Burns waded into the politically sensitive issue while PBS is currently broadcasting his six-part, twelve-hour series, â€śThe National Parks: Americaâ€™s Best Idea.â€ť The New Hampshire film makerâ€™s earlier works include widely-watched productions on the Civil War, baseball, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
A threat to species big and small
In May, Congress handed gun control forces a major defeat, voting to allow visitors to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. â€ś[I] personally think it is foolish,â€ť Burns said during a question and answer session at the Press Club. â€śAll species of all kinds are threatened by guns in the parks," he added.
Burns spoke of the parksâ€™ impact on visitors in lofty â€“ some might say overwrought â€“ language. â€śThe parks are the declaration of independence applied to the landscape,â€ť he said in prepared remarks. The parks, he added, â€ścontinue to perform a kind of open heart surgeryâ€ť on those who surrender to their beauty.
A huckster's paradise
There is â€śnot enough timeâ€ť to list all of the places of beauty in the United States that are in danger of suffering from the commercialization that affects the area around Niagara Falls, he said. He called the Niagara area a â€śhuckstersâ€™ paradiseâ€ť and â€śpart of our national shame.â€ť
The youthful looking Burns, dressed in blazer and blue jeans, said he hopes his latest series â€ścould be a galvanic moment for the parksâ€ť and that it was his â€śfervent wish that more families would goâ€ť visit them as a result. He said he was especially eager to stimulate visits by African Americans and Hispanics â€śthat do not yet feel the ownership of the parksâ€ť that other citizens do.