Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do we really need more gun control?

My previous post ("Shame of those who would politicize the murder of a law enforcement officer") was about the murder of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson at Mount Rainier National Park. Her killer was an Iraq war veteran named Benjamin Colton Barnes, age 24. He fled the scene of Ranger Anderson's murder and entered the woods of the massive park. Thanks to Mother Nature, he did not survive. His body was discovered Monday lying face down and partially submerged in an icy, snowy mountain creek. Several weapons were found nearby. An autopsy performed Tuesday showed that Barnes had hypothermia and drowned.

I'm not that familiar with the current law reference firearms and America's National Parks, but it is apparently legal for park visitors to bring loaded weapons with them when they enter one of our nation's National Parks (unless there are state laws that make it illegal). After Ranger Anderson's murder I read several other articles that mentioned that her murder has now renewed the debate regarding this new 2010 federal law.

It seems that some people are of the opinion that if firearms were outlawed in our National Parks this would have stopped the subject Barnes from bringing weapons into the Mount Rainier National Park and therefore Park Ranger Anderson would never have been murdered. What absurd logic! Does anyone really believe that if Barnes saw a sign at the park's main entrance that said "No firearms permitted," that he would have turned around and not entered the park? Really, does this even make any sense to you?

The subject Barnes had apparently been involved in another shooting earlier, and four people were injured, two critically. He apparently went to Mount Rainier National Park to hide from the investigating authorities, and now there are those misguided individuals among us who would have us believe that Barnes would obey the law now and not bring his guns into the park. What hogwash!

We should remember that when Barnes was still in the military he was charged with driving under the influence AND improper transport of a privately owned weapon. So, if he didn't obey the rules while in the army, with respect to his weapons, why should we believe it would have been any different after he had been involved in that earlier shooting?

Bill Wade is the outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. Because of Ranger Anderson's murder he reportedly said that, "The many congressmen and senators that voted for the legislation that allowed loaded weapons to be brought into the parks ought to be feeling pretty bad now." Mr. Wade apparently called Ranger Anderson's murder a tragedy that could have been prevented. Again, with all due respect to Mr. Wade, what bull! Posting a "No firearms permitted" sign would NOT have prevented this tragedy from happening.

One thing that always seems to happen after a tragedy like the Ranger Anderson murder is that some individuals and/or politicians can't resist the urge to use these tragedies for their own political gain. I remember back to the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January of 2011. Jared Lee Loughner was the nut who shot Giffords, and who wounded a dozen others, and killed six. On his resume it says that he was rejected by the U.S. Army, although they won't say why. A judge eventually declared that Loughner was NOT competent to stand trial.

Shortly after the Arizona tragedy involving Rep. Giffords, New York Rep. Peter King, an outspoken Republican who favors more gun control, said he wants a new Federal law that would make it a crime to knowingly carry firearms within 1,000 feet of high-ranking officials (which, of course, would include the members of Congress).

Yes, I suppose such a law might keep a rational and a sane person from carrying a gun to a political rally. But, what about a nut like Loughner, who has been declared not competent? Do you think such a law would stop him? I don't think so.

Gary P. Jones, Captain [retired]

Fort Lauderdale Police Department (1967-1993)

author of book: Badge 149 - "Shots Fired!"

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