NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees opposes a change in gun laws in the national park system.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees sees no need to change gun laws in the national parks, saying that allowing the public to carry weapons in the parks could jeopardize the safety of visitors.

Last month, you might recall, the Traveler pointed to an effort by nearly half the U.S. Senate to allow concealed weapons to be carried in the parks. Current Park Service policy allows permitted weapons to be transported through the parks, but they must be unloaded and stored so as they're not readily accessible.

Forty-seven senators, led by Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, don't think that's good enough. He says varying gun laws on federal lands can be confusing to gun holders. (The New York Times pointed out, though, that if gun holders are confused, perhaps they shouldn't be permitted to carry guns.)

In a letter to Representative Nick Rahall, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, the coalition asked that if legislation proposing a change in the current regulations reaches his committee, that it not gain favorable consideration.

We believe that to change these regulations so that visitors might wear or keep firearms close at hand in national parks - guided by differing state laws -could significantly increase the danger to visitors in national parks. Equally worrisome is that such a practice would almost certainly put wildlife in many parks at greater risk, wrote the coalition. Poaching would become easier. And visitors who believe that carrying a firearm provides them with extra “security” and the authority to shoot animals would be far more likely to use deadly force whenever they feel the slightest threat. Information gathered by State and Federal wildlife management organizations throughout the country overwhelmingly indicates that both people and wildlife are safer when guns are not the first choice when people feel threatened.

Comments

I definitely agree with the Coalition that the current gun regulations should not be changed. I feel safer when I visit a National Park knowing that some fool is not carrying a gun that could endanger my life or anyone else's life. And just as important, wildlife is safer and can do there own thing in their habitat, not the humans habitat. Please do not change this law!!!!!!!

If the New York Times is so smart (and all of us "hick" gun owners are so dumb) then why don't they show a nice uniform website, flyer, or periodical that displays what the differing state laws are for carrying a concealed weapon? The only sites I'm aware of are privately run and have a disclaimer about them not being responsible if their information isn't correct. Show me their "data" that says that those who posses a concealed carry permit will lower the safety in ANY situation.

The tax code is confusing to most, should we stop paying taxes?
sounds good to me.

We have the same discussion every time this issue comes up. I will repeat myself only because I'm hoping I will eventually reach someone who has not thought this through to the logical conclusion. I am continually amazed by the naivety of informed, intelligent Americans. Mr. Anonymous "feels safer" knowing that "some fool" is not carrying a gun in a National Park. How does he know this? Wait, I know; because it's ILLEGAL!! Naturally he knows that EVERYBODY obeys ALL laws and regulations. He knows that nobody ever rapes, robs, mugs, poaches, kills, uses drugs, etc. simply because it's ILLEGAL to do so!! Please think this through Mr. Anonymous. Laws are for the law-abiding, not criminals.

FYI, I am not "some fool". I have received many hours of expensive training, and numerous background checks so that I can carry a gun for my families' protection. I only hope that I never need to use it.

Yes, freak out, gun fans. Use LOTS OF CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

That way EVERYONE will SEE that you are TOTALLY CALM AND REASONABLE!!! And that you should be TRUSTED to CARRY YOUR GUNS around YELLOWSTONE, in case YOGI TRIES ANYTHING!!!!!!!

Right now it's legal to keep your precious guns in the trunk of your car while you're in a National Park. Is that just NOT CLOSE ENOUGH? When the terrorists attack your campsite you could still make a HEROIC DASH to the motorized arms cache and BE A HERO!!!!!

You silly goobers, when armed, pose a much bigger safety threat than the boogeymen in your own heads. Allowing guns in National Parks would undeniably make the Parks more dangerous. That's what the people who have worked at our Parks are saying, and they're right.

You have the right to protect your homes armed to the teeth. So stay at home where it's safe. Anyone can decide to cross that double yellow line at anytime and take out your entire family packed into the station wagon -- so do we need anti-SUV devices to protect ourselves from a possible lane-changer? The list of silly protections we could carry around with ourselves could be endless. It's a dangerous world with inherent risk and the odds are in your favor to make it through unscathed.

Well, I'm not going to get into the gun debate itself, but this part of the quoted portion of the original post intrigued me:

Information gathered by State and Federal wildlife management organizations throughout the country overwhelmingly indicates that both people and wildlife are safer when guns are not the first choice when people feel threatened.

One thing the parks should teach us is how to respect and honor nature. Everywhere there are "do not feed the animals" and "don't pollute the water" signs. Taunting and harrassing wildlife is illegal and discouraged, as is collecting of plants, fossils, etc. A well-run park reminds all visitors how much better nature is when man isn't mucking around with it.

What does this have to do with guns?

Well, if guns give the public a greater sense of security around wild animals, then people are not going to do what they should do when in the parks: leave wildlife alone!

On a recent trip to Yosemite, I entered a part of the valley with a big warning about mountain lion country. So, I was very careful and followed their recommendations. Same thing with bear country in Alaska. You give these animals a wide berth, and if you stumble across one, back off and give them the right of way, etc. People follow these rules not only because they should, but because fear drives them to do so! I know it did for me ...

If people had guns in the parks, that "fear factor" would go away, and people would stomp around, unafraid, and venture more into wild animal territory, something not only dangerous but also harmful to those animals. They need to have their own, unspoiled hunting grounds.

Wildlife in the parks are not to be hunted, nor are they to be trifled with. Allowing firearms would do both.

Let's remember what the purpose of the parks really is. That applies to guns, or motorcycles, or ATVs, or whatever.

Sensible response, however, Yosemite has it's own jail because the crime rate is so high. I'm in favor of packing a gun not for animal, but for human predators. On the back roads of Death Valley and Big Bend, you won't see a ranger for weeks. I might carry a gun and if so it would be loaded. What are you going to do with an empty gun?

Oh yes, I'd feel safe camped next to a confused gun-loaded holder. NOT! A loaded gun at your side may makes you feel brave in a national park where wildlife has the right-of-way, especially when you stumble into the path of a bear because you're not paying attention - feeling brave. What about poachers; the people that will have "license" to kill whatever they want? I don't want to ever see anything like this! But I especially don't want to see some child hurt or killed by a wayward shot. The parks have done fine without loaded weapons. Why change the law now?

I agree most people with conceal carry permits are less likely to pull or use their weapon, because they know that pulling that weapon can in most cases cause them to wind up with feloney charges. I as a gun carrying American hope and prey I never have to use my gun on another person but with our world today I will not think twice about using it to protect or defend myself or my family. Most people who carry know that a gun for self protection is not the same gun you use for hunting. I think we/I have more respect for wildlife in their natural enviroment than you uneducated anti gun people, which are the same people who I've seen trying to walk up to wild animals to either pet them or try to feed them even though there are signs telling them not to approach animals .

If you read the Constitution, you'll see that the Second Amendment states "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." There's been some argument over what these phrases mean, but it really seems to be common sense to me. The current federal law permits people to keep their guns while traveling in national parks, but it denies them the right to bear, or carry, guns on federal land. Each federal employee takes an oath to defend the entire Constitution, not just parts that individual likes. I suggest that if the NPS wants to keep people from carrying guns on federal land, then the Constitution, specfically the Second Amendment, needs to be amended, not ignored.

This isn't supposed to be about gun people bashing anti-gun people and vice versa. This is about the safety of the parks, the safety of wildlife and the safety of people. I don't oppose owning a concealed permit, but there is a time and a place and the parks are not the place to carry. Follow the law (don't change it) and just enjoy a nice visit to our wonderful parks.

So all the wilderness and animal lovers actually believe that the concealed permit holders HAVE NOT been camping or hiking along side of them for years. Naive!
I can assure you that many more people than you know have carried pistols in their backpacks. Haven't heard of any Dodge City shootouts around the campfires, or piles of dead wolves and grizzlies.
The senators are only trying to keep otherwise law-abiding people from becoming convicted felons, if they should get caught with a handgun in their backpack. The same gun that they have probably been hiking with for years, and not felt the need to shoot man or beast yet.

I have been hiking all over the US and overseas. For the most part I have carried a firearm every time, with the exception of Hawaii, and Europe. I have never needed to use it, but it gave me great comfort knowing it was at my disposal. I find it unthinkable that I could be arrested for carrying a pistol in the dangerous back country. Especially when you can go for long periods of time before someone could come to aid you after an attack from either wild animal or man. I would feel that my Govt. was at fault and forced me into unnecessary danger by denying me the right to bare arms in the wilderness.

[i]The senators are only trying to keep otherwise law-abiding people from becoming convicted felons, if they should get caught with a handgun in their backpack.[i/]
Doesn't make you much of a "law abiding citizen" if you're willfully disregarding the current the law, does it?

[i]I find it unthinkable that I could be arrested for carrying a pistol in the dangerous back country.[i/]
I've spent numerous nights in the backcountry. Just where is this alleged "dangerous" territory?

[i]I would feel that my Govt. was at fault and forced me into unnecessary danger by denying me the right to bare arms in the wilderness.[i/]
Oh, please.............

[i]The current federal law permits people to keep their guns while traveling in national parks, but it denies them the right to bear, or carry, guns on federal land.[i/]
Wrong. The current law prohibits carrying LOADED firearms in the national parks. You can keep you weaponry cased and in your possession at all times, provided the piece is UNLOADED. Let's attempt not to misrepresent the facts for our own benefit.

[i]I think we/I have more respect for wildlife in their natural enviroment than you uneducated anti gun people,[i/]
Funny how anyone who disagrees with our viewpoint is immediately tagged "uneducated". I take umbrage with your stereotyping, and will compare favorable in any educational forum you desire. Bet on it.

[i]Laws are for the law-abiding, not criminals.[i/]
Again, not quite true. Criminals are deemed as such due to their purposefully ignoring societal rules and regulations. Anyone can be a "non-criminal element". It's a choice we all make, every day, in many aspects of our daily lives, hopefully with some fore-thought as to the consequences associated with the wrong choices.

[i]The tax code is confusing to most, should we stop paying taxes? [i/]
DEFINATELY!!! You really need to ask?

Well put Jon!

[i]and all of us "hick" gun owners are so dumb)[i/]
Guilty conscience? I never saw the term "hick" in the text of the Times article referenced above. And by the way, many laws vary from state to state, including basic automobile operations, business practices, warranties, schooling, marital prerequisites, etc. And as any judge or peace officer will attest to, "ignorance of the law is NO excuse".
That was a pretty poor arguement on your part. One could just as well reply with sonething akin to "show me the data that purports to raise the safety levels in areas where persons with concealed weapons trod". In neither instance does the data exist.

I like your logical tirade Barky. One a a pitiful few comments in this segment that elicits any manner of thought progression sans emotion and testosterone.

I'm back Kurt!! Hope the holidays went well for you all.

Awesome...It's great to have Lone Hiker to tell us all how stupid we've been. With all the time he spends posting for the anti-gun platform we'll be singing sweet songs to each other in no time. Talk about a last word freak! If he truly feels that the data doesn't exist on either side of the isle then why would he feel it's a better option to limit the freedoms of those who have a preference? I'm not truly asking you to answer Lone Hiker (although obviously you will...it's called a rhetorical question). We know the reason you will answer is because you have to be the one to set everyone straight on each and every line item on national parks. When is the last time you were actually able to look at an issue and step out of your own experience? (Rhetorical questions again....you can't get out of your own experience) Stop trying to limit other people’s freedoms and worry about your own. If you don’t' want to defend yourself then stop trying to take the ability away from other people.

The current federal law permits people to keep their guns while traveling in national parks, but it denies them the right to bear, or carry, guns on federal land.
Wrong. The current law prohibits carrying LOADED firearms in the national parks. You can keep you weaponry cased and in your possession at all times, provided the piece is UNLOADED.

Semantics.

Suppose the Second Amendment said "A well-educated electorate being necessary for self-governance in a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed." Now suppose the government makes a law stating you can keep your books on you in a national park, but the book must be kept in a case and you can't open it and you can't read it. Absurd, right? So is the current regulation. Thinking the founders would think "bearing arms" means keeping them unloaded and in a case represents delusional thinking.

Again, if you don't like the Second Amendment, why not go through Constitutional proceedures to change it? Why ignore it or violate it? No one will address this issue. The government and its citizens should not be able to ignore the parts of the Constitution they don't like.

Actually, how exactly the 2nd Amendment should be interpreted has been questioned for quite some time. Does it mean states can field a militia, or that individuals have a right to bear arms?

We might soon have an answer to that question, as the U.S. Supreme Court this past November agreed to consider a case out of the District of Columbia that brings into play exactly what the 2nd Amendment means.

The court's ruling, no doubt, will spur some serious reaction from both sides.

Good point Kurt. That is exactly what conservatives (when we actually had 2 parties instead of the hodgepodge we have now) have been saying for years. Leave such laws to the state and not the federal government. This then lends to the point of the proposed law change. Let the individual state (who knows their citizens better than the fed) determine how their laws are legislated and enforced.

Further, let's get the states out of the city government's business and let's get the city out of the community's business. The fact that we keep having all these national organizations (National association of park rangers) saying they don’t want us to carry in their parks just further lends to the national control government usurps on its constituents. It’s not the park ranger’s park; it’s the individual citizen’s park.

As a hunter and supporter of the National Park Service, I see no point in changing the firearm rule. The amount of visitors I see every year in Yellowstone and Grand Teton get too close to wild animals on their own accord are not deserving to protect themselves with a firearm. If you are within 30 yds of a grizzly / elk / bison/ etc, you deserve to be munched or trampled if that animal chooses to do so. Bear Spray is allowed in the park, which is proven far more effective than a firearm in an animal attack situation. I urge all supporters to petition against this change for the betterment of the park and it's visitors.

Arguing that people have an absolute right to carry guns because of the second amendment is absurd. There are, and always have been, many places, federal, state, local and private that have prohibited (and do prohibit) loaded weapons besides our National Parks. I doubt that loaded weapons were allowed in the Constitutional Convention, for that matter. In this post 911 world is no time to relax restrictions on carrying guns in places like the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Capitol Building etc. Nor is it a time to relax them in Yellowstone, Yosemite etc. Should we allow students and teachers to carry guns in our schools? How about airports, train and bus stations etc.
States and local governments all have tons of restrictions on who may or may not carry a gun, what permits are or are not required etc. Some might argue that these are state and local governments, and the second amendment is only designed to restrict what the federal government can do. I would disagree. Does this mean that my local or state government can restrict my freedom of speech then?
Surely "Anonymous" above is joking when he says, "The government and its citizens should not be able to ignore the parts of the Constitution they don't like." My Dear Sir (Madam), where have you been? The Bush administration, and the Patriot Act, have totally shredded the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth amendments! What makes the second so holy, while these others are disposable?

What about that young girl what was brutally murdered while walking the Appalachian trail a few weeks ago? The animals are not what I fear while transverse the back country, it’s the two legged critters I don’t trust. I am a gun owner and CCW licensee, but I don’t hunt . My creed is , “don’t kill it or bother it, unless you fully intend to eat it”. My local supermarket supplies me just fine. But if you want to hunt I have nothing against that , just do it legally. This silly idea that if you let licensed hand gunners into a National Park that poaching will go berserk is totally unfounded and stupid. Here is in the Smoky Mountains, a few years ago a black bear killed a woman while her and her boyfriend were fishing or picnicking . Another incident occurred when a black bear invaded a camp and killed another woman and hurt a child. So don’t tell me this won’t happen. After all criminal will continue to prey on unarmed citizens, and they will carry their weapons , laws or no laws. I guarantee you that Park Rangers don’t go into the back country unarmed, so why should we? So get off your “I know better than you , liberal attitude.”

I believe the "fools" are already carrying loaded weapons in the National Parks. Laws such as this one don't keep lawbreakers from breaking laws (see the "war on drugs" for an example). This law will affect the law biding citizens who don't carry because it's illegal; these are the same folks who don't rob a liquor store because it's wrong and illegal. Those you are concerned about (justifiably) don't care about the law.

Dear Anti-gun activist....If you chose to be a potential victim, that is your privilige. I would much rather have the ability & means of protecting my loved ones & myself via my 2nd amendment rights. When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. There are many other countries in the world where this is a fact of life.

Finally...an actual reasonable response to the topic instead of "guns are bad" and those who believe in the second amendment are somehow kooks. Barky, you do well by illustrating a good point that I had heretofore not thought of with regards to the loss of, as you put it, fear of wildlife(perhaps healthy respect may be better). This is such a valid point I actually smiled that there was someone as well thought out in the world that could go against my viewpoint.

I thought about what you said and have this as a response. I am only marginally afraid of myself causing trouble in the wilderness with regards to disturbing animals in a dangerous way; perhaps this has to do with the 6 years I spent in the army (callsign Prophet) but I feel I have a good sense of how to move through nature. Of course, thats me and while I wish everyone were as careful as you and I not to endanger the public AND the wildlife (ie feeding bears is basically giving them a death sentence when they begin to rely on people instead of themselves) I do worry that the public as a whole is not so carry and it is very possible that a nuisance bear may come looking for some food around my campsite. Throw in some of baby bears for her to protect and things can get really dicey really quick. Perhaps a few shots in the air can do a little more to spook her off than simply waving my arms and yelling. And I agree barky, if we start allowing hunting rifles into the parks then that will probably lead to hunting, but I am for allowing pistols in the park because one rarely needs to protect themselves at 200 yards but at 20ft the need may arise and a pistol is a suitable firearm for defense.

But as I said, I am only marginally afraid of that scenario. The scenario I am more wary of is the one that has been brought up before in that, while the legal minded citizens of this land will invariably follow such restrictions the criminal element will not. And what better place for a criminal to partake in crime than in places where they face little resistence from an armed victim. This is one of the main reasons why cities such as Washington DC and Detroit are such dangerous places, when you ban guns for legal citizens then you open criminals up to running roughshod over the people. Not one week ago the VP of columbia artists in NYC was pistol whipped and held up and lost $150,000 in broad daylight. He was lucky to escape with his life but the NYC gun ban did little to stop the brazen robber from using a pistol in his crime.

Have we all ready forgotten Meredith Emerson, the 24 year old girl from Georgia who was beheaded while on a hiking trip by some drifter that crossed her path? Maybe she never saw the deathblow coming...but if she did maybe if she was armed the results may have been different.

Someone mentioned how if we're so afraid of terrorists we should stay home...firstly, its not about terrorists, its about the fact that we live in a world that has danger in it both from abroad, nature, and the random person you meet on the trail. Secondly, we shouldn't have to hide in our homes in order to remain safe. If people legally carrying weapons in a National Park bothers you detractors so much then you should take your own advice and stay home. Or better yet pick up some iron and hit the shooting range. I mean, you wouldnt go hiking with the bare minimum amount of water...even if you were only planning to go out for an hour would you? You never know how that one hour hike may get you turned around and end up being 10 days. Its a matter of prevention.

While I can respect the well thought out arguments that people like Barky can bring forth, too often people rely on hysterical sensationalism like references to the old west and espound on how much guns are evil and so is the NRA. Despite the fact that most layman peoples understanding of how the old west "really" was is based off of spaghetti westerns and dime store novels. To think the old west was really like that is to say that when i watch the news I only hear about planes that crash land therefore the majority of planes that fly end in crashes.

But I digress. Barky, I hope that people would try and use some common sense when dealing with nature at all times, be it armed or unarmed though I think you are onto something that may need to be dealt with when this bill passes. But as the adage goes you shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

If you don't want loaded guns in national parks, use the following link to send an e-mail saying so to your reps. in Washington.

http://ga1.org/campaign/Coburn_Amendment?qp_source=adv%5fhme

That's funny that you think that folks who carry have any intention of harming another human or wildlife in a national park. Will you be thinking that when when of those "fools" is saving your life when you're being attacked by a bear? You are more likely to be attacked by wildlife because you're wearing perfume than you are being attacked by a citizen acting on his 2nd amendment right to bear arms and protect himself. Good luck to you, you're going to need it.

T-Fly

Tell your sob story to the women who are raped or killed in our national parks each year. I am a gun owner and I have a PhD so am I too stupid to protect myself? You are not getting any points with me sugar. Perhaps you're scared of guns in parks because you have not had experience with them? An individual with a CCW permit can current carry that gun into the grocery store near the park but not into the park per se. The main reason for the establishment of these laws was to reduce poaching. The unintended consequence has been to create victims. Gun free zones don't work. Why do you think mass murders often happen in gun free zones but not at gun clubs or gun shows?? Come on put your thinking cap T-Fly on I am sure you can come up with a fantastic reason to account for this well known fact.

Linda, you obviously know nothing about bears. Just ask an Alaskan about bears. People who know about bears will not even put out their garbage without a gun. As people encroach on the space of bears they lose their fear of humans. This in turn increases the likelihood of an attack. And I sorry to tell you my friend but bear spray is virtually useless in most real life situations. But you should be safe since it sounds like you never go in the back country anyway. If you ever do go in the woods please don't feed the bears so I would need to shoot em.

The anti-gun gang hysteria never ceases to amaze me. "We're afraid that people with permits might have guns and we won't know it!. Eeewwww!" Why don't you whine about all of the gun-carrying criminals you pass every day? For your information, since gun -banners never do the research, as of the 2006 FBI data, there were appx 14,000 non-suicide firearm deaths in the U.S. Of that number appx 7800 were committed with handguns. The trend in firearm deaths is that typically around 70% are committed as a result of criminal behavior by actual criminals who didn't bother to get a background check or permit for the stolen gun they used. Law-abiding citizens used guns more than a million times each year to stop crimes. Concealed carry permit revocation rates are typically less than 1% and usually for non-violent behavior. Except Philthadelphia which has a revocation rate of more than 10%. It's not a gun problem it's a Philthadelphia crime problem But that new $45 million sports complex sure helped take a bite out of crime, eh? Stop the anti-gun bigotry. You have absolutely no proof that citizens with concealed carry permits will change your national park experience. Except to make it safer. Yes, safer. Because criminals now might think the next person they try to rape, kill or rob might actually be able to defend themselves. Don't ell me about the park rangers because we all know when you're on a 10 mile hike you never see one ranger. People complaining about this don't have a clue what it means to have their lives threatened and being defenseless.

Rick, good to see you back at the Traveler, although I'm sorry it took the gun issue to bring you back.

That aside, if you could provide a link to your FBI data that'd be helpful. Here are some other numbers, from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:


Gun Deaths and Injury - The United States Leads the World in Firearm Violence

• In 2004, 29,569 people in the United States died from firearm-related deaths – 11,624
(39%) of those were murdered; 16,750 (57%) were suicides; 649 (2.2%) were accidents;
and in 235 (.8%) the intent was unknown. [5] In comparison, 33,651 Americans were
killed in the Korean War and 58,193 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War.[6]

• For every firearm fatality in the United States in 2005, there were estimated to be more
than two non-fatal firearm injuries.[7]

• In 2004, firearms were used to murder 56 people in Australia, 184 people in Canada, 73
people in England and Wales, 5 people in New Zealand, and 37 people in Sweden.[8] In
comparison, firearms were used to murder 11,624 people in the United States.[9]

• In 2005, there were only 143 justifiable homicides by private citizens using handguns in
the United States.[10]

You can find the entire report here.

One thing I find interesting in your data and the above is that, if I interpret your numbers correctly, there has been an increase in murders by roughly 2,400 from 2004 to 2006. Now, I'm not suggesting that the rise in murders is associated with law-abiding citizens with gun permits. Indeed, if you believe the Brady numbers, in 2005 just 143 justifiable homicides could be attributed to private citizens with permitted weapons, so private citizens don't seem to be that involved in gun play.

But some might argue that arming more Americans with weapons isn't decreasing murders but is leading to more suicides, accidental deaths, and accidental shootings that didn't lead to a death. Plus, as the Brady Campaign points out, more and more youth are being killed because of our gun culture:

Gun Violence - Young Lives Cut Short

• In 2004, nearly 8 children and teenagers, ages 19 and under, were killed with guns
every day.[11] (My emphasis)

• In 2004, firearm homicide was the second-leading cause of injury death for men and
women 10-24 years of age - second only to motor vehicle crashes.[12]

• In 2004, firearm homicide was the leading cause of death for black males ages 15-34.[13]

• From 1999 through 2004, an average of 916 children and teenagers took their own lives
with guns each year.[14]

• Each year during 1993 through 1997, an average of 1,621 murderers who had not
reached their 18th birthdays took someone's life with a gun.[15]

And, as Brady points out, the mere existence of a gun in the home leads to more shootings:

Guns in the Home - A Greater Risk to Family and Friends

• For every time a gun is used in a home in a legally-justifiable shooting there are 22
criminal, unintentional, and suicide-related shootings.[16]

• The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home.[17]

• The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide fivefold.[18]

How do those numbers square with your contention that a better-armed America is a safer America? I don't doubt that there are plenty of criminals out and about with illegally obtained guns. But from the above statistics, it doesn't seem to me that the answer is simply to arm more folks.

Wow! Kurt, these stats are most alarming and frightening. It will be no wonder with these hard cold facts that the NRA will distort this report to benefit the holy-then-thou gun lobby. My first encounter with a gun slaying was when I worked at the local hospital years ago as a surgical tech. The young slain peace officer was in his thirties and did leave a wife with two kids. I will never forget that blood stained blue uniform with bullets holes drilled into it. Never! Until this day, I will always swear off the NRA as an organization that glamorizes gun and bullets which places less emphasis on gun safety and more on gun sales. RicK, I definitely think Kurt's FBI facts speaks well for it's self: A better armed America is not safer.

Q) You know the more common name for a "well armed society"?

A) A war zone

If that's your idea of a "safer" society, God help us all. EVERYBODY loses those battles.

If you can get them to ask the wrong questions...

Why does a government who, has people in charge of nuclear weapons and armies supplied with tanks and missiles and all other sort of very expensive weaponry, have any moral right to deny my right to a hand gun.

You know what tyranny is, it's when some people claim the right to use violence to disarm other people.

The gun debate isn't about crime, it's about property rights. The first property is my body which includes my life. I have the right to protect my property. I don't ask politicians for permission to have rights which are innate. That's the mentality of a slave.

Be it a bear, or a crazy criminal, or a disgruntled woodchuck, I have the right to self defense. Not because some politician say I have it, but because it is a fundamental human right. To deny me that right is to forfeit all other rights. Banning guns is not pragmatically effective, but that argument hasn't 't worked. I propose we call it what it is, it is hypocritical to ban guns, and then enforce that ban with men who are armed with... yes guns. If guns are "bad" then they are bad for everyone, if they are not bad they are not bad for everyone. You can't just invent random moral categories based on your own personal bigotries... well you can , but your wrong.

A person traveling in the back country unarmed is as irresponsible as a person traveling in the back country with out proper clothing.

If you don't feel like you can trust yourself with your own protection in the form of a gun, then don't carry one. I respect your right to not carry a gun and I would never suggest forcing you to carry one. But no one has the right to deny me the right to defend my life.

All that any law really is, is an opinion with a gun.

Kurt, I’ll tell ya’ what. I’ll buy your Brady Bunch “statistics” if you believe whatever the NRA says. That’s what I thought. We're not talking specifically about the need for a concealed carry permit holder to shoot someone ("justifiable homicides" - although police shootings are part of the overall data set that the Brady site doesn't specify). Just having the gun and showing the gun to the criminal is enough in most cases to prevent the crime. The Brady numbers just skew to their viewpoint and play to emotions.

When I do my research I let my taxpayer dollars defend my point. You have to work to get the information because there’s so much out there. I can readily see not many of the posters on your site have gone through the effort. They're just passionate about preventing people from carrying a handgun.

Some of the contributors’ snobby perceptions that national parks are Eden-like, safe, sacrosanct and, above all, exempt from Constitutional rights are delusional. To use the line of choice of anti-gunners, “…if it saves just one life” carrying a gun is worth it. Since the MINIMUM number of defensive gun uses per year determined by research done by Kates, Kleck et. al. is at least 1 million there is ample evidence the case for concealed handguns is valid. My personal decision to carry a firearm is on based on personal experience and the fact that an idiot 16-year old nearly killed me while I was riding my motorcycle.

For those of your posters who are intellectually honest enough to do some web browsing and look for government and law enforcement-reported data, I’ve actually saved them the hours it would take to actually dig up this information. These data ought to get you started and give you a perspective on who commits the crimes (Hint: it’s the criminals against criminals) and the number of crimes committed with handguns. (Hint: way less than you think or the Brady Bunch will tell you).

Since I’m actually one of the guys who are responsible for the proposed regulation all of you are protesting I can tell you I’ve spoken with Dep. Ass’t Interior Secretary Lyle Laverty and have provided him with much of this data:

FBI 2006 Homicide Stats
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_10.html
DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_10.html
Natinal Vital Statistcs Reports: Deaths – Final Data for 2005 Search for “Firearm” Tables 18-20
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_10.pdf
PA State Police handgun permit and handgun sales data 2003. Play around with the year in the URL and you may be able to get other data sets
http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/lib/psp/2003_County_Records.pdf

I’m always amazed at how lazy some of the more vitriolic anti-gun people are when it comes to [attempting to] defend their loony gun-hater claims. There are 38 right-to-carry states that have had virtually no problems with concealed carry permit holders. Even the most resistant police officials concede they’re surprised at how the transition has gone. I never see any anti-gun proponent quoting any of these statistics. They always get the “truth” from the Brady Gang or the “Ban-The Gun” group” du jour.

None of the posters to your site has offered any data to back up some of the silly, bigoted, paranoid claims about concealed carry permit holders. It’s always the same old, “I’m scared!” or “They’ll shoot Bambi” or “They’ll shoot my favorite tree!” or just, “Those macho gun nuts.”

The anti-gun bigots (yes, in many cases they are the genuine article) continue to blather about emotions and feelings and sensitivities without mention of victims who may have been able to defend themselves. Not surprisingly, no one in this forum complains about the actual criminals who commit the crimes! Someone - not me! -wrote very recently (don’t remember where I heard it but it was facetious) that since 90% of Philadelphia shooting victims are black – and many are criminals themselves - and 99% of the shooters are blacks with criminal records if we just isolate that demographic Philly’s gun problem would go away. Rendell unfortunately wouldn’t go away and would simply continue to pander to his gun-hating constituency.

Does any poster here have verifiable proof that a person with a concealed carry permit actually committed a crime in a national park with their handgun? Basically, put up or shut up. The Interior Department couldn’t prove it either. Thank you Karen Taylor-Goodrich for your dedicated years of steadfast stonewalling and deception.

I’ve told this story to many legislators now. My wife and I frequently visit Shenandoah National Park. We spend money, we hike. Heck we got engaged there. My wife jogs on the trails. A lot. Back in 1996 we heard people everywhere muttering about a murder. Turns out two women were brutally murdered on the same trail my wife jogs on and that we both hike on near Skyland. Yeah, Mr. Park Ranger, tell me again how safe the parks are? Murders and crimes happen. Especially in gun-free- victim zones. If you are the statistic of the day IT DOES matter.

In all the years I’ve spent hiking the trails in Shenandoah I’ve yet to see ONE ranger more than a hundred yards or so out on a trail. I’m sure it must be different in the majestic parks out west. I just haven’t gotten there yet.

You know what? I don’t care if folks here don’t like guns. I don’t care if they have a seething, visceral hatred of guns. I just don’t care about those opinions. I do care when they lie or distort in order to advance their attempts to deny my Constitutional right to defend my life. I will defend my rights with the truth. And I will prevail. Not a threat, just the truth.

Editor's note: A sentence of this comment was deleted for being off-color and off point.

Rick,

Thanks much for the urls. There is indeed a world of data out there pointing to high numbers of gun crimes. Before you put down the Brady Campaign's numbers, though, if you look at their footnotes (you can find them here), much of their information comes from the same sources you cite, including the FBI and Centers for Disease Control.

As to your question seeking "verifiable proof that a person with a concealed carry permit actually committed a crime in a national park with their handgun?," if you go back through the comments posted on this issue on the Traveler you'll find a few in which the individual has said they carried a concealed weapon into a park against the law, so yes, I'd say that's pretty good proof of committing a crime. Now, you might quibble over the severity of the crime, but it's a crime nonetheless. If you do quibble, where do you stop?

There also, as you likely know, have been numerous poaching incidents in the parks, although it's hard to say without further research whether these individuals had concealed carry permits or not. But they obviously went "through the process" to obtain their firearms. Are you suggesting that CCW permit holders have a higher sense of morality than those without such permits?

As the tenor of your comment points out, this is a highly charged and extremely emotional issue. It will continue to be so no matter which way Interior comes down on the proposed regulation. If it tosses out the changes and retains the existing language, I'd wager there will be permit holders who ignore those laws and pack in the parks just the same, and if it changes the regulations those opposed to guns in the parks will continue to lobby for a change.

As the saying goes, only the lawyers and lobbyists will be better off.

Rick,

Thank you very much for your efforts and comments. I appreciate you assisting in any process that allows us to decide our own safety and protection. I love freedom and relish any opportunity to gain some freedom back. Please keep up the fight. Knowledge is the real power. Hopefully we can all convince people to give up the emotion of issues and take a logical look at the platform.

Kurt, you said:

> if you go back through the comments posted on this issue on the Traveler you'll find a few in which the individual has said they carried a concealed
> weapon into a park against the law, so yes, I'd say that's pretty good proof of committing a crime.

I'd call that an exercise of a Constitutional right. And "life insurance." While I can't say never, no park visitor I've ever heard of has been accosted by someone with a concealed carry permit. No concealed carry permit holder has been arrested for poaching or vandalism. DOI couldn't provide any proof either and we hit them with two Freedom of Information Act requests to get the "incidents" they alleged. Aside from that why should I give a hoot what some retired park ranger thinks on this issue? These guys are typically anti-gun to begin with, had a gun, and could have defended himself. The odds were stacked in their favor.

The point I've made is concealed carry permit holders, the group in question here, do not commit the crimes. Criminals do. Every time. Timid, uninformed people making unsubstantiated, emotional claims don't help save lives at all.

People refuse to take responsibility for their safety and their loved one's safety. They arrogantly and naively (OK, maybe they just haven't considered this aspect) believe someone in "law ENFORCEMENT" (that's what they are since the courts established LEOs do not have an obligation to "protect") should risk their lives to protect them instead of doing the risky, messy work themselves.

if gun control worked Washington D.C. would be the nirvana folks claim the park system is. Gun control is nothing more than government-mandated aiding and abetting of criminals. The world is full of evil people intent on taking advantage of unsuspecting, naive people. Regardless of how nice you are to people and how much you extol the virtues of civility someone will try to get you at some point in your life. Do you want to be the next victim?

Another anecdote - true story. Back in 1980 I was working for a seismic surveying firm on old RT 25 in the Cumberland Gap between Cumberland Gap, TN and Middleboro, KY - ironically, now a national wildlife area or park. A couple hours before dawn I was awakened by shooting outside my door. It lasted for a really long time it seemed. Several calibers; pistol and shotgun. I jumped out of bed, hit the floor and immediately tried to call 911. Guess what? They cut the phone lines. Now, the only way out was the front door - or potentially in an ambulance. Fortunately for me the shooter was someone getting even with the motel manager and shot the heck out of the office and a couple vehicles. I didn't know that at the time. I and my roommate were unhurt. From that point on, though, I realized I really was the only one responsible for and capable of ensuring my safety.

Consider this very carefully: when seconds matter, help is just minutes away. When the cops arrive they're investigating a crime, not saving your life. Now, just think if one of the recent shooting victims in these gun-free nirvanas had the opportunity to defend themselves. If you want to go through life thinking someone will help you in a life-threatening situation you could be gravely wrong.

I'll say it again. Concealed carry permit holders are responsible for preventing crime and saving lives. Not the converse. Guns save lives.

Rick,

I'm not trying to debate about guns in the parks or nitpick...but I do think it's worth pointing out that the links you provided are to reports/studies, etc that were done several years ago. The FBI, CDC, DOJ and PA links all referenced documents published no later than 2006.

My point is that we don't live in 2006 (thank God!), and I think it might be worth it for you to dig up some more recent information, or determine and let us know if this is that most recent info, to support your argument. Just because something was one way in '06 doesn't mean it couldn't have changed.

One thing I forgot to mention, Kurt. The stats above referring to:

> Guns in the Home - A Greater Risk to Family and Friends
> • For every time a gun is used in a home in a legally-justifiable shooting there are 22
> criminal, unintentional, and suicide-related shootings.[16]

> • The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home.[17]
> • The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide fivefold.[18]

Kellerman used incomplete/innacurate data and the report has long since been discredited. Ludwig is a known gun hater who produced biased reports favored by, well, the Brady folks who insist that somehow "[inanimate] guns murder" X number of times each year. They know they can't get away anymore with pumping up the numbers by saying a gun causes suicide. I'll find someone from the NRA or GOA to provide some balance for the aforementioned "statistics." Just teasing. Stick with FBI, CDC, DOJ facts and not the opinions of that group.

You said:

> think it might be worth it for you to dig up some more recent information

That's the most recent data available. As I mentioned I had to really work to get the PA SP data. That's how those folks who report the data work. The final reports are always at least a year or two old that I've been able to find, especially from the CDC. If you or anyone else here would like to take a turn doing some research I could use the help!

Things don't change that much year to year. Criminals continue to commit crime and kill people. I prefer to not be one of the statistics, thanks.

This is truly an emotional discussion. We are fortunate to have Kurt willing to spend so much of his personal time and energy to facilitate this blog.

Kurt mentioned people who have confessed that they would violate the Park regulations about concealed-carry. I am one of those people. Even though I think that the current ban is a violation of the 2nd amendment, two WRONGS do not make a RIGHT. That's why I'm so much involved in supporting the rule change. My current choices are to NOT visit National Parks (lousy choice), hike in Parks WITHOUT my pistol (unacceptable choice), or violate the law and carry anyway (illegal and objectionable). I am usually a law-abiding citizen. I stop for red lights at deserted intersections in the middle of the night because it's the LAW, whether I agree with it or not.

As for all these stats, either side can quote VOLUMES of stats to prove their point. We have to go with what we believe and what we think is right. As for these so-called "incidents", I can't help but wonder why they're not in the newspaper, on on the 6'oclcok news. Our media loves to report BAD news; where's the reports?

I'd like to add that my pistol is an inanimate object, incapable of good or evil. It cannot "possess" me and cause me to be evil like in the science fiction movies. I am not evil because I own and carry a gun any more than my wife is evil because she knows that I carry a gun and still loves me.

The DOI secretary has opened the rules-change up for public comment. I just checked the website that Kurt linked us to. More than seven THOUSAND comments have been made! I've read pages of them. I won't try to convince you that I've read them all, but I have read more than a hundred of them. With ONE exception, ALL of the comments are in favor of the proposed rule change allowing concealed-carry. Either those who oppose the rule change are too busy, or maybe they don't really care. I would have expected to hear a loud outcry OPPOSED to the rule change. Instead it looks like 99% of Park visitors SUPPORT the ability to carry a concealed firearm in Parks located in States that permit it.

Fred,

Thanks for your thanks. Truthfully, I do often wonder why I spend *so* much time on some of these issues.

Re the comments filed so far, I found at least two that oppose the change. But you're right, far and away the majority do seem to support concealed carry in the parks. But I'm not sure for all the right reasons. Here's one questionable comment I found:


we should be able to carry a weapon in any National forest for protection due to the fact that there are wild animals that seem to attack without being provoked. Especially when wild animals keep being added to our
parks like Bears, Wolfs, Alligators and not to mention venomous snakes.

Now, aside from the confusion between national parks and national forests, doesn't this sort of comment raise some serious concerns that some gun owners will be quick on the draw when they see a wild animal in the parks? And then there was another comment in which the author claimed every confrontation between a wild animal and a human being ended up poorly for the human. Really?

Kurt - You're right about some of these comments. Wading through some of the spelling and grammatical errors is downright painful. Their points would be much easier to perceive if they would have taken a minute to proofread their post. And it might have helped if they were trying to make some sense. Some of the comments left me asking, "What did he SAY??"

It's way too soon to call, but I suspect that the proposed rule change concerning concealed handgun carry in the Parks will go forward. If it does, will the attendance change? Will people AVOID the Parks because they're afraid they might be sharing the trail with me or some other CCW permit holder? Will people START visiting the Parks more because they will be able to bring their firearm with them LEGALLY?

I sincerely hope this rule change won't keep folks from wanting to visit the Parks. Fear is a natural thing, but unreasonable fear is unhealthy. Our media has done a good job of convincing people that guns and gun owners are bad. I honestly believe that most people are good, and that those who assume the awesome responsibility of carrying a firearm are good AND law-abiding.

There are many ways for folks to become educated and informed about firearms and concealed-carry safety. A little research can show people that they have nothing to fear from me or my CCW-permit brethren. Conversely, we are more likely to come to your aid, not just be an "eyewitness" at the investigation.

Fred,

Having played a key role in "our media" for a good part of my professional life, I take extreme exception to your comment about the media. The media does not cause a gun to go off, does not allow a gun to be in reach of youthful hands, does not get drunk or angry and resort to pulling the trigger. All these things are done by gun owners. As you said in an earlier comment, a gun is an inanimate object. It's the person behind the gun who commits the mistake ... or the crime.

Will park visitation drop off if the gun regulations are rewritten to make weapons more available in the parks? That's a good question, one that needs to be thought through extremely carefully by the folks at Interior. But I fear they are driven too much by politics to think clearly. Personally, I don't worry too greatly about it because I head to the backcountry where relatively few others do. But if I was heading to a campground, where folks sit around campfires and drink, where kids get into things when their parents aren't watching, yeah, I'd probably think twice about it.

Too, if you've read many of the comments that have been directed at me over this issue the past 2-plus years, you'd be rightfully concerned about the stability and focus of quite a few of the so-called good and law-abiding gun owners.

And what about the young adults who might have just obtained their CCW permit and head everywhere they go with their firearm? What if they're hiking down a trail, figure they're far away from civilization and rangers, and decide to take some target practice? What if they miss their target and hit a hiker coming the other way that they didn't see?

What about bluffing grizzlies? Many times they'll charge you to intimidate. Will a gun owner resort to pulling the trigger rather than taking more appropriate action and either wound or completely miss the bear and end up worse for it?

Why are ranger groups and police groups opposed to expansion of CCW regulations? Is it because they're macho organizations that want to consolidate firepower, or do they have legitimate concerns over the frightening array of loosely written CCW laws and the increasing availability of weapons?

I don't question that the majority of gun owners no doubt are responsible and conscientious. It's the minority that worry me.

Kurt -

One reason why you perhaps haven't seen so many anti-gun-in-parks comments recently is that this is an emotionally charged issue, and I'm probably not the only one who isn't commenting publicly because I don't want to be sucked into an argument/I-am-always-right-I-will-not-compromise 'discussion' with Mr. Rick and Mr. Fred.

Kurt -

These are all valid concerns. I truly hope that they are un-founded. I am an avid safety "nut" and would NOT tolerate any of the actions you speak about.

Please accept my sincerest apology. It is incredible bad taste for me to bad-mouth the media on "your" blog knowing your background as well as I do. I get terribly frustrated (as much as you, I assume) by the amazing distortions we have to put up with by people who "adjust" a story to support their agenda.

Mr./Ms Anonymous opined:

> One reason why you perhaps haven't seen so many anti-gun-in-parks comments recently is that this is an emotionally charged issue,

That's exactly the point Anonymous person. I try to deal with facts. Your side deals with emotions, feelings and niceties. Criminals rob, rape and kill. They don't give a whit about emotions, how nice you are or or how well you sing Kumbaya. They want your stuff and your daughter or wife. Maybe you. too.

Since the anti-gun crowd here basically says nothing substantive except to insult those wreckless, foolhardy, "macho" gun people they have no defense in this matter. They've all crawled back into their safe cocoons. With police protection, no doubt.

> I'm probably not the only one who isn't commenting publicly

You just did and you've simply reiterated, or alluded to, the same old farcical tripe that does nothing except mislead and perpetuate stereotypes

> I don't want to be sucked into an argument/I-am-always-right-I-will-not-compromise 'discussion' with Mr. Rick and Mr. Fred.

No compromise necessary - except folks like you need to start accepting the truth that concealed carry permit holders do not commit the crimes and are not a threat to anyone except criminals. If you have honest-to-goodness- facts that a person with a concealed carry permit has done something wrong please post that information here. I'm just as interested as you. Otherwise I'll continue to confront the disingenuous fear-mongers.

Y'know, I'm not a bitter, mean, macho or angry person. I'm just persistent and focused and I can prove my point. You can't.

Neither am I interested in converting a single anti-gun person. I don't care how you manage responsibility for you life or your loved ones. That's on your conscience. Just don't try to prevent me from doing so by perpetuating myths, fairy tales and stereotypes in the hope of curtailing my natural and Constitutional right to self-defense. Then I get testy.

Otherwise I did have a delightful, long weekend on a canoe/camping trip in the Allegheny National Forest near Brookville, PA. With guns, of course ;^) And I didn't shoot any of the bald eagles that are nested near our camp!

I am offended and insulted, and angered, by your reference to us/ME as "some fool",
We (Concealed Handgun Licensees) have a Background check performed on us; we willingly shell out hundreds of dollars to comply with all training & firearms requirements. We take carrying a concealed firearm very seriously & consider it to be just what it is - an awesome, major responsibility.
I am a Vietnam veteran & former Police Officer who has a great appreciation - now - for all life & will still willingly step in to help in the capacity of Police Officer to stop a situation that endangers a life, any life.
People like you incense me with their ignorant thinking and remarks.

P S - (insert facetious remark here - we/I can shoot better than you can spell - "wildlife is safer and can do THERE own thing" ?