The Department of the Interior is still accepting comments through June 30 regarding a rule change to allow loaded, operable guns in national parks in those states that allow guns in state parks. For Western North Carolina, that would include the Smoky Mountain National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, and ostensibly the grounds of the National Park Service’s Carl Sandburg Home.
In a related commentary in the Mountain Xpress in April, writer Danny Bernstein quoted Brian King, spokesperson for the Applachian Trail Conservancy in West Virginia, as saying that his group has taken no position on the bill, but does “strongly recommend that people not carry guns” on the famous through-hiker pathway. “Guns are heavy,” he notes practically, also adding that “What A.T. hikers need is mental preparation.” According to a recent Asheville Citizen-Times article, groups such as the National Rifle Association prefer to have the parks reflect Second Amendment rights.
You can post your own opinion on the subject as part of the public comment process at the federal Regulations.gov Web site (type in “guns national park” in the comments search field).
— Nelda Holder, associate editor