Jerry Patterson: National parks gun ban unconstitutional
Web Posted: 05/27/2008 11:34 PM CDT
Special to the San Antonio Express-News
Recent displays of my Second Amendment rights have earned some harsh words
from editorial writers at some of Texas' big city newspapers, including the San Antonio Express-News.
I've been criticized for acknowledging I carried a concealed handgun, as is my right, on recent visits to Big Bend National Park
. :shock: A National Park Service rule prohibits carrying a loaded, concealed handgun.
â€œEvidently, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson was absent from school the day the Constitution was covered,â€ wrote the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board.
While that's an awfully cute jab, the reality is I've learned the Constitution over the course of a lifetime â€" not just one day. I've taken oaths to uphold and protect our Constitution â€" as a U.S. Marine and as a state elected official.
So look at the facts.
The ban on loaded firearms in National Park is not a law. It is a rule enacted by unelected bureaucrats of the National Park Service. There was no legislative process â€" these bureaucrats arbitrarily terminated this Constitutional right
Fortunately, the clearly unconstitutional National Park Service rules on possessing firearms in federal parks are changing. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne recently proposed new rules that would respect state firearm laws and the Second Amendment.
Nonetheless, some editorial boards oppose allowing citizens the right to self-defense. Law-abiding Texans, they say, can't be trusted with guns and don't need them in the park, anyway, because no one else can have a gun.
On a recent hike in Big Bend, I found two expended 9mm shell casings
, along with a discarded pack of Mexican cigarettes. The Texas Department of Public Safety ballistics lab confirmed two different weapons fired these casings. How could this be? There are no guns in Big Bend, because that's the rule, right?
Tell that to the rafters who were ambushed and killed
several years ago in an area adjacent to the Big Bend known as Colorado Canyon. Tell that to the woman whose body, suffering from blunt force trauma to the head, was found floating
in five feet of water at Amistad National Recreation Area.
In 2006, the most recent year available for statistics, the National Park Service says there were 116,588 reported offenses in national parks. That includes 11 killings, 35 rapes or attempted rapes, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings and 261 aggravated assaults.
With the increasingly violent criminal activity along the Texas-Mexico border, carrying a firearm in remote areas along the border, including Big Bend National Park, is a choice every citizen should have.
Express-News editorial writers assert the current proposal to rescind the ban on lawfully carried firearms in national parks is a â€œsolution in search of a problem.â€ But the problem is very real.
Americans are guaranteed our right to keep and bear arms. That right is unassailable and inviolate. To rescind that right when one crosses an arbitrary boundary into a national park is an unconstitutional act no different than rescinding our Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure
. [M.P. - We should steal that line for all places off limits!]
As an elected official, I take an oath that I will â€œto the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.â€
I do not regard such affirmations as anachronistic formalities. I guess you can call me an old-fashioned believer in the wisdom of those who penned the Bill of Rights and not much of a believer in the wisdom of editorial boards.