Ham, mus­tard, chips, AR-15

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS -

The next time you are pack­ing up that pic­nic lunch for a foray into a Vir­ginia state park, you might want to in­clude an AR-15 as­sault ri­fle or a Glock 19 au­to­matic pis­tol with your mus­tard and ham sand­wiches.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell says it’s okay to openly carry firearms in the state’s parks.

His de­ci­sion, widely hailed by the gun lobby, is par­tic­u­larly strik­ing com­ing so soon af­ter the Tuc­son shoot­ings that left six dead and 13 wounded, in­clud­ing Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords. It’s also stun­ning con­sid­er­ing that the state is com­ing up against the fourth an­niver­sary of the mass mur­ders at Vir­ginia Tech by a dis­turbed gun­man who left 33 dead, in­clud­ing him­self.

McDonnell made his de­ci­sion in a Jan. 14 let­ter to Con­ser­va­tion and Recre­ation Depart­ment Di­rec­tor David A. John­son. One won­ders in what uni­verse McDonnell and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Cuc­cinelli, who orig­i­nally re­quested an opin­ion on car­ry­ing guns openly in state parks when he was a state leg­is­la­tor, live. In­creas­ingly nasty po­lit­i­cal blogs and ad­ver­tise­ments, such as those of Sarah Palin, put cross-hair sights on those they want voted out of of­fice.

Now when you try to es­cape for some quiet time in the state’s parks, you may have to pitch a tent next to some­one openly pack­ing heat. Let’s hope you don’t have to ask your neigh­bors to pipe down at bed­time. And al­though al­co­holic bev­er­ages are sup­posed to be off lim­its in parks, rangers of­ten look the other way at camp­sites. Who’s go­ing to want to con­front some­one who is tipsy and has a .45-cal­iber au­to­matic in his Vel­cro hol­ster?

McDonnell wants to ex­tend the open-carry guns pol­icy to state forests as well. That makes sense— dur­ing hunt­ing sea­son. Oth­er­wise, a com­pletely in­sane gun pol­icy is go­ing to make Vir­gini­ans, once again, look like a bunch of nuts.

Peter Galuszka, Ba­con’s Re­bel­lion

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