JOSHUA TREE – Packing heat in National Parks: Congress passed a bill allowing concealed weapons inside Joshua Tree and all other National Parks.
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma attached the bill to the massive credit card overhaul going through Washington.
Gun store owner Steve Donnell fires a few rounds outside Donnell’s Shooting Supplies in Twentynine Palms.
He has a California concealed weapons permit. If Congress has its way, gunowners may soon be allowed to bring concealed weapons into national parks.
Donnel explained, “The bad guys are everywhere. You never know when something’s going to happen. It puts us at a disadvantage because now we have to disarm, unload out guns, lock them in a compartment inside of our car, inside of our trucks and then we can go through the park.”
Mike Cipra with the National Parks Conservation Association disagrees, “This issue is definitely one of the most dangerous for National Parks. We don’t think it’s appropriate for visitors to National Parks, say, somebody in a campground next to a family to be loaded. We thin that provides some potential for serious harms to our park visitors.”
Getting a California concealed weapon permit is no easy matter, “For the California concealed weapons permit, it took over a year to get mine because of the extensive background checks that they do,” said Donnell.
Many Joshua Tree tourists don’t want concealed weapons inside National Parks.
“I don’t think any national parks need any guns in there at all, because they’re safe now and guns are dangerous,” said Matt Pailes.
Tourist Kay Bailey added, “As a person from Canada, I say no. I don’t need a gun to be safe.”
Donnell countered, “The reason why we got our permits is so we can protect ourselves and protect others.”
Both Representatives Mary Bono Mack and Jerry Lewis voted yes on the bill Wednesday afternoon.