Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Guns in parks: Why?

with 12 comments

When I go to the park, I take a water bottle, maybe a wagon for the younger kids, some snacks, perhaps light jackets in case there’s a chill in the air. On another planet, there are people who are beside themselves that they can’t bring their guns.

I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t get it. I don’t consider myself crazy anti-gun. I don’t own a gun, probably never will, but that’s not out of any anti-Second Amendment principle. It’s because I have no more interest in owning a gun than I do an expanded special edition of Reese Witherspoon in “Sweet Home Alabama.” I just don’t find it useful to my interests, unless I’m forced to watch “Sweet Home Alabama,” at which time I might want a gun to go all Elvis on the TV.

And I’m certainly not sure why people feel so scared of their shadows that when they go for a nice stroll, or they go to watch their kid’s ballgame, they need to pack heat or their hearts palpitate nervously like me when I show up to a ballgame without a Starbucks grande americano with two Sweet-n-Lows and skim milk.

Indianapolis is the latest place where someone is proposing that people with permits be allowed to pack heat in public parks. That someone is a Libertarian who, philosophically, figures our Second Amendment rights extend to having a Glock in your pocket while you push your child on the swings.

3200979329_634514a42dKid, that swing is taken, if you catch my drift.

In some way, I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. What I don’t get is the reaction of Republican council member Ryan Vaughn, quoted in the Indianapolis Star:

“For the sake of consistency, I think there’s merit in it,” Vaughn said. “You could have citizens who don’t know what kind of park they’re in.”

Don’t know what kind of park they’re in? What is THAT supposed to mean? I don’t know if Vaughn has a racist bone in his body, but it sounds to me like my fellow white man wants his constituents protected in case they somehow stumble across Scary Black Park. (If Vaughn introduces an ordinance to change the names of parks to reflect their racial makeup and crime status, then we’ll know.) The only other way I could see citizens not knowing what kind of park they’re in is if they travel there wrapped inside a sack and then get dumped off the back of a truck.

Fortunately, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican and ex-Marine who presumably knows how to handle a gun, unlike most of the numbnuts who would pack heat at the park, said he would veto allowing guns in the parks, given that in three years in office, by his reckoning, exactly zero people have brought up this issue with him.

Still, that’s not likely to stop pro-gun types, not with victories such as the upcoming lifting of the gun ban in national parks, set to take effect Feb. 22. (It won’t be all Wild West — the park will enforce whatever local gun laws are in place.) Plus, you still have the push-pull in Tennessee, where it became legal to carry in public parks, unless local governments passed a law saying otherwise — and some have.

It doesn’t help the case when you have oddballs like the guy in Seattle who protested his city’s new ban on guns in the parks by taking a pistol to a dog show. You know, just in case a shih-tzu looked at him cross-eyed. (Technically, the guy is right — a Washington state law passed in 1983 prevents any locality from passing such a gun ban, and there are lawsuits against the city declaring just that. But still.) Or tragic cases like the mom in Pennsylvania who created a cause celebre by openly carrying a weapon at her kid’s soccer game — and then ended up dead by her husband’s hand in a murder-suicide.

The only person I know and would trust taking a gun to a park for a Sunday walk or a kid’s ballgame is a friend of mine who happens to be an ex-Marine and a Secret Service agent. At least I know he’s trained to be alert for danger and would know how to discharge his weapon without wiping out the opposing team’s parents. Otherwise, it just seems like overkill, no pun intended, for people to bring guns along. If you’re feeling tense and nervous at the ballpark, I would recommend a strong cup of coffee instead.

12 Responses

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  1. I’m basically of the same opinion as you on guns, but you hit on the actual meaning of Vaughn’s quote later on in the post. You’re allowed to carry guns in national parks starting this month. Indiana passed a law allowing you to carry guns in state parks a few years ago. So someone could naively think that guns are cool in Indianapolis city parks and not know the distinctions or the laws. I couldn’t tell you offhand with perfect accuracy which of the parks here around Baltimore are national, state, county, or city parks.

    In fact, the sentence before the one you quoted was: “Council President Ryan Vaughn, a Republican, said he agrees there’s a need to make the gun laws in parks more level.”

    Zach Hensel

    February 3, 2010 at 1:41 am

  2. Zach: You might be right in Vaughn’s interpretation, but the distinguished gentleman is being disingenuous no matter what his meaning.

    The only parks in Indianapolis/Marion County that aren’t local are White River State Park and Fort Harrison State Park. There is absolutely zero way anyone is going to be confused about what kind of park they’re in. I would presume, anyway, that any law-abiding permit holder is going to take the time to check the laws before deciding whether to holster up.

    To paraphrase what opponents said when Indiana allowed guns in state parks, if parks are that dangerous that we need to be armed before entering them, then maybe authorities should beef up their patrols.

    Bob Cook

    February 3, 2010 at 10:18 am

  3. Perhaps it is time for you to actually do some research on the subject, instead of relying on typical knee-jerk reaction comments. A little introspection into why you feel you have to belittle that which you obviously do not understand may be in order.

    It is a sad fact that many people have lost their lives in parks because they had no way to defend themselves from someone bent on doing bad, someone that did not care if they broke the law against carrying guns in parks.

    If you understood the issues more clearly you would not fall back on silly comments about gun owners being scared of their own shadows.

    Your use of the race card was unwarranted, as there was no evidence of any racial animosity in the quoted statement. I can only assume you used it because it gave your poor argument the air of moral superiority.


    February 3, 2010 at 10:47 am

  4. Dfenton, I’m not so naive that I don’t believe harm can come to you in a park. To me, crime prevention and defense is not about packing a piece that you may or may not be able to use if attacked, or that may or may not be turned back against you. My question is, if you think the park is so dangerous, why are you there? Why isn’t there more police protection? And what kind of mindset do you have that you need a gun for protection every waking moment you’re out of the house? Where do you live, Fallujah?

    I understand in Indianapolis there have been times people have tried to rob cyclists on the Monon Trail (a rails-to-trail conversion). But, as a percentage of people using the trail, those incidents are miniscule, and police have advised people the safest thing to do is NOT whip out a gun. Police also have installed additional cameras in places where attacks were more frequent, and they’ve got a good record of quickly arresting the perpetrators. THAT’s what helps make things safer.

    Bob Cook

    February 3, 2010 at 11:43 am

  5. Mr. Cook,

    First let me say that I am a concealed carry permit holder, but I very rarely carry.

    Obviously there are some places that are more dangerous than others, and if I feel a place is so dangerous that I fear for my life I will probably avoid it if possible. The problem is that any place, that on any given day is usually relatively safe, can instantly become a very dangerous place if the wrong people show up.

    Extra police presence is nice but, let’s face it, most governments don’t have the budgets to have police everywhere, all of the time.

    It has been laid down in several court cases in this county that you, as an individual, have no expectation of police protection. The use of the word “protect” by police is a general protection of the public as a whole by solving crimes and arresting violators. Sometimes the police are there and they do help, but you have no legal expection of that help.

    I don’t have the mindset you speak of, but I know many people do. I would guess they would say that most of the time they don’t need a weapon, but the day they do need it it could save lives.

    Concealed carry permit holders are law abiding citizens. If not, they wouldn’t even apply for a permit, they would just carry anyway like criminals do. The “wild west” scenario that is predicted by so many has not happened in any state that has allowed concealed carry.

    Would I carry in a local public park? Maybe not, but I wouldn’t worry so much about a permitted citizen carrying a weapon concealed either.


    February 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

  6. Sorry, I meant to say court cases in this country, not county.


    February 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

  7. Yeah, I’m not saying that it’s a particularly good argument. Just that it’s not entirely absurd and definitely not coded racism. I don’t think some danger unique to parks really enters into the equation; he just wants to be able to have guns everywhere and sees an opportunity to expand.

    Zach Hensel

    February 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm

  8. They don’t erect swingsets at national parks. The word “park” is not synonymous with McDonald’s playlands.

    I get it. You have kids. But have you ever heard of, say, Yellowstone National Park? Or bears?
    The National Park Service encompasses over 80 million acres, the vast majority of that is wilderness.


    February 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

  9. I know that people who take the time to get concealed-carry permits (like my late father had) are law-abiding citizens, and that 99.9% of the time no one is playing cowboy. It just seems to me that this push to get guns into parks is a solution in search of a problem.

    Then again, I’m sure the NRA would say keeping guns out of parks is a solution in search of a problem.

    For my next post, I will discuss something, noncontroversial, like abortion.

    Bob Cook

    February 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm

  10. The argument I’ve heard proferred most about why you need a gun in a national or state park is just in case you stumble upon a marijuana growing operation or a meth lab. Presumably, not an issue in city parks and ballfields.

    Bob Cook

    February 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

  11. You wrote “…tragic cases like the mom in Pennsylvania who created a cause celebre by openly carrying a weapon at her kid’s soccer game — and then ended up dead by her husband’s hand in a murder-suicide.”

    Umm, could it have been that she was openly carrying the gun because to do otherwise would have violated concealed carry laws? Some people may have a need for self defense. I’m not thrilled about such things, but making large public areas where carrying a weapon is illegal is not too bright either.

    Yes, our family own a rifle and a shotgun (both for hunting). No, we don’t carry these guns everywhere we go. But at the same time, if someone felt the need to do so, I don’t see any more of a problem with that than I would seeing a police officer with one.

    jake brodsky

    February 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm

  12. Follow the link and you’ll see more details as to why this woman is not who you want out front as your spokesperson for gun rights at your kid’s ballgame. Her permit was revoked by the county sheriff (an NRA member) for bringing her gun to her 5-year-old’s soccer game (a judge later restored it). The irony is that when she needed her gun, she didn’t have it/and or couldn’t get to it fast enough — she was shot from behind by her husband, who then shot and killed himself.

    Bob Cook

    February 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm

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