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Gun law not a deterrent for crime in national parks, report finds

Sen. Tom Coburn argued last week that crime dropped sharply in national parks after his legislation passed to allow loaded firearms, but statistics show increases in murders, rapes and assaults.
by Chris Casteel Modified: May 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm •  Published: May 14, 2013

— Murder, manslaughter and rape cases rose sharply the year after guns were allowed in national parks, though most violent crimes fell last year to about the same level as in 2009, according to statistics released Monday by the National Park Service.

The park service numbers show 15 murder and manslaughter cases in 2010, up from four in 2009, the year Sen. Tom Coburn pushed through an amendment to allow loaded firearms in national parks located in states that had concealed carry laws.

Rapes also rose, from 34 in 2009 to 45 in 2010, as did kidnappings and aggravated assaults. Robberies dropped from 64 to 58.

The issue of park crimes arose last week when Coburn, R-Muskogee, sought unsuccessfully to amend a water projects bill with a proposal to allow firearms on land controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During that debate, Coburn said crime had fallen on National Park Service land because of his legislation to allow firearms in the parks.

The National Park Service had only partial statistics available last week, and those also reflected a slight increase in some violent crimes.

The service released more detailed numbers on Monday, showing that some of the most serious offenses on park land rose after Coburn's legislation lifted a long-running prohibition against loaded firearms.

Position defended

John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, said Monday that the senator didn't have the National Park Service statistics from 2012 when he spoke last week.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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