Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks

Interior Department officials on Tuesday published in the Federal Register a proposed regulation that would allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons.

Moving at a politically expedient speed, Interior Department officials are proposing to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons with them.

Whereas the National Park Service has been dragging its feet on endorsing Glacier National Park's decision not to allow a railroad to use explosives to control avalanche danger, Interior moved practically at light speed in proposing the gun language. Put up for limited review today, it will formally be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, barely two months after Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne decided to open up the regulations for possible recasting.

"This is truly changing the culture of the National Park Service in literally one stroke of a pen," says Kristen Brengel of The Wilderness Society.

The proposed regulation calls for a 60-day comment period, but there was no mention of plans for public hearings on the change. Interior Department officials were not immediately available to comment on the proposal.

The highly controversial change has been opposed by seven past Park Service directors, the Association of National Park Rangers, the Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The coalition wasted no time in criticizing the proposed regulation.

"We think the proposed rule is manufactured and driven politically to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Data show that parks are among the safest places to be in this country. Moreover, we believe it will create more problems than it can possibly fix," said Bill Wade, who chairs the group's executive council. "It is likely to alter, over time, the friendly atmosphere visitors look forward to in parks, where they go to get away from the day to day pressures and influences of their everyday lives, including worry about guns.

"How many visitors want to be concerned about whether the person next to them during a ranger-guided walk, or that shares a backcountry campsite, has a concealed, loaded gun? Reliance on impulsive use of guns in the face of perceived threats or disputes, such as in campgrounds will increase the risk to visitors and employees," continued Mr. Wade. "Impulsive uses of guns in response to being startled by or by perceived threats from wildlife will increase the risks to wildlife and to visitors, such as from wounded wildlife or shots fired at wildlife, such as in campgrounds, that miss and connect with nearby campers.

"Administrative requirements related to this rule in parks will become complicated. Issues of reciprocity of authorities for guns between states will have to be sorted out. Decisions about how to keep guns out of administrative and concession buildings will involve signing, further cluttering the developed areas; and potentially even security screening. The existing regulation works just fine, and has for decades. This is a proposed rule that deserves to be shot down!

At The Wilderness Society, Ms. Brengel said the "argument for revising the regulation seemed poorly thought out and rather short."

"So, you can carry a gun as long as the state allows concealed weapons and the analogous state lands allow for possession," she said. "And this is supposed to clear up confusion? Or, is it supposed to create confusion?"

Indeed, there are a number of national parks that cross state boundaries. Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Death Valley, and the Blue Ridge Parkway come immediately to mind. The proposed regulation made no allowance for how rangers were to police the various gun laws in those parks.

While the proposed regulation said DOI officials were uncertain whether a review under the National Environmental Policy Act would be required, Ms. Brengel thought a thorough review was necessary.

"Rather than directly addressing potential harm to wildlife, the agencies didn’t even mention poaching, off-season hunting, and other possible problems with this proposal," she said. "The public deserves to know if Park Service professionals, not political appointees, think there will be impacts to cherished wildlife and hunting opportunities due to this change in the rules."

If the decision to make guns more available in national parks stands, it will be interesting to see not only how it impacts domestic visitation to the parks, but also international tourism in light of how many other countries view America's pervasive gun laws.

Somewhat curiously, in light of the building debate over how this change would impact national parks, comments on the proposed regulation are being directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose lands also would be open to concealed carry under this change.

A copy of the Federal Register notice is attached below. Comments are being directed to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: 1024-AD70; Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, Virginia, 22203.

Secretary Kempthorne's decision to consider concealed carry in national parks came in the wake of lobbying by the National Rifle Association, which got U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, to introduce legislation that would overturn the current regulations, which allow weapons to be transported through parks as long as they're broken down and stored out of easy reach.

Additionally, roughly half of the Senate's 100 members wrote to the Interior secretary asking him to reconsider the regulations.

Somewhat ironically, the current regulations were adopted by the Reagan administration. A much earlier version of the regulation was established in 1936 to prevent the poaching of wildlife, and was included in the Park Service’s first general regulations adopted after the creation of the agency in 1916.

In opposing a change, the seven former Park Service directors told Secretary Kempthorne in a letter that, "Informing visitors as they enter a park that their guns must be unloaded and stowed away puts them on notice that they are entering a special place where wildlife are protected and the environment is respected both for the visitor’s enjoyment and the enjoyment of others."

"While most gun owners are indeed law-abiding citizens, failure to comply with this minimal requirement can be a signal to rangers that something is wrong," the letter continued. "Removing that simple point of reference would seriously impair park rangers’ ability to protect people and resources, and if necessary manage crowds."

Signing the letter were former NPS directors Ronald Walker (1973-75), Gary Everhardt (1975-1977), George Hartzog (1964-1972), James Ridenour (1989-1993), Roger Kennedy (1993-1997), Robert Stanton (1997-2001), and Fran Mainella (2001-2006).

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Comments

For this, someone can find enough time away from truly important issues to assist special interests in an election stunt. Speaks loudly and succinctly about who’s the puppeteer and who’s the marionette in this debate.

Are these politicians idiots? This doesnt even make sense! What in the world do we need to carry guns for in a National Park? The world is coming to an end.

Once again people think guns and the Wild West. The people that have a concealed carry permit have higher standards than that. They have had training on the use of a firearm and the consequences of its inappropriate use. And besides, how many times have you heard of someone that has a permit using a firearm illegally. Yea that's what I thought, NONE

Appalling! But then, everything that this administration has done in its eight years of ruinous misery is consistent with this insanity. The true responsibility for this lies not with Bush, Cheney, or the NRA, but with the American public for electing, then re-electing these lunatics, and then not having the backbone or ethics to impeach them. Is this really a surprise? Shame on America - we're pathetic.

This is as bad as it gets. There is zero reason to carry a concealed weapon in a park. And the argument that it clears up confusion is ludicrous. It creates more. This is an idea that as the Coalition of NPS Retrees says deserves to be shot down.

Rick Smith

Ok Mr M, lets put you on the hotseat for once, since you think we're all over-reacting once again. Lets ask you a simple question. Do you think there are going to be people who don't give a damn about wether or not you have to have a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun and bring them into the park? YES there will be. So your argument is one sided of course. You're talking about the SMALL percentage of the population that has a consciensce and does act responsibly when it comes to firearms. Unfortunately the entire population out there doesn't fall into this category, so your defense of this bill based on the small percentage of people who actually HAVE a permit is weak. There will be twice as many people who will see this bill as an open door to bring guns into the park and won't read or care or even know about the fine print about permits. THOSE are the idiots we are worried about. If the coalition that spoke out about this bill has worries about individuals shooting off their weapons "wild west style", then isn't it reasonable to think that the rest of us who visit and play in these parks might think the same way?

No, people aren't equating firearms and a segment of American history. People are correlating questionable judgment by those who think "firearms first" as a defense against whatever it is you think you're defending yourself against. I haven't seen one item in any of these threads that questions the "preparations" gun owners say are so rigorous to obtain permits. Personally, I didn't think it so difficult. That of course is in the eye of the beholder, and it sounds like a rock-solid position from which to preach. For all the alleged gun-handling skills the permit holders possess, I am more than mildly uneasy with their eagerness to "protect me and my family", as if you would be more accessible that the rangers who you always admit a "miles away", and as if we'd be totally helpless without such aid. If only you knew......

Trained peace officers are schooled to draw weapons as a last, NOT FIRST resort to diffuse highly charged situations. For all your gun-related training, you lack the psychological training, ability to assess situations and make the proper choice in peaceful resolution of conflict. The willingness to use deadly force places you on the same platform with the "real criminals", not at all equal to those trained in managing chaotic circumstances. More firearms simply does not equate to an environment that is more sanitized, it only serves to heighten the probability of a deadly outcome. Bad guy or good guy, dead is dead. I've seen the statistics on crime in the parks and I'm not impressed. Growing up in a major metropolitan area I'm at more risk waking up every morning and driving to work than I'll EVER be while backcountry backpacking in the NPS.

Maybe the pro-gun contingent should start a letter writing campaign to Mayor Richard J. Daley in Chicago, what with all the gun-related killing of teenagers, public school students dying at the rate of 1 every week, 150 pound cougars roaming the streets, how could ANYBODY feel safe living there without a concealed carry permit?

With all due respect, as a CCW holder, I welcome the regulations. You seem to be afraid of the possibility of somebody using their gun to settle an argument. Frankly, to get a CCW permit you have to go through a background check. These are not just some willy-nilly morons carrying guns. Problems with CCW holders are few and far between. In fact if you think about it, a CCW holder has to typically go through some amount of training and must have a squeaky clean record. Why would that same person pull his gun to get a camp spot? It makes no sense. CCW holders are held up to a higher standard and would immediately lose the permit and land in jail.

For myself, I hike with my eight year old daughter. I do not take her into the NP because I cannot carry there (see I still follow the law). We hike in the national forest. I truly believe all the hoopla is for nothing and time will prove that. In any case I want protection in the case of a bear attack or human attack when hiking with my daughter. It is that simple and I should have that right.

Anon - I totally see your point of view and understand your concerns about bears and other humans, but bear with me here...

*In many of the eastern parks, such as Congaree or Acadia, the chances of you running across any animal that will attack is slim to none, so in some park units, that argument is pretty much invalid.

*In places like Great Smokies, Yellowstone, etc where there are lots of people in small spaces, people become irritated very quickly. Last summer, I was at Cades Cove in the Smokies and watched two grown men literally fight each other over a picnic table. A ranger had to be called in, and it was later found that the instigator of the mishap was drunk. Imagine if he had a concealed gun!

As long as there are drunk rednecks in our parks stirring up trouble (and they'll always be there), I don't want guns in the parks. They would make me feel unsafe and in danger.

Mike M. , No one? I beg to differ. I was standing in line at a Longs drug Store just 2 days ago and what do I hear from the (for lack of better words) IDIOT in front of me? "Ya, its cool to be able to carry a gun, we used to go back in the hills here and shoot birds and squirrels." He then showed the clerk his permit and flashed his waist with his gun. And to top it all off he said " And sometimes a couple of Mexicans just to keep things right"!!!!!!!!!!! So Mike M. You tell me, NO ONE?! This guy was a bit older than me (43). I sure don't want this IDIOT in any National Park that I would go to! Would you? I think not, if you would not mind this, I would not want you to be in the parks either.

Anon, First drinking and carrying concealed is another no-no. If you carry , you cannot drink. Although I do not know every state law, you can be certain that law is on every state book. A CCW holder WILL lose his permit and go to jail. There are drunks everywhere, even in national parks, but you are still willing to drive a car on the road even if you know there might be drunk on the road and how many people die every day from drunk drivers?

Eric, I suppose you are going to find morons everywhere. However that fella very likely broke the law. You should have called the police for brandishing. Again there will always be exceptions to the rule. How many times do you think somebody has brought in a gun illegally into a NP and you did not know it? But you still are willing to go in aren't you?

For all of you fearful of this rule, I don't think you will ever see a gun, or even know about it. It will be a non issue.

As for myself, I hope the change the rule to allow CCW holders to carry open. Why? Because frankly when hiking, it is more comfortable to carry with a thigh holder. Will I ever take a shot at wildlife? Of course not, unless that wildlife is going to make me the main course.

I have yet to hear a good reason to carry fire arm in a NP. As for being fearful, I for one am not, I don't have a reason to carry a fire arm in the NP's. It seems the ones who feel they have to carry a fire arm are the ones who are fearful. As for how many people have carried fire arms illegaly into NP's who knows? RonC, Have you illegaly carried a fire arm into a NP? When some "responsible" Moron with a gun shoots someone or an animal because of fear, or overthe use of a picnic table or a campsite. Then what? An apology? Too late. Sorry I just don't see it, it makes no sense to me. I'm not against guns, I used to hunt, I just choose not to now. So until someone comes up with a rock solid reason for this I say its nonsense. I have been charged by a bear in Montana, and treed by a bear in Minnesota, no gun, just common sense and learning the do's and don'ts while in the backcountry, millions of people do it every day in the NP's without guns. So...

Eric,
Well it is your choice to not carry. Good for you. I desire to carry, good for me. I think I implied strongly in my earlier post that I do not carry when it is illegal. I only carry when it is lawful.

Your fear, it appears is that somebody is pull the gun and shoot over a picnic table. I suppose it could happen but then if so, it will happen illegally, will it not? For all the gun free zones we have, where are the most problems....gun free zones. Virginia tech is a gun free zone. You might also note that states that have a CCW law have seen no increase in violent crimes or decreases. That is a fact. So again I believe you are fearful of a non issue.

You say you have been charged by a bear in Montana. What would you have done if you had your eight year old daughter with you? Oh yea I guess she is slower than you.....You just have to be faster than her! Also if you got that close to a bear, I would say you are quite irresponsible, and should know better, and remember bears can climb trees better than you. You were simply lucky. You also made my point.

I do find it interesting that you wanted to know if I carry illegally. Why?

From the Brady Campaign web site:

In many states, statutory requirements are minimal and do not go much beyond the Federal Brady Law requirements for purchasing firearms – meaning that some people get CCW permits despite criminal convictions for violent or drug-related misdemeanors. Training requirements are extremely lax in many states or do not even require a licensee to prove that he or she knows how to load, fire, or store a firearm.

Bear spray is more effective than guns:

http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/pepper-spray-viable-alternative-guns-deterring-bears-15736.html

Hey NoGunsInParks, I carry bear spray!

Bear spray says it all! If you miss your shot buddy with a hand gun against a full charging bear...you're mince-meat! At least with bear spray you don't shoot your buddy by mistake in a panic attack.

RonC, Why get personal? I don't have an 8 year old daughter, I do have one on the way and I would not take her where I was, An 8 year old probably would not be able to. The picnic table remark was from another persons post, I used as an exagerated example. why am I curious about you carrying in a NP? Because you stated earlier "How many times do you think somebody has brought in a gun illegaly into a NP and you did not know it?" What was I thinking, who would admit it anyway? Right? Let's just agree to disagree and keep it civil, you don't know me and I don't know you. If you really think I would run past my daughter(to be) to save myself, well, you are just grasping for some way to argue about this. I don't think I have taken any personal shot's at you, if I have I apologize, that is not what this is about. It is about expressing how each person feels about the situation. I don't make up stories about my experiences, I don't need to impress you or anyone else. I enjoy this forum and the comments made by the people here. I think we all may learn something, YES even you and I from these discussions as long as they don't get personal and nasty. I too carried Bear spray and yes I was lucky it worked, as for the tree, I was young and inexperienced at the time. We all have our opinions and that is why we are here.

Eric,
I was not trying to ge personal. My attempt at a little humor I guess did not come across well and for that I apologize (You have heard that bear joke right?).

We can certainly agree to disagree but if it is legal to hike with a sidearm, then I will. If it required to be concealed, then nobody will ever see it. That being said, when I hike "with the guys", I am less likely to carry. With my family, then very likely. Will I ever need it? 99.9% says I will never evetr need it. We all know that. But the for the 0.1% chance I would rather have the sidearm than not. I have never in my life needed it and hope I never do. The implications are huge.

I believe that most people who will carry will do so on the backcountry. That is where I would like to have the option. As for a bad guy havaing a gun in the backcountry, remember they are a bad-buy and they do not care. They will have them regardless. The law abiding people are the ones that will not carry if illegal and are then defenselss. As for bears and such. Well they don't care I guess. They are usually afraid of us, unless it is a momma bear.

Here is the original petition....

http://www.vcdl.org/pdf/VCDLPRM_010408.pdf

Thanks RonC, It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds, above all have fun and enjoy the wonders of our beautiful National Parks as I will continue to do no matter what happens!

Eric,
I will! It will be Olympic National Park this summer (err if the snow ever melts!). What an awesome place.
I actually saw a black bear two years ago. I was disapointed in the picture (I prefer shooting wildlife with a camera for sure.) But he was just too far away.

One carries a gun in a park for the same reason one carries it anywhere else . To protect yourself and loved ones. not just to kill something.......DUH

The point has been made that a gun probably won't protect me from a bear. I don't carry because of the bears. I carry for the same reason John Steadham carries: to protect myself and my loved ones. My primary concern is to encounter a snake, either the kind that slither, or the kind on two legs.

RonC
I love ONP also.
I see bear (up close even) about every backpack.
Try the east side tree line meadows late summer during blueberry time.
Could be early fall this year (?)
I'll be out there for sure!

IMHO carrying a weapon for fear of bear and other critters,
into Our National Parks in the lower 48 is just silly.
HYOH!

For those who argue that people who hold a permit for concealed carry are "well-trained in the use of a gun," check this article out:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4191/is_20031009/ai_n10028946

I'd hate to meet any of those folks carrying a gun in the Everglades!

I support the right to carry a firearm. Criminals have guns wether legal or not. If there was to be an assault on me, I would want the best tool available to protect my life. Wether the assailant has a gun, knife or just a big club, if my life is in danger, I have the right to keep and bear a firearm as granted by the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, if my life is in danger. (Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about). People who want to argue that it 's not the individuals right, but a militia, please recall that there were indians scalping people and killing families in 1776 (Again, google 1776 if you don't know it's relevance) just as cereal killers and psychos are doing today. With all the crazy people shooting up public places and cereal killers taking advantage of the average citizen, it would be even easier for them to operate in the middle of nowhere. How many people per year go into national parks and turn up missing? Unfortunately, history has proven that humans are savage and no matter how safe one might feel with our laws, unless the police are there to enforce them, human savagery and lack of compassion always shows it's ugly head. If you're a lwa abiding citizen, carry a policeman in your pocket, carry a gun.

I would rather need a gun in a park, than have to need a crime scene investigator. So for prevention of murder, yes guns are needed in parks.

Sorry, but your argument just doesn't hold water. The people that carry legally should be able to carry legally in any non-secure location. The people that you are talking about are ALREADY carrying ILLEGALLY in the parks. Are you really so artless as to believe that a person who is already committing a crime (by carrying a concealed firearm without a CHL) would, out of some nebulous sense of honor, voluntarily stop their illegal carry simply because they are entering the sanctity of a National Park???? Of course they won't. That's why they are called criminals! Also, just for your eddification......http://www.hkshooter.net/nps/crime.html. A few NPS reports on crimes already going on in our National Parks. Lastly, I bet you didn't know that according to the Ranger branch of the FOP, a NP Ranger is 12x more likely to be confronted violently than and FBI agent!......3x more than the next most endangered federal officer, a DEA agent! It kind of settles in a little when you realize that those nice friendly Rangers in their Smokey Bear hats have the biggest bullseye painted on them of ANY Federal LEO.

I'm there with you on the concealed carry permit in Chicago. There would be less shooting and armed robberies if there was a good chance the victim was carrying. The offender would think twice about pulling a gun on someone if he knows there is a good chance he will get shot. Besides, look at how well dictator Daley's law of no registered handguns in Chicago has done. Shootings and shooting related homicides are up!

I had my family and myself threatened in a Wilderness campsite on the Jacks Fork River in Southern Missouri by a bunch of drunk fools at 2 am. They ran their pick-up just a few feet from the tent with thier brights on us, honking shouting obscenities and throwing beer cans at our tent. I have a CCW permit and I kept my gun locked in a case unloaded just as the park rules require. In my tent was two 15 year old girls, my ten year old and my wife. When I stepped out of the tent to confront these fools, I prayed that these were just drunk teen agers. They pulled out went I stepped out of the tent, but they came back hours latter to run through the camp again spinning their tires and shouting and honking at us. The nearest ranger was about 25 miles away and there is no cell phone service in that deep valley. I am 56 years old and I have never been faced with this sort of behavior in these parks. What if they had wanted to fight me? Would my kids have been raped? Might I have been beated unconscious? Put your self in that situation and ask yourself what you would have done. My wife and I are scout leaders and our kids are scouts. I have never seen the insides of a police station. I have 10 years in the military and have had more firearms training than most rangers in these parks. My concealed carry permit required a complete FBI background check. I am stunned by the attitudes of those who would deny me from defending myself in these remote places.

You think this sort of thing will never happen to you. Put yourself in my shoes and think about this issue one more time.

@Avid Family Canoeist: Which part did happen and which was your fear? Let us tell that apart. The guys in question were loud, rowdy, obnoxious and cost you and your family some sleep. What did not happen? They did not attack, maim, rape, pilfer, kill or whatever. You wrote: "What if they had wanted to fight me?" - What if questions are not about reality but about perception and in this case about fear.

National Parks and the back country as a whole are safe, as safe as they have always been. What changed is the perception of danger. This nation lives on fear - "what if" has become an important question. My idea is to get over it. Don't worry about fights in the back country, worry about accidents while driving to the parks.

I have a couple of comments.

Lets start with there are HEAVILY armed folks conducting illegal activities in National Parks, well enough armed that the Park Rangers are out gunned. Then we can add bears and cougars, etc. I can't carry a Park Ranger with me(they're heavy) and I don't expect a person security detail to ensure my safety. This is America, we have the right and obligation to protect and defend ourselves, not to depend on others to do so.

I am amazed at how out of touch we have become with our Constitutional Rights. Saddly, in one generation we have quietly gone from a society in which owning or possessing a firearm was "non-event", due to the fact that it is a Right. Now there is this position that firearms need to be heavily regulated. In the hands of responsible individuals firearms are a "non-event" as they should be. Sensational journalism has turned an inanimate object into a demon in our society, guns do exactly what they were designed to do, go bang when you pull the trigger. People responsibly use firearms millions of times a year and between 750k and 2million times a year to defend their lives, we don't see these facts in the press.

The worry and fears of those who are against people carrying in National Parks are those that fear the irresponsible gun owner. Did you know that concealed carry holders are fingerprinted, background checked and certified to carry? People that go this far to excercise a Right are not who/what need to be feared.

Thank you for your time,
Scotty
Though I personally think this does not go far enough, I think it's a good start.

"Guns in the Parks. Do We Need Them?"
Not in the least...
As a kid, you could find me and my cousin walking down the road with our rifles as long as we were tall.
As a teen there was a rifle, shotgun and fishing pole on the rack in the inside back window of my truck.
I was in the military for four years as a young adult.
I spent 17 years exploring the forests, rivers, volcanoes and jungles of Mexico and Central / South America, South East Asia and Australia. I have spent more time than most folks backpacking in designated Wilderness and National Parks across the western half of America. Where I have never carried nor have encountered any situation where I felt a need for a weapon.
While in population, in the USA I have noticed as MRC (not verified) said, a growing perception of danger, a fear of strangers, Mother Nature and the world in general.
IMHO this fear of danger is an unwarranted, typically trite defense for the reversal of Our National Park rules.
Anyway the sun is out, just saw a eagle circle over head, a northern flicker joined me for coffee this morning, deer, raccoon and bear are my closest neighbors. think I'll go out for a visit.

Random Walker,

Please let me start by saying you are well spoken and I respect your opinion. This is the healthy banter that gets us to look at all sides of the issues.

Maybe you are right, you don't need guns in the Parks. Respectfully, Let me ask you this, because you don't want/need guns in the Parks and you are comfortable without them, should that comfort level extend to the Rights of others? I thnk not. The gun owners that are seeking entry into the Parks make a great point. These folks are upstanding citizens, they are fingerprinted, background checked and certified to carry. Perception of danger and fear I believe is a bit inflamatory, think of it from the perspective of preparedness. Would you go into the woods unprepared? Of course not. Also, your version of prepared is not the same as that of others and it shouldn't be, it's part of the American way. Though not having a firearm for self protection and that of loved ones is your Right and an acceptable risk for yourself, I do not think those risks need be imposed on others or their Rights.

Scotty

I don't understand why I should "need" to carry a concealed handgun into a park. Why do my second amendment rights disappear when I enter a park? Anywhere that I go is a place that people with evil intent may also go, so why is there this illusion that NP's are completely safe? Hikers go missing and are found murdered every year. Sure, the odds are that I will not need a gun, but why restrict me from having one? Also, if parks are so safe, why do rangers carry pistols? If there is any reason for a ranger to have a pistol I'll bet it is a legitimate reason for me to have one too.

The NRA sure knows when to pile on a blog! I guess the gun craze issue will be with us until the NRA gets everything it wants...lock, stock and barrel!

There are pros/cons to both sides of this issue, but the fact remains that guns will be carried reguardless of the outcome of this issue. (just the honest people are the ones that lose). This is AMERICA, what happened to our rights that our nation was built on? They are being stripped away by those who want to control everything. There is a name for that.......Communism!!!!

The NPS will not have the final say on this. The Supreme Court will. The recent Heller decision said that a complete ban on firearms can be a violation of the Second Amendment.

Anon-
In response to your comment.....
Since when does an American who wants to enjoy the parks get labeled the "NRA"? Ignorant remarks aimed to belittle people only show ignorance the lack of any ground to stand on. In reality people who want to defend themselves/family and carry concealed pose no threat to you or any other law abiding citizen. The only ones in danger are agressive predators, whether they are 2 or 4 legged. This is not an NRA issue it's a safety issue.

Yeah Scotty, tell me what's the NRA's masterplan for this country? It first starts with fear mongering! Besides Scotty, this isn't a subject that I wish to dwell on, give credence or provide propaganda flak for the NRA. It is an NRA issue! Simply because it touches the very heart of the subject that's hell bent on fear mongering. GUNS OUT OF THE PARKS!

This is one topic that can be argued over for ever. There will always be people who don't believe in guns as well as people that do. There will always be people that follow the rules and those that don't. As I stated earlier, you will always have guns in the park, because the dishonest people don't care about the law, and will continue to carry them into the park. (as they have done for years) It is ashame that the world has come this, but it has, and people need to take their blinders off their eyes and see reality. Just one question....do you REALLY think that by keeping honest people from having a gun in the park is going to keep guns out of the park? I will leave this issue alone, I have stated my peace, and did not intend to step on any toes. If I had upset anyone, then I am sorry. These were just my thoughts on the issue. (right or wrong).

Anon -
In response to your comments I must respectfully submit to you sir that this is not an NRA issue. It is a freedom and liberty issue. The NRA's vision and masterplan, is not of any concern in this issue. People, all people, should have the freedom and liberty to do as they please as long as no harm comes to others. If a person is background checked, fingerprinted and certified by the FBI, State Police and Local Sheriff and licensed as a good guy to carry a concealed firearm, why should they have their rights denied? The only fears being portrayed here are by yourself. Our freedoms and liberties need not be eroded by baseless fear.

Scotty, and all due respect to you as well! The NRA does have a hidden agenda that weasels right into the National Parks. Why be dumb about it and why then would seven past National Park Directors oppose the conceal weapons legislation? I have a gut feeling, that those who are in favor of carrying conceal handguns (weapons) into the National Parks have some affiliation with the NRA. Just a profound thought. I have seen enough gun violence in my lifetime, as former surgical tech, and as a former government park employee. I've witness a young police officer gun down in the line of duty (and murdered) in a botched up armed robbery case. Had a very close family friend of mine shot in the chest by his brother (at close range) and paralyzed from the waist down. I have seen gun violence from all spectrums of society with all types of personalities involved in this deadly mayhem...sane and insane! What I've seen from my own true experiences with the gun issues across the board, and I honestly can say this, I truly believe that gun violence will increase into the National Parks...if concealed handguns are allowed into the National Parks. No doubt about it and regardless how you look at the safety issue.

Scotty, in many of your arguments you're absolutely correct. The real point of contention seems to center around each individual's definition of the term "rights". Where do one person's rights terminate and how far do an individual's liberties extend? Many of us gun owners are responsible in firearms management. It is also an unfortunate fact that many are also less than responsible, which is how hundreds of children and spouses are killed and injured each year in their own homes, with legally owned/ registered weapons. But insofar as a rights issue is concerned, consider these circumstances:

A woman has been legally granted the "right to choose" whether or not to carry a life through a full-term pregnancy. But the life she chooses to discard, which by any and all definitions is a living entity seems to have no voice, either in the courts or with its "owner" / caretaker. An abortion is granted for whatever reason the mother deems adequate and neither the instrument of the procedure, the physician, nor the person who contracted the "hit", the mother, stand any prospect of retribution, at least in this world. HOWEVER, if during the course of a "criminal act", such as robbery, drunken driving, arson etc., a mother loses her child, the person responsible for causing the loss of life is charged with murder, two counts if both mother and child die. Why is the unborn's life weighed more heavily in that circumstance, even if the mother was intending to abort the pregnancy at some future juncture? Her decision is premeditated, which in legal terms shows intent to cause harm, but neither the doctor nor she cannot be charged with any criminal wrongdoing. In the other instance the death is accidental, but charges are brought as though there was intent on the part of the person causing the loss of life. Supreme example of the term “double standard” in my opinion.

In many states, smoking indoors has been banned in public places, such as restaurants and bars, casinos, sporting events, airports, washrooms, rental cars and many other places regularly traversed by the general public who wish not to be exposed to the inconvenience of cigarette smoke. In most cases, one cannot even smoke within a given distance from the entrance to a public facility, generally designated between 15 and 100' depending on the municipality. All well and good as defined. HOWEVER, in some states, if a person is on their own property, say in a garage, on a deck or patio, or standing next to the barbecue in their OWN yard, and their cigarette or cigar or pipe smoke is carried by the wind into their neighbor's yard, the neighbor can call the police and have the offender issued a citation, and a "cease and desist" order.

I'm not making a personal case for any of these circumstances, but my point is, how and where is the line drawn for where a person's rights terminate? It's one person's right to enjoy the freedom of carrying a gun, but it's just as much another person's right to wish not to be exposed to undue chances of harm from stray gunshots. Ask the victims of gang-related drive-by shootings who have lost friends and family members who just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, which has even included being in ones own bed, sleeping. When is your behavior considered encroaching on the liberties of another? Some people are notoriously thin-skinned and demand maximum "personal space", which can get outright ridiculous at times, while others are more liberal in their "let's all try and get along" mentality. This issue polarizes the community, and unfortunately for all of us, neither side seems to be able to negotiate a reasonable middle ground. It's the "all or nothing, with all being the only acceptable compromise" attitude that tends to inflame the anti-gun proponents. That blame does indeed lie at the feet of the NRA, who seem to have the childish and completely unacceptable attitude of "any gun I want I can have", be it fully automatic, assault-style, rocket launcher, or pea shooter. There is no just cause for that type or armament EXCEPT by those who are active in military service, and no justification for personal usage of such weapons by the general public under ANY circumstance can ever be deemed acceptable. But that's the position they argue from, which is why so many of us, even gun owners, would prefer they point and shoot using their tonsils as a target. More and larger caliber guns simply does not equate to a safer society. If that were indeed the case we would be among the safest societies on planet Earth, with over 90 guns registered per 100 citizens in this nation, and Lord only knows how many unregistered weapons floating around. It's not the number of guns on the streets or in public places that are carried; it's the number of responsible people in society as a whole that's the root of the real issue.

Lone Hiker, excellent points and your arguments are well structured. It's always a pleasure to read your blogs.

One last item that requires clarification---

I'm there with you on the concealed carry permit in Chicago. There would be less shooting and armed robberies if there was a good chance the victim was carrying. The offender would think twice about pulling a gun on someone if he knows there is a good chance he will get shot. Besides, look at how well dictator Daley's law of no registered handguns in Chicago has done. Shootings and shooting related homicides are up!

Crime statistics published for the City of Chicago will verify that the overall crime rate, rates pertaining to violent crime and the murder rate for the city have been in a steady decline for well over a decade. It is unfortunate that the publicity of gang-related shootings and drive-by shootings are what garner the headlines. Some of this is directly related to the general public's bloodlust, but more to the point is that these incidents make good lead stories and headlines when the victims of these gun-toting idiots are innocent bystanders, and more specifically, innocent, non-gang member neighborhood children, whose only "crime" was being trapped living in an urban war zone. Let's not get all carried away with the lame old notion that "if the shooter knew the victim was carrying they would have thought twice or never pulled their weapon out in the first place". That statement is just pure nonsense, and has no basis in the reality of the urban gang mentality. These morons know full well that other gang members are packin'. If you, in your heart of hearts, honestly believe that the fear of immediate retribution, or future retaliation for that matter, serves as even the slightest deterent in preventing these incidents, then you must be living in the same La-La Land that others believe I inhabit.

That reminds me of what a very close old friend exclaimed when he was told he would then be shot back at,
"Finally, things are gettin' interesting!"

Some years ago, while fishing at a local lake that is in an "out of the way" rural area adjoining the city I live in, I was accosted by a group of drunken teenagers. These five punks had knives and clubs. If it had just been me, I might not have been so annoyed, or I might have just run away. However, I had my wife, 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son with me. After locking my family in our pickup, I stood there, confronting these hooligans, with just my bare hands. Luckily, a park ranger (armed) drove by and forced them away.

I had never felt the need for a gun before that day, but as soon as concealed carry was permitted in my state, I took the necessary classes to obtain one. I , to this day, do not routinely carry a gun, even though I am legally able. I only carry one when I am away from the mainstream of my urban life.

It is my opinion that those who feel threatened by a person carrying a handgun legally are totallly lacking the understanding of many of us who have a concern of the person carrying a weapon illegally, or with antisocial intent. You have nothing to fear from me unless you are threatening me or my loved ones. I will not accidentally shoot anyone, because I do not "play" with my tool for self-defense. I go to great lengths to make sure my weapon is both protected from accidental handling by someone else, and locked and in a safe posture at all times. Everyone of the people, that I know, who has a legal permit to carry shows the same concern for safety. We know only too well how quickly we could be on the wrong side of the law by misusing this privilege.

Those people who are most vocally against the legal carrying of handguns are so incrediblly insensitive to the realities of our world, it staggers me. I am not a violent or "John Wayne" type, but I do not feel I should be forced to subject myself to someone who has no social conscience. We are supposed to be living in a free country. How free are we when we must fear for our safety when just going fishing?

If you don't like guns, don't buy one and stay away from people who have them, if you know. Don't automatically assume that you are in danger because a responsible gun owner has one in your vicinity. You are probably safer.

Thanks Anonymous. I wish I had your skill with words. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said here. See you in the Parks.