HR1897, Carry in National Parks: A bill whose time is past due

By Tim Inwood

United States Representative Ron Paul has introduced a bill that I hope
gets some traction. HR1897 would restore our ability
to carry firearms in the National Parks for our
defense.

How important is this? Every year we hear
some terrible story of someone getting mauled or
killed by wild animals on Federally owned land - land
that we are encouraged to visit and pay for, but where
we are forbidden the ability to defend ourselves. This, to me, is insane.

Animal attacks are not rare. We have been hearing
tragic examples for ages. I have been paying fairly
close attention to this issue since 1994 when Rush
Limbaugh brought up the sad story of Barbara Schoener.

Click 'Read More' for the entire commentary.

On April 23, 1994, this 40 year-old woman was out
jogging. She was attacked and killed by an 82-pound
mountain lion in El Dorado County, California. She
left behind two children and a husband. The state
hunted down and shot the killer cat. As it turned out,
the cat had cubs. Rush made the story a national one
when he heard that animal rights activists had
started a fund for the mountain lion's cubs, and that
they had raised more money than had been raised for
the dead woman’s children. Upset by this, Rush did a
fundraiser for the motherless Schoener children to
make sure they would be able to go to college.

More recently, in January of this year, we have the
story of Jim Hamm, who was attacked by a mountain lion
while hiking in California. Luckily, his wife Nell was
able to club the animal to the point it ran away. The
seventy year old man was mauled badly, but he will
survive.

Here in the Eastern U.S. we have an example from 2006 - another animal attack, this time in Tennessee. A black
bear killed one little girl, and seriously injured her
mother and little brother. These poor people visiting
from Ohio were not prepared for what happened.
Susan Cenkus, her son Luke and daughter Elora were in
a pool of water below a waterfall in the Cherokee
National Forest. A huge black bear attacked them,
grabbing the small boy by the head. The mother fought
it off, and was badly mauled by the animal for her
efforts. The little girl ran into the woods. Other
campers joined in the fight beating the bear with
sticks and rocks. Finally, the bear retreated, only
after mauling Susan Cenkus and leaving her two year-old boy with severe head and brain injuries. Hours
later the six year old little girl was found dead in
the woods with the bear standing over her.

Sadly, the official reaction from park rangers and the
Federal government is along the lines of “Black bears
usually won’t attack people and usually retreat from
humans.”
Right… Sadly there are too many examples of
other humans being attacked nationwide for this
rubbish answer to fly.

Back in May 2000, Glenda Ann Bradley was attacked by
two female black bears. This poor woman was found by
her husband who had been fishing nearby. Glenda was
dead and partially eaten, the offending animals still
feeding as her husband approached them. This happened
in the “safe” Great Smoky Mountain National Park,
where we are told we don’t need to carry firearms for
defense.

In August 2002, a black bear walked into a camp in
Fallburg, New York. It went right up on the cabin’s
porch, grabbing a 5-month-old child out of a carriage,
carrying it off into the woods and killing the child. An Arizona teenager was attacked at camp by a bear
that had been tagged and relocated by the government. An 81 year old woman was attacked by a black bear in
her own home in the Adirondack mountains six years
ago.

There is not enough space here to relate all the
stories making the case for HR1897. I will, however,
tell a story which happened to a member of my family.
My father’s youngest brother has found an idyllic
vacation spot in the Great Smoky Mountain National
Park. The Highland Condominiums have a commanding view
of Gatlinburg below, and a lovely view of the
mountains. My own family has gone down on his
recommendation and we thoroughly love the place.
However, on a trip two years ago, my uncle had a close
call with a bear just yards from the condo he was
renting. One evening he ran down to throw rubbish in
the dumpster. The dumpster is behind the parking lot
of this particular condo unit. It is surrounded by a
high wooden fence, and my uncle tossed the bag over the
fence into the dumpster. Out jumped a very upset black
bear, which roared at him. My uncle, who was in his
late 50s at this time, ran like a teenager back to the
elevator and escaped the upset and hungry bruin. I
thank God my uncle did not turn out like the other
poor folks in the examples I cited above.

Animals are not the only danger either. Two-legged
predators also roam our National parks. Three women
were brutally murdered
in 1999 while visiting Yosemite
National Park.

Sadly, this is also not an isolated incident. Clearly
any of the above incidents would have turned out
differently had the victims been armed. It is morally
repugnant that our government has taken the attitude
that the well-being of predatory animals is more
important than the lives of the taxpayers who make it
possible for such parks to exist. HR1897 is a bill
that should have been passed into law years ago. I
urge you to contact your Representatives and
Senators in Washington D.C. and insist they support this
measure. Then call President Bush at (202) 456-1111, and
ask him to get on board. Kudos to Rep. Ron Paul for
introducing this measure.

Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past
President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen
Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA, Life
Member of OGCA, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms
Association.

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