Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sharkey leaves the Shire, continued

Years ago, just out of high school, an industrious friend of mine had a job closing houses that had been foreclosed upon. He would go in, clean up the place, and board up the windows so that the abandoned house didn't become any more of an eyesore than necessary. And one day, he invited me along for a particularly big job.

It will come as no surprise that people who lose a house feel no particular obligation to its maintenance. Only the most conscientious would do more than the most cursory cleaning. But these folks ... oh my. I've seen garbage dumps that were neater than this house. Trash everywhere, overflowing garbage all over the house. Used diapers strewn about the yard (which had to be fetched out of knee-deep grass before mowing the lawn). And the crowning touch: the toilet had been left unflushed when the occupants finally departed.

I don't like dealing with that kind of mess. My friend had to find other help after that day.

But that house keeps popping into my mind every time I read about the latest step George Bush has taken to mark his passage. This time it's the national parks beneath his lifted leg:

New rule lifts ban on firearms in national parks


Fortunately, it's not a blanket license for guns. You have to have a concealed-carry permit, and it has to be from the state in which the national park is situated. In Yellowstone, that will mean some small number of the spring and fall visitors (who tend to be local), but almost none of those who visit during the height of summer (half of them from outside the US, the remainder mostly from out of state). And if anyone else does draw a gun, they'd better have an awfully convincing reason for it, 'cause the rangers are federal employees who don't much care about the local culture of firearms and don't much care for anyone who denies that they're in charge.

So there's no need to so hysterical as, say, this guy. Still ... there's not one good thing to say about this change. Even in the demented US, you have to be clinically paranoid if you're afraid to go to a national park without a gun in your pocket.* I lived in one for years - never saw a need. I even worked with a murderer-on-the-lam a few summers ago in Yellowstone, but no need for a gun ever arose. Wild animals? Puleeze. Pretty much everyone I knew at Yellowstone had no particular fear of camping in bear and wolf country, so I'm going to laugh - with the greatest derision - at anyone who tries to claim they need to protect themselves from animals.

Politically, though, it's a clever move. It will be hard to undo, because the gun nuts can bring more hysteria to "Thur tekkin' 'r gnnnzzzz!" than the rest of the public can possibly match. Unless a massacre actually occurs - and I don't really expect it - there'll never be enough political will to revoke this rule. It gives the Right a potential rally point, with little risk of a sizable backlash. Kudos.

1 comment:

Heather said...

You're right -- there's no politically un-messy way to revoke this one. Unless (god forbid) some nut in the parks uses a gun for a highly publicized shooting spree or murder of a law enforcement ranger -- but then the gun advocates will squall all the harder for the right of every law-abiding American to be armed. I feel bad for the rangers. They're spread so thin already, the budget's so bad, and I can't imagine that this won't make their jobs harder -- certainly I think it'll increase poaching, if nothing else.

And yeah, I'm pretty amused at all those Big Bad Men who are afraid to sleep outdoors without a gun to protect them from all the scary animals.