The National Park Service honored Ranger Scott Emmerich with the 2010 Harry Yount Award, the agency’s highest honor for service to the Nation. Ranger Emmerich serves in Alaska’s Glacier National Park.

Apparently in response to various questions posed by the by the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe, Scott Emmerich is taking Americans’ new gun rights in National Parks in stride. Emmerich explained that

“I guess the biggest thing I’m cautious of is to not violate a person’s Second Amendment rights. It’s legal for them to carry a gun. The adjustment for park rangers was that we used to react immediately. Now . . . you’re just cautious. . . .

There are some people who used to say they would never hike in Glacier National Park, but now they do because they’re packing. They were worried about bears before, but now they can carry guns. . . . I would say 90 percent of visitors don’t carry guns into a park and I’d say about 10 percent do, and if they do, good for you.

The gun issue is controversial, and it’s one that people thought might be blown out of proportion. But it shouldn’t be. It’s not that big a deal. We’ll get used to it, we’ll adapt and it shouldn’t change our lives at all. We’ll just be careful and respect peoples’ rights to carry a handgun or shotgun or rifle.”

Perhaps prompted into action by the Coburn Amendment (legalizing gun carry in National Parks if legal under state law), State officials across the United States, apparently feeling the same way about gun carry rights as Ranger Emerich, have been identifying and repealing state laws restricting gun carry in state and federal
parks and forests. This process sometimes takes place via notice and comment rulemaking by state agencies, or legislative action by state legislatures.

The one outlier appears to be Maine, where the legislature voted to ban open carry in Acadia National Park. But according to the National Parks Traveler, the Maine effort was sharply scaled back from its initial goal to ban on all gun carry “in Acadia, along the Appalachian Trail, and at St. Croix Island International Historic Site,” to merely banning open carry in Acadia National Park.

Maine Open Carry Association Founder, Shane Belanger, sees the glass as 5/6’s full. “We can still carry in all three of these locations which anti-gun rights forces tried to make into victim disarmament zones,” he explained.

Belanger, a math minded, pre-med student at the University of Southern Maine, thinks of gun rights policy matters in two dimensions as a matrix of locations to carry
multiplied by the two ways to carry a handgun, open or concealed. Belanger reasons that the bill originally would have banned both concealed and open carry in 3 locations, hence 6 right to carry options would have been criminalized. But in the end, only 1 of the 6 options was taken away from Maine citizens and visitors – and that was open carry in Acadia National park, effective July 12, 2010.

Source: Mike Stollenwerk for The Examiner.

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