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U.S. Senator To Make Bid to Allow National Park Visitors to Carry Guns


U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn wants to make it OK to carry guns in the national parks.

Why would a doctor be determined to provide more access to guns in the country?

U.S. Senator Thomas Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, will try to do that by introducing an amendment that would bar the Interior secretary from enforcing the current ban on carrying weapons in the parks.

The attempt by Sen. Coburn, who specializes in family medicine and "has personally delivered more than 4,000 babies," has drawn the attention of the Association of National Park Rangers, the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

Sen. Coburn's effort, which you can find attached below, would prohibit the Interior secretary from enforcing regulations currently in place that require gun owners to have their guns unloaded and stored while visiting most units of the park system.

In a letter sent to other senators, (and also attached below) the three groups say Sen. Coburn's amendment not only could lead to an increase in poaching in the parks but also impact the safe atmosphere that currently exists.

Senator Coburn’s amendment could dramatically degrade the experience of park visitors and put their safety at risk if units of the National Park System were compelled to follow state gun laws. For example, since Wyoming has limited gun restrictions, visitors could see persons with semi-automatic weapons attending campground programs, hiking down park trails or picnicking along park shorelines at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Moreover, many rangers can recite stories about incidents where the risk to other visitors – as well as to the ranger – would have been exacerbated if a gun had been readily-accessible. This amendment would compromise the safe atmosphere that is valued by Americans and expected by international tourists traveling to the United States.

There is simply no legitimate or substantive reason for a thoughtful sportsman or gun owner to carry a loaded gun in a national park unless that park permits hunting. The requirement that guns in parks are unloaded and put away is a reasonable and limited restriction to facilitate legitimate purposes—the protection of precious park resources and safety of visitors.

You can contact Sen. Coburn via this site to let him know what you think of his plans.


OK, this will be my final two cents on this topic as I believe, as someone previously pointed out, that it's been debated ad nauseam.

For Joe, I'm not suggesting you can't support parks and the 2nd Amendment. It's just my personal opinion that we don't need more guns in the parks, period. You also reference that the proposed amendment would bow to state laws on guns. Well, current federal law bans the carrying of weapons in most parks. If you can live by the state law, why not by the existing federal law?

As you said, "we agree to disagree."

For Art, my reference to the senator's profession was tied to my layman's understanding that doctors give a nod to the Hippocratic oath, "to do no harm." Guns might be a tool, as you say, but they have a very specific role, and that's to kill or maim (unless you're target shooting). That can happen whether it's intentional or accidental.

Now, if anyone who attached comments to this post would like to discuss other issues that affect the national parks, positively or negatively, I wholeheartedly welcome your thoughts.

So, Kurt, let me get this straight. If Sen. Coburn had been an abortionist, and boasted of having murdered 4000 babies, you would understand his desire to allow guns in the National Parks, because abortionists naturally tend toward violence?

What "perplexes" you is that anyone who prides himself on delivering 4000 babies might also believe that people have the right to defend themselves against others who may not share their respect for life.

Has it ever occurred to you that gun ownership and a propensity toward violence have absolutely nothing to do with each other? Guns are simply tools. People who own guns are no more inclined toward violence than your average delusional tree hugger. Your belief to the contrary is simply conceit.


I am a life member of the Sierra club and a member of the NRA. I support National Parks and the Second Amendment. Are you suggesting that one negates the other? The legislation does say that state law will govern firearms in the park does it not? This is hardly unrestrained access.

As far as your comment about Dr. Coburns' medical practice, what doctors do is another topic isnt it?

We can respectfully agree to disagree.


People should read up on Teddy Roosevelt. Traditional American liberties, like law abiding citizens carrying guns, are not incompatible with conservation & a love of our national parks. The real irrationality is coming from people who are hysterical about guns, but never about protecting innocent people from criminals. You cannot take some freedoms away without losing many others.


If the NRA put as much effort into actually supporting the parks, rather than seeking unrestrained access with its weapons, think of how wonderful the parks could be.

As for Senator Coburn, I find it curious and perplexing for a doctor who boasts of delivering more than 4,000 babies to want to increase access to weapons.

I'm not sure that the author is getting the responses he had hoped to see here. Senator Coburn just might be doing his job, exercising the will of the people.

Your comments suggest you haven't really spent much time in a national park. I'm no tree hugger but the last thing I want to see when I'm hiking in any park is some idiot who thinks his constitutional right to bear arms somehow makes him look cool by carrying a weapon. Obviously poachers exist, all you have to do is read park newsletters. Yes they obviously live by a lower moral standard than the rest of us, and no this bill isn't going to rid the world of poachers...another no brainer. The question is why would you need one? Protection? From what? If you claim an animal threatened/attacked you, then you were too close and stand a good chance of being arrested for poaching, since its illegal to shoot anything in the park if there's no open season at that specific time, or if you happen to shoot a protected species, well you're screwed. Protection from other people who are carrying guns in the park? Hmmmmm. Obviously you miss the point of a national park and what they really stand for and what people visit them for. This "senator" apparently hasn't been to many parks either, or at the very least, his idea of a national park does not jive with the reasons we have them.

I would rather fend off a person attacking me with a rock than a person with a handgun anyday.

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