Under federal legislation passed last February, gun owners can carry their weapons in national parks—as long as they do so in accordance with the state laws in which the park resides. For example, if you have the right to carry a weapon in Washington State, you have the right to carry your gun inside Mount Rainier National Park. Which is just as well. “A Mount Rainier National Park ranger was fatally shot following a New Year’s Day traffic stop,” the AP reports. “The 368-square-mile park in Washington state was closed as dozens of officers searched for the armed gunman over snowy and rugged terrain.” As for visitors already in the park . . .

[Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed ] Troyer said there were about 100 people hunkered down in lodges and cabins on the mountain. They were told to stay put because they could be in the line of fire. Armored vehicles were being brought in to ferry them safely out of the park.

Imagine you’re one of those “hunkered down” visitors waiting for armored evac. Unarmed. Oh, and through the miracle of modern cell phone technology, you know this about gunman Benjamin Colton Barnes [via CBS] . . .

A parks spokesman said Barnes was an Iraq war veteran, and the mother of his child had alleged he suffered from post-traumatic stress following his deployments.

Barnes was involved in a custody dispute in Tacoma in July 2011, during which the toddler’s mother sought a temporary restraining order against him, according to court documents. In an affidavit, the woman wrote that Barnes was suicidal and possibly suffered from PTSD after deploying to Iraq in 2007-2008. She said he gets easily irritated, angry and depressed and keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home.

Barnes was also a suspect in the early Sunday morning shooting of four people at a house party south of Seattle, police said.

Sgt. Cindi West, King County Sheriff’s spokesperson, said late Sunday that Barnes was connected to an early-morning shooting at a New Year’s house party in Skyway, Wash., south of Seattle that left four people injured, two critically. That incident happened about 3 a.m., and stemmed from an argument over a gun.

Setting aside the usual fatally flawed gun grabbers’ logic (e.g. if Barnes didn’t have a gun no one would need one to protect themselves from the killer), at least you, a member of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia, wouldn’t be defenseless. Unless . . .

You found yourself sharing a national park with a trained killer in California, New Jersey, Washington D.C. (Ford’s Theater?), or Illinois, where open carry is prohibited and the chances of an average Joe holding a concealed carry permit are only slightly higher than the odds of getting a date with Miranda Kerr.

Just another reason why we need a national reciprocity concealed carry bill like H.R.822. Or, indeed, H.R.822 itself.

[Update: 125 visitors were evacuated using unarmored vehicles last night. Barnes remains at large. Update 2 [via CBS]: “Police said a body believed to be that of a gunman suspected in the shooting death of a park ranger has been found, but the identity has not yet been confirmed.”]

9 Responses to Imagine If The Mount Rainier National Park Ranger Shooting Happened in California

  1. I remember a scene near the end of the film Targets in which some drive-in moviegoers (in California!), recognizing that there’s an armed threat on the loose nearby, pull an assortment of firearms from their trunks.
    Granted it’s a movie, but in the late 60s, when it was filmed, I could see that happening.

    • Well, that’s because California didn’t really jump on the gun control wagon until the black panthers did their little occupy the legislature stunt.

      This proves, yet again, that gun control is racist.

  2. Or worse… what were to happen if the young National Guardsman was on any US Military base where regardless of the state laws NOBODY except the rentacops and the MPs can carry. Oh, yeah I forgot, that scenario already happened here at Fort Hood.I cannot count how many of my family or friends who expressed to me their incredulous thoughts that MAJ Hassan had the audacity to do that on a MILITARY base where there are so many guns. I bit my lower lip and calmly told each of them that federal law prohibits carry by our nations finest.

    My angst on that day is still very palatable. I was very recently retired from the Army and was sitting in Austin drinking a microbrew when the news popped up on the TV situated near the bar. My thoughts quickly turned to my bride who devotes each day serving our Soldiers as a government employee on Fort Hood. I immediately called her cell and could not get through. The phone lines on post had been shut down and the cells were overloaded. It was over 4 hours until I knew for certain that she was OK.

    • OT, but in an area-wide emergency use TXT messages instead of voice calls: They use up much less bandwidth and are much more reliably delivered.

  3. I don’t really like your inflammatory phrase “You found yourself sharing a national park with a trained killer.” Not all men in the Army are killers, and not all are trained. Most aren’t really trained to kill. Besides, the phrase has a lot of the anti-Vietnam “baby killer” about it.

  4. Yes, at the very least, in Washington you could open carry in the park. Unfortunately, that means you have to be on foot, because to carry in a vehicle, you have to have a concealed carry permit. Although Washington is shall issue, so it’s not hard.

    Aside from those issues, we really need to be devoting more resources to helping veterans with PTSD.

    • +1

      In my experience, the Seattle VA hospital has excellent mental health care.
      But suicide and PTSD go hand in hand.

  5. No more open carry of handguns in CA as of Jan 1, 2012, per passage of AB144.
    In some counties, including San Diego, its impossible, as a practical matter, for a civilian to get a CCW permit. See Calguns Wiki for more.

    This means one is at risk in the incorporated areas from two legged predators, and the four legged ones- google mountain lion sightings in urban preserves – multiple sightings in neighborhood of schools and well-used rec trails, in three separate areas in last couple months.

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