You don't need a gun to enjoy a national park


When I was 11 years old, I papered the walls of my bedroom with pages from gun catalogs. It was an attempt to convince my father that I really wanted a gun. He eventually gave in when I was 12 or 13, and I've owned guns ever since, even carrying one or more in the course of my job duties.

I love the look, the feel, the color and the precision of guns. I love the light coat of oil, the wood grain of a well-made stock. I have two old firearms decorating the walls of my den and a loaded handgun in my nightstand. And now I can carry a gun into a national park.

But I won't.

I won't, because I think Ronald Reagan had the right idea in 1983, when he signed into law a rule requiring everyone who entered a national park to disassemble and unload all guns and keep them out of reach. This gun-loving, conservative Republican president created a law restricting gun use that has worked -- and worked well -- for 26 years.

That hasn't stopped the National Rifle Association from trying to change that law. And now it has succeeded in Congress and the White House, thanks to a rider tacked onto a law addressing credit card reform. It's hard to know why seemingly rational politicians would support allowing loaded weapons into our parks and wildlife refuges, starting next year. Are there more ferocious animals to shoot nowadays? Has street crime risen in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite? Are tourists feeling so unsafe in the great outdoors that they're clamoring for the right to tote arms in their RVs and handguns on their hips? If so, I haven't heard about it.

I've either worked in or visited most of the country's Western parks, and so far I've always felt pretty safe. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the amendment's sponsor, insisted that tourists faced the possibility of death or serious injury from dangerous campers or wild animals. Clearly, the senator has never visited many national parks, or perhaps he has spent too much time reading Where the Wild Things Are to his children. Statistically, you're far more likely to be killed by your neighbor then you are by a wild animal -- which is why I have a gun in my bedroom but not in my backpack.

Let's be honest: This has never been about a need for guns in national parks to ward off criminals, bears or big cats. This is all about the NRA wanting to flex its political muscle.

The National Rifle Association and its adherents say they're convinced that President Obama wants to pry their hands away from their firearms. This fervent belief, stoked by talk radio and the Web, has resulted in folks flocking to gun stores around the nation to buy weapons and ammunition, even though no one in the Obama administration has ever suggested placing a moratorium on gun ownership.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, R-Ariz., who chairs the national parks subcommittee, opposed the gun measure but said that the White House wanted to get the credit card bill approved, no matter what. That urgency, combined with the NRA's clout, was impossible to overcome. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat, put it succinctly: "The NRA is basically taking over the House and Senate," she said.

Unhappy campers or rabid animals don't scare me in national parks, but the pervasive influence of the NRA sure does. Gun advocates have become nothing more than a narrowly focused special interest group -- one that is well financed, increasingly powerful, and a master at the art of manipulating public opinion. They have scared the pants off our public officials who will remain afraid to buck them until voters let them know that the NRA doesn't represent them.

It's time the people we elected showed some spunk and talked common sense about guns -- about where they are appropriate and where they are not. So far, there's been no need to tote guns into our national parks, and we don't need families to start arming themselves now. As one tourist recently told the New York Times, bringing a gun into Rocky Mountain National Park is about as smart as lugging in a bowling ball: "You could do it, but why would you?"

Wayne Hare is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News. He works as a backcountry ranger for the Bureau of Land Management in western Colorado. The views he expresses are his own.

Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 02:41 PM
Are you so arrogant that you would also tell people that they don't "need" a gun at the grocery store or the shopping mall or any of the other thousands of places that law-abiding citizens legally carry handguns every single day? It's one thing to state your opinion; something else entirely to legislate defenseless on others. There are places in national parks where rangers and police are hours, if not days away. Besides, this is really more of a states rights issue than one of gun control. Although I would prefer the second amendment to apply everywhere, state control over lands within their border is better than some bureaucrat sitting at a desk making decisions for the whole nation.
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 04:20 PM
First, Ben, by definition, national parks are NATIONAL land, not state land. No states rights issue here, other than in a mind probably addled by the NRA already.

Second, STATE governments already "legislate defenselessness," to use your crazy phrase.

Know where there's plenty, plenty of criminals? The courthouse. Know where you can't bring guns? The courthouse.

Beyond that, enough people get drunk in national parks campgrounds, I sure don't want them doing so with guns in their hands.

So, no, I don't want YOU or the NRA legislating "unsafetyness" in National Parks. Take a hike, buddy -- just not with a gun in a National Park.
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 04:53 PM
The last time I went camping in Death Valley, a park ranger came to my car and essentially searched a lot of it without a warrant (by demanding that I unpack the ice chest and several bags of groceries so I could account for every one of the 12 cans of beer that had come in the flattened box he spotted under my knapsack. Don't know what would have happened if I had already consumed one.)
This officer wore a SWAT vest-- not an ordinary under-the-shirt Kevlar vest -- and had his hand on his holstered automatic pistol the entire time he was questioning me, about 15 or 20 minutes. There was another officer there too, wearing an ordinary Kevlar vest and carrying a pistol.
When Officer Junior and his like-minded brethren in other parks think it's safe to wear ordinary police garb and avoid fondling deadly weapons while questioning picknickers, then I might think it's safe for me to camp unarmed in Death Valley National Park.
Of course, I won't be allowed to carry a gun into California's National parks anyway. Or Washington, D.C.'s, or those in several other states. I believe the new federal law permits one to carry firearms into parks only in accordance with local law. I don't believe California recognizes any other state's concealed weapon permits, and issues almost none in its most populous counties, so few Californians and no visitors from other states would be allowed to carry concealed weapons in any National Park in California.
In D.C. it has been illegal for ordinary folks to carry pistols for a generation, yet it's supposed to be the most dangerous assignment for a park ranger, which shows how well that rule works.
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 11:07 PM
I wonder what you were saying or doing that led those rangers to be so cautious about you. Smart mouth maybe?
Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 09:07 AM
Yeah, if you'd had a gun, that ranger would have been nicer. Do you really believe that?

Rangers I've dealt with were remarkably free of the paranoid, cop-mentality we see so much. While there might be exceptions, I suspect it's your shaved head, tattoos, and/or attitude that added to the empty beer pack if they felt the need to search.
Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 12:38 PM
Gary Bear misses the point, perhaps intentionally. The point is not that having my own gun would have made Officer Junior more polite. I expect nothing would make him more polite except firing him, which is what the park service should do but probably hasn't.

The real point is that if a ranger thinks Death Valley is so dangerous he must wear SWAT gear on routine patrol, it possibly is dangerous and a place where a camper would be prudent to be armed.

Nobody brought any attitude to invite Officer Junior's ready-to-shoot stance. The party consisted of three men square as honest dice. One banker, one photographer, one writer; two of the three teetotalers; two of of us elders in our respective churches; driving conventional SUVs without gun racks or bumper stickers. I was about 60 then, the others over 50. No shaved heads, no tattoos, no attitude. Nor would Officer Junior have seen the empty beer pack without initiating a search in the first place, for no probable cause I could see or that he articulated. The banker, who is a remarkably pleasant and polite Mormon, had greeted the first officer on the scene with his usual smile and answered every question truthfully and in a straightforward manner. The questions were about where we were going (the Racetrack Dry Lake), what we were going to do there (camp and take pictures), were we aware that we were not allowed to drive on the dry lake itself (Yes, aware, and wouldn't have done it anyway because it could have ruined what we were photographing), etc.

Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 04:44 PM
Whatever happened to the Sheriff Andy Taylor school of policing? This Ranger sounds like he was not cut out to be in a position of authority. Fortunately, most Rangers are "remarkably free of the paranoid, cop-mentality" but this guy obviously is not, perhaps he can leave the Park Service and land a job in Mall Security. As pertains to guns in Parks, or anywhere else for that matter. I believe that if you don't like them, you shouldn't have one. If you do need a gun, then treat it with the respect it deserves. It is probably a good suggestion to not imbibe while armed. Alchohol combined with firearms is dangerous since it lowers both inhibitions and rationality, it tends to aggravate and escalate conflicts leading to more shootings (accidental or not). A gun however, is a tool that is only dangerous if handled carelessly or with malicious intent. Short of that, I see no reason to force people to disarm to enter an area where they may need protection from dangerous humans or animals. I don't own a gun, and haven't shot one in over 25 years. That is my choice, but I don't expect everyone else to be like me . They are free to make up their own minds, and to take responsibility for their own choices.
Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 11:44 PM
Sorry for what happened to you, A.D., and yes, since more and more NPS employees have been dedicated police officers, it has been troubling at times. In essence, you are getting some of the folks who at one time would have been city cops or sheriff's deputies. (At Big Bend, they can send multiple officers down to the hot springs to see if people either have alcohol there or are swimming nude, but can't brushhog trails frequently enough.)

That said, packing a gun in DV, in your case, would have done nothing different.

That said No. 2, many of the NPs and NMs on the western side of the Sierras DO have crime issues, mainly with professional, big-time marijuana growers. That means that, with the need for increased police activity/staff within the NPS, you get guys like the "do you know who I am" in DV. But, you carrying a gun **ain't gonna change that.**
Anonymous says:
Jun 04, 2009 08:28 AM
Here's a link to an article the Christian Science Monitor did in 2005 about how understaffed National Parks are and where the greatest number of incidences occur, with those being in the urban National Park areas. Before we start conflating more guns in Parks with being more safe, perhaps we'll see an uptick of NPP officers and Rangers in our parks that we didn't see under the Bush administration.
Anonymous says:
Jun 04, 2009 08:23 AM
Having lived in the DC area for 8 years and going to the national parks and forests in DC, VA and MD. Never once did I feel threatened by packs of wild animals or criminal gangs ala 'The Warriors' chasing me down on the hiking trail to hold me at gun point to take my water bottle.

And you're statement about the DC park ranger being the most dangerous is a skewing of actual facts. The nebulous areas that National Park Police patrol with many venues in urban environments and even the GW parkway means NPP officers are making traffic stops or pulling drunk drivers in and around the National Mall.

The position people take that they're defenseless all the time seems to stem from two consistent factors...some form of paranoia fed by low self-esteem or by not knowing how to read the landscape they are in and act appropriately.

The majority of NPP incidences involve a variety of park idiots, poachers, and drunk campers than drug dealers (the current situation along the border, not withstanding.) What makes you think increasing guns inside a national park would reduces those types of incidences? If anything, the very issues one faces in the city or suburb would, I think, only increase in the rate of incidences at National Parks amongst and between the NPP, you, me and those other law-abiding, but poor decision-making citizens than reducing the perceived threat one might have in National Parks.
Anonymous says:
Jun 13, 2009 10:17 PM
As a National Park Service employee I concur with the sentiments of Steve regarding Ben's ignorant perspective. Our rangers already are overloaded with dangerous situations which would certainly be exacerbated by gun toting morons. My guess is Ben lives no where near Alaska which is the only place where one could justify having a gun in a national park. So load up your peashooter jackass and I'll sock you square in the jaw when I see you.
Anonymous says:
Jul 22, 2009 12:20 PM
Some of you are amazingly stupid. There are illegal Mexican drug cartels operating marijuana grow operations in our national parks. That's a fact...look it up! These people have been known to protect their crops with violence. To top it off, mountain lions have been attacking people with more and more frequency. If I choose to protect myself from these possible threats, then I should (DO) have that right to. If you don't then don't; that's your choice.

You liberals are going to push this country into a civil war with your un-American perspectives. We have gun rights guaranteed by the constitution. Stop trying to take them from us. If you don't like it, get the hell out of this country. These liberals have emasculated themselves and now they want to emasculate the rest of us in this great nation. I for one am tired of it.

Maybe you think making guns illegal will keep you safe? Wrong! Just look at Mexico. Guns are illegal and the drug cartels are fighting the government openly with guns that they aren't legally allowed to have. To top it off, the honest Mexican citizens are too afraid to fight back. Why?, because they are disarmed. You can't make criminals obey laws. That's why they are criminals. Laws only stop law abiding people. How is this not logical to you people?
Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 08:58 AM

This is NOT a second amendment issue. Read the second amendment! The 1983 regulation does not restrict your second amendment right.
Anonymous says:
Oct 01, 2009 09:33 PM
No, this isn't a "states rights issue" it is a RIGHTS issue period. NO MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL ME THAT I CAN OR CANNOT DO SOMETHING that would harm no one. For some man to tell me I can't carry a firearm to protect myself against animals or predatory humans is plain BULL and he/she doesn't have the right. If I go into a park, I'll carry and that's that. If someone tries to search me, I'll deal with it then. Who do these arrogant SOBs think they are anyhow? The guy that wrote this article needs to get his head out of his REAR.
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 05:19 PM
The author states that the real issue is about the NRA flexing its political muscle. I disagree. The issue is my right to choose as to whether or not I want, or don't want, to carry a gun where I please. It's about my personal rights, not your political idealogical whims, or even that of the NRA.
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 05:23 PM
 I'm always amazed by the gun banner liberals that preface their comments with the claim that they are gun owners and therefor by implication are in favor of gun rights, just before they lay out their specious reasoning based on their failure to know the answers to the questions they ask. Yes, Wayne, there are more ferocious animals to shoot out there, and they have an increasingly nasty habit of attacking and killing folks lately. Yes, Wayne, street type crime (like rape and murder) is increasing in the national parks. You give yourself away when you say it's just about the NRA flexing it's muscles and then use the giveaway phrase you AHRA masqueraders like to use: "common sense". Actually, it's really about The U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees, among those is the freedom to keep and bear arms for self defense against ferocious wild animals, your next door neighbor, and ultimately, if necessary, tyrants like you who would deprive Americans of those rights.
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 11:12 PM
Well, then people ought to be sure they carry the necessary caliber to take down that ferocious animal preying on their family. I can't see the usefulness of a 9mm, .380, .357., .40, 10mm, etc., against some kind of bear or mountain lion. It'll fight right through the pain. How about just keeping a clean campsite?
Anonymous says:
Jul 22, 2009 12:49 PM
Andrew, you must not shoot guns much. You could easily kill a mountain lion with a .357 and many of those other calibers you mentioned. As far as a bear is concerned, I wouldn't want to risk using any of those you listed, but if its that or nothing... well I'd rather have something, but in the real world, I get to choice which caliber to take with me!

Does anyone else think liberalism is a mental illness?

Take a look at a bear killed with a hand gun:

Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 05:54 PM
So why is everyone with a gun portrayed as a ruffian or buffoon?

Are you all afraid every time you see a cop? They do have guns you know and are known to shoot people.

I don't know how it is where you are but where I am alcohol is forbidden while carrying.

And if your worrying about people ignoring that, what makes you think the old park rules worked to prevent guns? Criminals are know to just ignore the Law.

You think laws prevent things...tell me where crack cocaine is legal, now tell me where it is not available even though the war on drugs is how long and how much money. Or perhaps you would like to spin the yarn on how multi billion dollar drug cartels buy guns one at a time in Texas gun stores. And how a new law will make them all go away.

Our state posts the crimes of people with concealed carry permits, not very exciting reading.

I know people who "feel" legal carry just isn't right. They are the ones who have a "couple" drinks and think nothing of driving home.

CPL holders won't do that.

Here in Michigan we heard the same old BS when carry was allowed in State parks. The problems, none. So now our national parks in Michigan will fall under the same laws as our State parks. Wow consistency what a problem that will be.

When it comes to my Second Amendment rights I don't care how it makes you "feel".

Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 06:21 PM
Relax, folks. Those of us who will carry concealed weapons in national parks are the same people who carry them all the time wherever we go and can legally carry them, on city streets, in grocery stores, in restaurants, in cars, and while hiking or biking or mowing our lawns. We are all around you all the time in most states.

We've had extensive background checks and, in most states, been educated regarding our responsibilities to ourselves and others, with emphasis on the overriding need for safe handling and storage of our defensive weapons. Legally carried guns in parks are not a big deal, no more than they are anywhere else.

People carrying legally are not a problem anywhere, and they are often the only antidote to those who carry guns illegally with criminal intent.
Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 08:05 AM
I'm sorry you carry your gun "while hiking or biking or mowing your lawns". Um, what? I'm sorry its 2009 NOT the wild west. I'd love to see where you stick that gun when biking, your paranoia at the world around you simply astonishes me.

What part of poaching do you not understand? This isn't about your own personal safety only. This is about legal gun owners who have crap intentions heading into protected wildlife refuges and helping themselves to whatever is around them.

You just made me very happy that I no longer live in the Sunshine State, and glad that Canada has gun laws. Because you know how many gun related deaths we have up here every year? Probably about 5 percent of what the US has.
Anonymous says:
Jun 09, 2009 08:31 PM
I love the way the people who are too afraid of nature to be out in it without a gun (if we're going to use stereotypes, I'm going to fire them back) wave the "Commie" or "gun banner" flag every chance they can get.

So, cowboy up, you sissies, and hike without guns!
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 06:31 PM
I'm sick of these liberals writing these articles and saying they own guns or are "Hunters" but then attempt to convince people that self defense is bad because of your own irrational fear of guns . people carry concealed weapons everyday and everywhere around you (both legally and illegally) . the violence wont increase and this wont make parks less safer . this is a good law and I'm glad it passed - and next time I go to a park I will be carrying . grow up and deal with it
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 07:41 PM
Anyone who has ever been camping, especially in a tent, knows that an external aggressor (of the human variety) always has the upper hand at night (unless, of course, you're the type who likes to stay awake keeping lookout clutching your pistol all night long.) They have the element of surprise in their arsenal - and now, in a national park, they can just attack you from a distance and avoid confrontation altogether. All this means for me is that now, instead of relying on my bear spray, knife and karate skills to protect me, I have to deal with a legally-carrying desperado who might just take me out from 20 yards. Great...just what I needed on my relaxing weekend. If buying a gun would prevent this from happening I would do it - but it won't.
Anonymous says:
Jun 04, 2009 08:12 PM
Carry permit holders are by and large the most law abiding people in the nation, (and there are statistics to back that statement up).

What you have to worry about is not the legally armed citizen, it's the individual with no reguard for the law. He (or she) has always carried in the park and couldn't care less wheather it is or was legal to do so. This is the same individual that I've gone to the trouble of obtaining the training and authorization to carry to protect myself AND MY FAMILY from!! Does this mean we (you and I) are on the same side?? It would certainly seem so.

If you chose to get all of the training you seem to posess and carry the pepper spray, etc..., Why hold it against me because I want to carry it a step farther. (Yes I have encountered that afforementioned individual, in and out of the park system. They do exist!!)

Legally-carrying desperado is a little oxymoronic, don't you think??
Anonymous says:
Jun 02, 2009 07:49 PM
I also don't see a reason to allow guns in parks now and like the author have one in my bedstand but never hike with one. I think we will see an increase in poaching in parks. Some people will not be able to resist that impressive rack on that non-hunted and thus not easily spooked deer or elk or they can claim the bear was threatening them and that's why they had to shoot it. Same for wolves just wait.
  As for agressive campers, having a camera is a more effective deterrent to escalating tempers in my opinion than a firearm.
Anonymous says:
Jun 03, 2009 08:12 AM
This amendment - wildly unrelated to credit card interest reform - is nothing but a muddy gift to the NRA. Read what Miami Herald columnist (and great novelist) Carl Hiaasen wrote at:[…]/1073033.html
Anonymous says:
Jun 06, 2009 01:10 PM
I just spent a week by myself camping/driving/LOVING kings canyon / sequoia national park and some of the state forest around the area. I did not have a gun and never even had one chance where I would need to use it.. I have done this sort of trip many times and NEVER had a gun nor would need to use it, only have had very nice rangers and strangers communicate with me , and, on top of all this, I usually smoke an illegal substance a good amount of the time when I am out and about and NEVER had a problem (knock on wood)..

I talked to a fellow camper about this and we came to the conclusion that very paranoid people think then "need" guns in national parks, and most people who think they need guns in the parks do not even camp, they just drive through, check out all the one stop tourist shops and keep on their way.. they are to paranoid to do backcountry camping or really get to know the land... guns are not needed at all in parks, they will just cause problems, guaranteed...

NOW.. I did see my first bear on the trial way out back kings canyon and for a brief second wished I had some protection, but then alas the bear high tailed it so fast when it saw me I had to question if it was even there (what a threat).. who knows, if I was a paranoid gun owner the bear may be dead or maybe I would have tried to shoot it out of fear and then it would maul me up but no, I just scared it by my presence and it took off never to see again, like 99.9% of situations like this.

Anonymous says:
Jun 09, 2009 08:34 PM
I have seen bears in national parks 10 or so times, black bears alone, plus grizz multiple times. I've camped solo in grizz country in both US and Canadian national parks. Never had a gun.

I guess I'm more manly than the "gun-huggers."
Anonymous says:
Feb 17, 2010 06:44 PM[…]/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America

Bear Attacks may be extremely low, but that doesn't mean they don't happen. At the very least, buy yourself some Bear spray.
Anonymous says:
Feb 20, 2010 08:53 PM
You are an idiot. ANYBODY that lives in grizzly country would tell you the same thing,even the Park Rangers. You have no clue how lucky you are that you didn't end up being bearcrap like Tim Treadwell and his girlfriend. If there is an area where carrying a firearm IS necessary, it's in the wilds of Alaska,Montana or even Wyoming.
Anonymous says:
Jun 07, 2009 12:20 PM
Mr. Hare -

Regardless of the issues, your stated support for your opinion is sloppy at best.

You first ask, "Has street crime risen in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite? Are tourists feeling so unsafe in the great outdoors that they're clamoring for the right to tote arms in their RVs and handguns on their hips? If so, I haven't heard about it." Well through the wonder of the internet, these statistics are easily available, and you will find that, for example, you are more likely to be injured as a park ranger than as an FBI agent. Or about the increase in usage of National Parks for drug trafficking.

You further state: "...even though no one in the Obama administration has ever suggested placing a moratorium on gun ownership."

And yet, another quick search turns up the locations where the Obama campaign site, and even the pages address Obama's plans to do just what you claim has never been suggested. Only recently, with the need for wider support, has the administration pushed this to a back burner.

While I abhor the political tactic of tacking on unrelated items to a bill, I equally abhor someone claiming to be a writer, contributing to a news service, completely failing to spend even 5 minutes researching a topic while at the same time pretending to have some type of expertise on the matter.
Anonymous says:
Jun 09, 2009 07:25 PM
Yes, I know ALL about those oft-quoted stats that park rangers are the most frequently assaulted of all federal law enforcement officers. So, in your vision, an armed citizen would come to the ranger's aid?!?! And yes, I've seen all kinds of stats that show how rampant crime is in parks and others that indicate that parks are the safest place in the country. Take your pick. I based mine on many years of direct experience. No, Obama has never suggested any moratorium on gun ownership...unless you're pre-disposed to reading and believing the obviously 'no gun restrictions' sites. And in all probability, I've got WAAAY more expertise in federal parks than you will ever have.
Anonymous says:
Jun 09, 2009 10:58 PM
Obama wanting to place a moratorium on gun ownership? That's a famously circulated conspiracy theory. During his entire campaign, Obama had his views on gun ownership, laws, and regulation overtly posted on his website. I know because I went there frequently to look up his positions on various issues as his campaign gained momentum and I wished to know more about his thinking. I think your "quick search" was a little too quick, and you're giving too much credence to content worthy of
Anonymous says:
Jun 09, 2009 06:17 PM
The majority of these posts are amazing. Guns are the answer to everything. I guess negotiating skills, common sense and personal responsibility are out of vogue. And most of these read as though they're upset there are no more cold war hidden enemies.
Anonymous says:
Jun 11, 2009 04:33 PM
Wow, what an array of comments. I own a gun and it stays at home. It makes me feel confident when things go bump in the night that I can protect myself from someone intent on harming me or my property. I don't carry a gun hiking, mowing the lawn or any place else. I have never seen any stories of a person who was carrying a concealed weapon coming to the rescue of anyone in need or their life being spared because they were carrying. I have spent much time in National Parks. I carry bear spray .. I have never needed it. I think bear spray would work fine on the rare attacking drunk camper as well. As others have said, I think it will do more harm than good and will increase the likelihood of accidental shootings and pouching. I don't see any circumstance in which a person would need a gun in a park .. buy the bear spray!
Anonymous says:
Jun 12, 2009 02:27 PM
I would like to add a point no one has addressed here.

I have lived in Colorado since 1970. I am an avid hiker with many years of experience in the mountains here. In the last 10 years, I cannot hike anywhere in the National Forest within a day's drive of the cities without hearing gunfire, and it makes me very insecure and sad, as well as disturbing my peace of mind. Furthermore, everywhere I see where they have been, as they shoot everything in sight: Indian ruins and petroglyphs, signs, trees, targets they bring in, old pioneer relics, etc etc.

All the people I know who like guns like them because they like to shoot them. In my opinion, allowing people to take guns into the national parks is giving the OK for them to shoot them there. Up to this point, it was the one place of solace away from guns. Even in wilderness areas one hears gunfire. Of course, there is little or no supervision there. How much supervision would be necessary in national parks to monitor the gun-toters? Never gonna happen.
Anonymous says:
Jun 16, 2009 06:13 PM
So – here is the operable part of the auricle that might be missed:
“Let's be honest: This has never been about a need for guns in national parks to ward off criminals, bears or big cats. This is all about the NRA wanting to flex its political muscle.”
That’s right. This is less about the rights of individuals or the need to use guns (our only defense?? Really??? ) to protect our SUV’s against vicious animals- it is about the ability of the NRA to hold both GOP and BlueDog democrat’s hostage.
Parks are in urban places like DC, New York City and LA as well as wilderness. Rangers do, indeed, have more than enough to deal with. Why should the ranger need to determine why the person has a loaded gun at the campfire program outside the visitor center? Isn’t it better sense to just say there is not reason for it?
There are many places in the US loaded guns are not allowed along with National Parks. Inside the US Capital where the lawmakers who are being held hostage but the NRA work? A military base? The CIA? NSA? A local Grade School? Believe it or not (I did a little research) most of the state parks where these lawmakers are from, do not allow loaded guns in their state parks unless it is hunting season. So is the issue a constitutional Crisis, or a power and money play by the NRA. Let’s think about it. That is my personal observation. Oh- and right on Reagan!
Anonymous says:
Jun 16, 2009 10:14 PM
No you don't need guns in national parks unless you're traveling with in-laws.
Sterling Greenwood/Aspen Free Press
Anonymous says:
Jun 24, 2009 01:59 AM
Let me summarize the gun grabber arguements. People who legally carry guns are drunks, poachers, paranoid, irresponsible, and looking for trouble. The writer states that he carries in the line of duty because he works in the backcountry. How dare he contend his life is more precious than mine. If the general public does not need firearms then neither does he. I agree with many people here in that I could probably hike everyday until I die and never be attacked by animal or man. Extend that scenario across millions of citizens however and someone will get hurt. Again we get back to the presumption that the common man is incapable of protecting himself from bodily harm. Apparently we live and die according to our appointed government protectors. As for the comments against pistol packing lawnmowers, ever try staring down a pitbull? By the way, the NRA is a Judas goat but that's for another discussion.
Anonymous says:
Jun 24, 2009 08:53 AM
Guns don't kill people; people kill guns.
Anonymous says:
Feb 22, 2010 10:36 AM
"How dare he contend his life is more precious than mine" Yeah, whatever Anthony. All you gotta do is read. I didn't state that I carry a gun on THIS job, and I don't. So you don't have to be all that appalled and indignant after all.
Anonymous says:
Feb 22, 2010 06:23 PM
While I don't agree with how you feel about this new law, you are intitled to your opinion. This only affects the law abiding people that have applied for,trained, had background checks and paid their fees and only then if they have reciprocity with that state and then only if that state already allows concealed carry within their State Parks. I would like to see any data that shows these legal CCW carriers have caused problems anywhere...
   But getting past that, I would like you to consider this (from personal experience). In the past I have purposely avoided traveling through National Parks with a concealed weapon just to avoid any possible problem to me. My vacations have consisted of a lot of vehicle travel, across state lines and into unknown areas. Now traveling families, who have a CCW can also enjoy our National Parks without any risk of breaking a law...
Anonymous says:
Jun 25, 2009 12:23 AM
I couldn't be happier now that we are allowed to carry firearms in to our national parks. It doesn't matter where you are, bad situations can take place anywhere. I am not a political person how ever i am thankful for our 2nd amendment. Oh, and for the record obama maybe has not yet gone after our guns but he will try. In my opinion he is like a coiled little snake waiting for use to slip so he can strike. How ever we will have our snake boots on that day to protect us.
Anonymous says:
Jul 11, 2009 10:49 PM
 I have had a permit for about a year now,im not paranoid and im not a wanna be cop,i didn't get beat up a lot in high school or any thing like that..Its my right and i earned it the class was very strenuous and very informative about the law,i carry every where i can legally not because i want to be a vigilante but because shit happens and you never know..I hope i never get into a situation where i have to use my weapon in public like in a McDonald's when some one comes in with a assault rifle and starts shooting but if i have to I've been trained to first be sure of my target and have a clear field of fire,will my rounds fired harm anyone but my intended target,,do i shoot to disarm or to take out the subject,,and there is so much more to think that being said i carry my weapon walking,bike riding,shopping,dinning out,hiking,camping,driving and i hope that when anyone that doesn't think i need to do so or have the right to is caught in a situation in public where gun fire breaks out close to them ,that i can be there for them because people with proper training and cool heads will prevail and people who carry concealed do make a difference and while some wont get involved most will to protect there fellow civilians
Anonymous says:
Jul 20, 2009 11:00 PM
To be honest I see no reason at all to carry a gun in a park. I understand that we have many restrictive laws in this country concerning guns but I seriously think that this was a bad Idea allowing guns in national parks. I think parks are a place for solitude to enjoy nature and to conserve nature I know hunters do a lot to control animal population but trust me there will be one idiot who ruins this for everyone cause he/she forgot that bullets can travel for miles beyond their targets. and someone will get hurt a clean campsite will deter animals and the only thing crimila do in national parks is grow weed.
Anonymous says:
Aug 19, 2009 02:44 PM
Well YOU might not need a firearm in the parks--then don't bring it but DON'T infringe on the right of others to carry arms and defend themselves.

There were many hikers killed, assaulted and missing in the nature parks. Gun is an equalizer and the only thing that will stop a 250lbs man trying to assault 100lbs woman. I'd suggest ALL women carry guns when they go hiking, unless the size of their party is at least 4 people. Gun can save your life. You never know when you encounter a 2-legged predator (I'm not even talking about rabid animals that are a problem as well).

Do you all remember a murder of 3 females in Yosemithe National park here in California in the late 90s? They were abducted from their motel room by one--yes just one criminal--tortured and killed. Now, if they had a gun this might not have happened. While he was trying to control one or two of them, the 3rd one could have fired at him.

Do not infringe of the right of Americans to defend themselves. If you want to get hurt or if you're strong enough to defend yourself against everyone, including a mountain lion or bear--go ahead, be safe, but keep your mouth shut.
Anonymous says:
Aug 19, 2009 02:48 PM
ps: the male who wrote an article is obviously trying to tell women to lay back and enjoy the rape and torture that is sometime inflicted on them when they go hiking or jogging in the parks alone, or to just stay out of parks and stay home in the kitchen.

The recent murder of a hiker in a Georgia park, etc, etc. There're lots of women in this country that will not give up their right to bear arm and will not, ever, let people like you take it away.
Anonymous says:
Feb 22, 2010 08:07 PM
That's basically the argument I keep hearing in most of these pro-gun replies. I'm scared of the wildlife/badguys/everything so I need a gun to protect myself. Or else I'm just too insecure without a gun to feel comfortable in the wilds. I realize that this is a very real feeling for some of you but if you look at the statistics you are simply much more likely to get hurt driving to the park than you ever are from either strangers or wildlife within the park.

What worries me about scared people with guns is that they tend to shoot first and ask questions later. And they may well shoot someone who is completely innocent because of the fear reflex. I'd wager that very few people who have a CCW permit have the disposition and training to calmly make choices about life and death actions. Shooting a gun is a simple skill, making rapid, correct choices about targets isn't. And panic, well that makes for a great deal of regret in hindsight.

There was a well-known grizzly research that always carried a .357...when he went to town, but never when he was in the woods with the bears. In part because having a gun in bear country tends to make you pay less attention to where they are and what you're doing; it's a false sense of security. Bears and lions are dangerous (I hike, work and camp around both of them plus snakes, bees and the like) but statistically unlikely to attack anyone reading or writing these comments. I'd probably 'feel' safer carrying a gun but I wouldn't necessarily be so.

You'd be better off coming to grips with your fears and learning from them than by insisting on carrying a loaded firearm everywhere. Or else staying home in your fortress.
Anonymous says:
Jun 05, 2010 09:34 PM
I rather have it, and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Anonymous says:
Oct 14, 2010 02:05 PM
Once again I would like to remind commenters that by leaving a comment on, you agree to our Comments Policy (

Personal attacks are not permitted. I have removed a thread started by "Wayne" that violated this policy.
Anonymous says:
Oct 15, 2010 10:34 AM
Do park rangers carry guns? Yes, what for according to the author he shouldn't need it. You don't carry a gun to shoot it ,it's for when you need to shoot it, not many known when that is. I doubt he is really a rabid gun owner as he states, he feels he needs it at certain times but not others, gun owners all believe this but don't suggest to know better than to tell others when that is.