MOUNT DESERT — Columnist M.D. Harmon aimed at a laudable goal: greater safety in Acadia. He has one foot on the solid ground of new federal law.

But his other foot is on a slippery slope of state statute that must be made firm through enacting a law prohibiting firearms (including those carried by concealed-weapons permit holders, the new plan) in Acadia National Park.

Mr. Harmon believes we would all be safer if, when entering Acadia, a citizen were able to carry his .357 Magnum on his hip with a full load of hollow points in his belt and his beautiful Browning Citori 12-gauge in the back seat with rounds at hand. Woe betide evildoers!

Were our armed citizen to arrive at the crowded Sand Beach parking lot just as an unhinged wretch with his own arsenal threatened vacationing families, we need fear not.

That is when our man – and, we can hope, a full militia of similarly armed citizens – would spring from their vehicles, surround the outgunned evildoer from all angles and drop him quicker than a careless buck at dawn on opening day.

(No need for the well-trained, professionally disciplined and appropriately armed rangers of the National Park Service. Let amateurs take dead aim!)

Mr. Harmon invites us to feel more secure knowing that his armed friends stand ready to defend us. Sorry, Mr. Harmon – no thanks.

This grandfather, Mount Desert Island native and National Rifle Association member sees a better way to keep my loved ones safe in Acadia: Keep the rules passed during the Reagan administration that have worked well for 28 years.

The law has been that guns in the park must be broken down, unloaded and not readily accessible. I can drive to Bar Harbor with my 20-gauge cased in my trunk.

And I can hike up the Perpendicular Trail confident that the most dangerous thing I may meet will be some trail-running tourist from Massachusetts.

The 2009 federal law to which Mr. Harmon referred protects the states’ right to set policy regarding possession of firearms in units of the National Park System located within their borders. This is what L.D. 1737 does.

Because Maine has several laws regarding firearms in state parks and public facilities, L.D. 1737 makes the law clear by basing the rules on magnificent Baxter, the state park most like Acadia.

As at Baxter, hunters could carry broken-down, unloaded firearms as they move to areas where hunting is permitted. L.D. 1737 is not anti-gun and it is not anti-hunter.

Gun enthusiasts know firearms are dangerous; that’s why the NRA does much fine work for gun safety education.

Military folks know accidents happen even when weapons are in the hands of well-trained soldiers. We all know what can befall even careful hunters during deer season.

Acadia has been safe. The incidence of violent crimes in our national parks is less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the rate in the rest of our country. Let’s sustain this record by keeping the rules that have made us safe.

I love being out on Acadian trails and carriage roads, especially in summer when my granddaughters are here.

That peace passes understanding. I know any dangerous situation could be handled by my friends in the NPS who carry arms as law enforcement professionals.

Mr. Harmon thinks it absurd that the law require one behavior on one side of a line and another “just one step” across a boundary or line. But we do this all the time in our democracy.

Every day in every county of our beautiful state, our citizens are required to motor along at no more than 55 mph on one side of a double-yellow highway center line and prevented from doing the same, in the same direction, just a few feet over the line.

Government makes rules and draws lines to preserve the public safety.

Mr. Harmon has an engaging sweet tooth for the bombastic metaphor, writing of a “liberal paradigm that . . . took a direct hit from a laser-guided bunker-buster launched by the Supreme Court.”

With respect for his gifts, I close with an emulation.

I will defend both the First and Second Amendment rights of M.D. Harmon to, so to speak, shoot himself in the foot.

But, please, not in Acadia. Let’s exercise our state’s right and do right by 2 million annual visitors to Acadia by prohibiting operational firearms there.



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