http://www.timesdispatch.com/servle...Article&cid=1149191852954&path=!news!politics Allen bill would allow guns in national parks BY PETER HARDIN TIMES-DISPATCH WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT Nov 24, 2006 Allen honored a campaign pledge by introducing the gun bill. Allen honored a campaign pledge by introducing the gun bill. AP WASHINGTON -- Departing U.S. Sen. George Allen, honoring a campaign pledge, has quietly introduced a bill that would let visitors carry a concealed firearm into a national park. The Virginia Republican wrote to the Virginia Gun Owners Coalition a Nov. 4 letter outlining his gun views and mentioning his efforts to urge the secretary of the Interior to repeal the gun ban in national parks. "Since no action has been taken, I will introduce legislation in the Senate in the week of November 13 to repeal the gun ban," Allen wrote three days before Election Day. With Democrats about to take over Congress in January, it is not likely that such a controversial measure would win passage in the current lame-duck session. In a twist, an Oct. 30 campaign letter by Jim Webb -- the Democrat who narrowly defeated Allen -- shows that he promised to introduce similar legislation. Click here. "And I intend to get it to the floor for a vote," added Webb, who also noted his possession for many years of a concealed-carry permit and his regular shooting activity. A spokesman for the senator-elect said Wednesday that Webb had not studied the Allen bill. Allen introduced his bill Nov. 16; his office declined to comment on it Wednesday. Allen's bill, if not passed, would not carry over to the next Congress. Carrying or possessing loaded firearms in park areas generally is prohibited, a National Park Service spokesman said, though some parks that authorize hunting do permit firearms use during open hunting season. While the National Park Service did not take a stand on Allen's bill, the spokesman said serious crimes against individuals in the parks are extremely low and that there is not data demonstrating a need for visitors to carry concealed firearms. Allowing people "with minimal or no training to carry firearms in national park areas will not lower the already negligible crime rate but will most likely increase the possibilities of basic altercations turning into something much more serious," said Park Service spokesman David Barna. A champion for Allen's bill, Mike McHugh of Front Royal, is president of the Virginia Gun Owners Coalition. "It's odd that you can carry in the General Assembly in Virginia, but if you're out in remote areas, like the Appalachian Trail, where two women had their throats slit . . . you can't defend yourself," said McHugh, referring to the slayings of two hikers in 1996. If Allen gets a recorded vote on the Senate floor, "he'll be viewed as keeping his promise," McHugh said. If the measure goes to the House on a last-minute, "must-pass" basis, "he'll be viewed as a hero," McHugh said. Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said of Allen's bill, "I would hope that this wouldn't see any further action. But you never can tell in a lame-duck" session. "I don't think there's . . . any reason why we need this," Helmke said. "The whole idea that more guns make us safer is completely backwards." Allen's bill says federal laws should make it clear that Second Amendment rights should not be infringed at a unit of the National Park System. It appears the bill would make state laws the standard, whether pertaining to concealed or open firearms, for carrying weapons in a national park. The Virginia Gun Owners Coalition's Web site urges supporters to contact Sen. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader from Tennessee, and Allen, who "is desperate to resurrect his political career." Allen had been viewed as a potential presidential candidate before his defeat this month. The National Rifle Association endorsed Allen, and an NRA spokesman did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment about the bill. Webb, in his answers to an NRA survey earlier, described himself as an "NRA member for many years." He wrote, "There are side benefits to my membership for me, as I am a hand-weapon enthusiast and shoot often at the NRA range in Fairfax." Allen has liberally used his press operation to promote bills he introduced, but that was not the case with the latest gun bill. The New York Times criticized the bill in an editorial Wednesday. ----------------------- Guess this goes to show that not all Democrats are out there to take away your rights.