Amid the welter of depressing news about the Great Recession, the Taliban's successes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a new rash of bombings in Iraq, there is a single bright spot.
Congress has overwhelmingly passed, and the president has signed into law a bill permitting the carrying of loaded and concealed weapons in our national parks.
All I can say is it's about time. Several years ago, while my wife and I were driving through Yellowstone National Park, we were frequently delayed - and sometimes felt threatened - by large numbers of bison. Herds of the big, ugly beasts blocked the roads. And I often caught them staring as though they meant to charge our vehicle. Only by gunning the engine could I frighten the creatures away.
But now that I can carry a loaded weapon in Yellowstone, I will no longer feel threatened. I can simply gun the beasts down if I sense a threat - or even if they have the chutzpah to slow my passage. And since assault weapons are no longer banned, I can take down several at a time with a few trigger tugs. And maybe knock off a couple of obnoxious tourists while I'm at it.
I see the law permitting loaded guns in national parks as just one more step in the lengthy process of our finally reclaiming our Second Amendment rights. The big first step came in June 2008, when the Supreme Court ruled that there is an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. President Obama's decision not to push for another assault weapons ban was another step. And this new law is a third. We gun rights advocates are on a roll!
It's clear to me what the logical next step should be. We should permit - even encourage - the carrying of loaded weapons in all public buildings. They can be concealed, or not (assault rifles and shotguns are, after all, too big to conceal). Democrat elitists will, of course, bitterly complain about this. But pay no attention to their whining. Or that of police and other law enforcement officers who've already begun to join in that whining; the Fraternal Order of Police and a Park Rangers group have come out against loaded guns in national parks.
But let's look at the advantages of permitting citizens to carry loaded weapons in public buildings. Four years ago a defendant on trial for rape in an Atlanta courtroom grabbed a gun from a deputy sheriff and killed the judge and two other people, critically wounded a fourth before escaping. He was later caught.
Now imagine if the judge or one or more of the jurors - or anyone else in the courtroom other than the armed deputies - was carrying a weapon. Imagine if, for example, a woman juror happened to be sitting with an assault rifle in her lap. She might have prevented the murders or gunned down the killer then and there. Of course, the juror might have hit more innocent people, especially if she didn't have much practice with a semi-automatic rifle. But - as our military tells us all the time, when it kills innocent Afghans in its air strikes --- sorry, but collateral damage is sometimes unavoidable.
In 1998, a man with a .38 caliber pistol killed two policemen at the Capitol in Washington. People panicked because bullets were flying all around. But if Congress members, staffers and tourists were armed, perhaps the killings could have been prevented. And what if more bullets flying around created more victims? Well, sometimes that can't be helped. The Second Amendment sometimes requires human sacrifice.
I saw the movie Milk which reminded me that if either San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk or Mayor George Moscone was armed, he might have prevented Dan White from shooting both of them to death at City Hall in 1978. Of course, other people on the scene, like then-Supervisor Dianne Feinstein, might have been hit as well. But so what, today we'd simply have one less liberal Democrat Feminazi senator.
And, getting back to national parks, the magazine Politico has pointed out that the White House itself, or at least part of the building and all of the grounds, has been a national park since it was designated one in 1961. The National Park Service calls its 18 acres of gardens and grounds The President's Park, and has a website that says so.
Does that mean that White House tourists can bring loaded weapons inside? Well, the measure President Obama just reluctantly signed (as the price of credit card reforms he wanted) makes loaded weapons legal in national parks if "the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the state" in which the park is located. Washington, of course, is not a state. But the city has no law that bans guns in national parks within its jurisdiction.
So, can I pack heat in the Executive Mansion? A spokesman for the mayor says NO! the legislation "will not apply to the national parks" in Washington. More important, the Secret Service won't hear of it. "We control security at the White House," a spokesman told Politico. "No weapons are permitted."
Just a bunch of spoilsports.