Senators' Letter to Open National Parks to Concealed Weapons

Attached is the letter a number of senators sent to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking him to overturn the National Park Service's ban on concealed weapons in national parks.

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Firearms-Parks Letter.pdf607.75 KB

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transportation across large parks is a real problem for gun owners who don't wish to break the law, and driving around parks is impossible in a lot of cases

You are correct, Robert. This is a law that must be changed. When folks are on vacation, especially they like to carry to protect their families, in car campgrounds in particular. Folks are quite vulnerable in their tents from all kinds of derelicts.

I don't believe the issue at hand is driving through the parks with your weapon "neutralized", locked in a case in the trunk of your car Robert. The danger arises when people carry loaded weapons out on hikes, rafting trips, horseback rides and the like. I understand that the parks have a standing policy of "no firearms allowed". That stems mostly from an effort to eliminate poaching and increase the safety and enjoyment of the general public. I could be mistaken, but I've experienced nor ever heard of a incident when travel THROUGH a park was inhibited by properly stored weapons, but you could most certainly find a plethera of folks who have had permits revoked due to the discovery of firearms in their personal belongings once on park property. And rightfully so, since they, just like the "derelicts" who overstay their welcome, are law breakers who need to be dealt with properly. And the simple solution to the transients is to have the campgound personnel monitor and evict, like they're paid to do. It's not as though this task is beyond their capability, and between the trash removal folks and maintenance crews, it is extremely easy to be vigilant in the car camping areas. I agree that the backcountry could possible pose some issues. But I personally spend the majority of my camping in those remote regions, and have yet to encounter a situation that would have been effectively dealt with utilizing a firearm. And to the best of my knowledge, which is admittedly limited, I've never heard about or read about such an encounter in the park system. In fact, I can quote from multiple stories from various state parks, in various states, where such issues have been reported dating back 50+ years, with multiple homicides committed in some instances. Funny thing is, the common denominator in those situations was a Conehead-like consumption of "mass quantities" of alcohol immediately prior to the event by those responsible for the crime. Maybe we should try an all-out ban on ethanol-based beverages and see how far that flies.

I agree...ban alcohol. I think we should ban alcohol. I can't think of any reason why someone should consume alcohol while in a NP. I have been camping and hiking and hunting for over 30 years of my life and I can think of no occasion that I needed an alcoholic beverage. I have however had to scare off animals with a firearm only twice. Once while camping and once while hunting. Indeed my food was in a sealed container hanging in a tree 100 yds from camp. I just couldn't control my breath or gas while I slept. Hey...there's a business idea. Camping mints...kill the food smell on your breath and you'll save rounds of ammunition in your gun. The can also invent a gas cap for the sphincter. Wow...I guess with mints and a cork we don’t' need guns.

Of course I didn't feel as though I needed to call the local news to report said incidents so they must be false if they can't be verified with needed data.

I envision scenarios of armed campground users "protecting their families, in car campgrounds in particular" who end up taking potshots at passersby on their way to the restrooms in the middle of the night. Fearing that "Folks are quite vulnerable in their tents from all kinds of derelicts," they might shoot at anything that moves. Well-intentioned but trigger-happy campers seem to pose more of a threat than "all kinds of derelicts."

I'm glad to see this issue being discussed, and I believe some modifcations to the current "no firearms in national parks" policy should be made. In my case, I have come across two particular issues. First, as someone who enjoys the backcountry areas of national parks, I would like to be a "legal" carrier of a loaded handgun. My justification being self-defense from dangerous wildlife. (Given the changing weather patterns, I can envision bears becoming more aggressive in the future.) Second, in discussions with rangers/NPS law enforcement personnel, I have personally seen what may only be described as a bias against legal in-park fire arms possession--or a lack of knowledge of actual firearms regulations.
At a minimum, national park firearms policy ought to reflect policies similar to a majority of city/county arrangements found throughout the U.S. (to include concealed carry provisions and associated safety/background checks).

I believe that anyone who has a concealed weapons permit should have the right to legally carry in our national forests. After all, these forests belong to us. Recent events that have occurred in our national forests not only suggest that being armed could have stopped some very hideous crimes, but these crimes demand that since the government can not protect us, we must protect ourselves. Our police forces will tell you that they are there to protect us but really they are there to keep the peace. How often has someone called 911 emergency service with a life and death situation and then been found dead before the police could respond. I am not critisizing the police. They have a very difficult and serious job to perform, and I think they do a good job of it, but they can not be everywhere at the same time. So I feel very strongly in being allowed to defend myself, as I feel that others have that same right. So wheter they allow us to defend ourselves legally or we carry concealed illegally, the choice is up to us. Someone once said " I would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six". This is my way of thinking and I hope more feel the same way.

That sounds paranoid.

Get real! I hope you never encounter an angry bear or mountain lion.

My wife and I have camped at Acadia National Park in Maine, 12 of the past 15 years. We have never encountered a "derelict" nor any other campers strolling about, packing their weapons. Both facts make us feel happy and secure. Packing a weapon is a sign of insecurity. Think about it.

I spent 8 months driving around North America on a motorcycle exploring the multitude of diverse people and places this continent has to offer. I slept on the side of the road, whether that was in city, suburb, rural, or extreme backroads (aka four-wheeler trails). From Wisconsin to Florida to Southern California to Alaska to New Foundland to the East Coast. If there is one lesson I have learned it's that it only takes one use of a normally never used thing during an emergency of life and death to justify carrying it in the first place. It's a life changing experience, until you have it you cannot realize how powerful it is. I didn't carry a gun, but I did carry peppar spray (masquerading as a small fire extinguisher). A gun (or any weapon) is merely a tool, to be used for good or bad. The "bad" will always have a gun, why take away that right for the "good"? This age old question cannot be answered for a reason. I would love to believe we are in a society where there are no "bad" people but that is not yet reality. And as far as defense against wild animals goes, why would we willingly remove a tool that dramatically helped us become a resilient species? Unless of course you think humans in general are just a virus. Try reading the book " Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond. He won a Pulitzer prize with that book for a reason also. Good day.