For the first time since 1978, someone has died of a gunshot wound in Yellowstone National Park. And for the first time since 1938, the victim was a child, a 3-year-old Idaho girl who shot herself with her father’s handgun this weekend, only three years after Congress legalized guns in national parks.
Though firing a gun is illegal in Yellowstone, firearms have been allowed in all national parks since a 2010 Republican amendment on an unrelated credit card bill passed Congress. The amount of violence in national parks is actually quite low, given the 3 million visitors annually, but the sponsor, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), has skewed that data to falsely claim his amendment led to less crime. The dangers of keeping firearms around children, however, are far more well documented.