Monday, January 2, 2012

Gunman at Mt. Rainier

Reading the news stories about the gunman who killed the NPS ranger who blocked the road to Paradise and was shot before she could exit the vehicle, the gunman then engaged law enforcement officers for an hour before escaping into the forest and the darkens. This whole incident points to why guns should not be allowed in National Parks. Let me explain.

The gunman had passed by the checkpoint for chains for all vehicles. With the snow and ice the NPS decided to verify all vehicles had them if the weather and road conditions got worse. This usually happens somewhere between the gate east of Longmire where traffic is controlled daily to the parking lot on the west side of Glacier Bridge over the Nisqually River.

The gunman blew by the checkpoint and continued onto Paradise. He never got there as the NPS ranger blocked the highway at Barn Flats, see map above. That is where the action happened. As you can see this was just about half a mile from Paradise and the Jackson Visitors Center where the NPS estimated 125 people were in the center or on the snowplay area just north of the center.

This is where NPS ranger Margaret Anderson blocked the highway with her vehicle and was sadly killed by the gunman before she could exit her vehicle to ask why the gunman passed the checkpoint. This is where rangers following the gunman engaged him in a gun battle for about an hour before he fled into the forest.

[Update.--It is almost certain he intended to go to Paradise where there were people. If he wanted to get into the back country to escape, he had 12 miles from longmire to Paradise with many trailheads and far less snow to escape for days and possibly longer if he had gotten to the northwest corner of the NP and the adjacent USFS land where there was little if any snow.]

The fact the gunman fled without snowshoes and without many of his weapons along with little clothing and food was the reason nothing happened. Had the gunman got to Paradise and the center area, we'd be reading a whole different story about a massacre of unreal proportions with the weapons he had in his car. Had he had chains and quietly passed inspection, that would be the news.

[Update.--The NPS has noted that none of the rangers at the Jackson Visitors Center had weapons. It is something they just don't anticipate with winter visitors, and without weapons to defend the visitors, everyone were just easy targets.]

Is that what the NRA and gun right advocates argue is the freedom to openly carry guns in National Parks? Enough firepower to kill or injure tens of people, both NPS staff and visitors? Is that what gun rights is about, the freedom for a law-abiding gun owner with an arsenal to wipe out so many lives without us saying no they can't do that in an National Park?

I'm not going to apologize for my view on guns in NP's anymore. Ever. This guy intended and could have wrecked havoc on innocent lives for what? Just because he could express his hate, rage and anger with guns? Is that what America is about? Is that was we call American values?

I know it's not. It about the safety and security of this country and all the people, which includes the right to reasonable restratints on guns in the name of public safety. In the name of common sense. In the name of decency. In the name of humanity. What Christian would argue for the right for this guy to do what he had planned? Just because he could? In the name of what?

I won't apologize again for my view. I will fight for the change in the law. I expect the President and the Democrats to change the law. Not when but now. Not how but completely. We elected you and it's time you stood up for all of us, not the NRA, gun lobby and gun advocates. Us. All of us.

I expect and will voice my view for it. We escaped the worse because one NPS ranger did her duty, did the right thing and gave her life. What more reason do you need? This is my National Park. This is our National Park. This is America's National Park. Protect it for all of us.


  1. Thanks for the post.
    It was really helpful to solve my confusion.

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  2. I updated this post today (1/13/12) with additional information in public statements by the NPS (noted in entry).