In the summer of 2007 two young people in California began a walk for peace to the nation’s capitol. A few others joined them in this long walk across our nation, stopping in small towns, camping in parks, and staying in homes. Their aim was not to lead large protest marches or rallies, but to simply engage ordinary Americans in conversations about the futility of war and their longing for peace and desire to encourage our representatives in Washington to take action for peace. When they got to Colorado they tried to camp overnight in our (and their) beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park but were denied admittance because they had signs on their shirts saying Walk for Peace, which the Park officials said “might cause a disruption.” This summer they still would not be allowed to carry a sign but now they would be able to carry concealed weapons into the Park.
For fifty years I have camped and hiked in state and national parks and forests around our nation, and been to many national monuments and wildlife refuges, both alone and with friends and family. I have seen some situations where a ranger or volunteer was needed to calm down disorderly people or to tell them the rules to protect others and our natural places; never have I been or heard of any situation that would be helped by a camper carrying a loaded gun. I know that I will never feel safe again in our beautiful parks with loaded guns nearby.