I had just finished reading about the new credit card law which takes affect today, when I received a call from a Mountain Lion Foundation member. She was contacting all the organizations whom she supports to remind them of the amendment Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) attached to that particular bill-an amendment which now overturns a Reagan-Era ruling banning visitors to National Parks, and wildlife refuges from carrying loaded weapons.
President Reagan-who, as Governor, placed a moratorium on hunting mountain lions in California-enacted the loaded weapons ban in 1983 to help stop the poaching of wildlife in areas where they should be safe. By making it illegal to carry loaded weapons in National Parks and wildlife refuges, Rangers had a some-what effective tool to help identify and prosecute poachers; where before they had to rely on catching them in the act.
Despite FBI data to the contrary, proponents of the new law, which started out as a last minute policy change at the end of the Bush Administration, used the same fear tactics one usually hears for pro-mountain lion hunting interests. They claimed that people have the right to protect themselves, and that without the ability to carry a concealed loaded weapon it was unsafe to visit our National Parks.
Instead of making our parks safer, all the gun-rights proponents have accomplished is to make the Rangers jobs more dangerous, and to have made it that much harder to protect mountain lions or the other wildlife that inhabit these special places. I am sorry that political expediency to pass credit card reform had to come at such a high price.