A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers

The well-armored 21st Century Park Ranger?

Is it just me, or is it really a sad sign of the times when the National Park Service is promoting "factory direct" body armor to its rangers, body armor that not only stops most bullets but which is "a great choice for active rangers"?

Heck, there's even a women-specific line: One of the reasons that Savvy Armor for Women fits so well is that the company requires that each officer be personally fitted by one of their technicians.

And is it merely coincidence that the following release comes as top Interior Department officials are moving to allow more guns in the national parks?

The WASO Division of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services is pleased to announce the establishment of a new partnership with BAE Systems, a major government contractor and manufacturer of body armor.

BAE Systems (formerly known as Armor Holdings) has provided the NPS with special factory-direct pricing (less than GSA pricing) on soft body armor. Their products represent an exceptional value to the NPS while providing maximum safety to officers. Please note, however, that the NPS has not contracted to purchase these products and that law enforcement personnel may purchase appropriate body armor from any vendor.

RM-9 requires that all commissioned employees be provided with soft body armor. These body armor options meet or exceed minimum performance levels for ballistic protection. Two choices are available:

ABA – Xtreme HP level IIIa vest with soft trauma plate and carrier. The cost is $423.50. The new Xtreme HP soft body armor provides high performance level IIIa stopping power in a flexible, lightweight vest. Offering the latest in ballistic and fabric technology, this product is a great choice for active rangers.

Savvy Armor for Women – Flair PST level IIIa with soft trauma plate and two carriers. The cost is $696. This is a new women-run company offering an exceptionally comfortable product designed just for women. The division has been very impressed with this new company and its products. Two NPS rangers have been wearing their products for over six months and have nothing but positive remarks about the women-specific fit and comfort. One of the reasons that Savvy Armor for Women fits so well is that the company requires that each officer be personally fitted by one of their technicians. At this time, the only technician is at FLETC. They are working on establishing a road show with additionally fitting locations at various cities throughout the year. A notice will appear when this happens.


I believe in the 2nd amendment.

The rangers, in NP cannot protect us legally-armed citizen. You just do not have enough rangers (Congressional fault).

If I can pass the test for a carry permit, why can't I carry?

I have never had a gun go off accidentally, like the latest "armed" pilot. I still would like to know what stupid stunt that pilot was performing.

I only carry when I sense a bad situation, I would like to legally carry between states, but each state wants its fee, not safety. The NP is similar. It wants its cake and to eat it also!!

I think there is no relationship between the body armor and recently proposed legislation to restore Second Amendment rights to law abiding national park visitors. If there is empirical evidence otherwise, please share.

Sign of the times? Absolutely. Storm troopers in national parks show that our country has devolved to a police state.

Some argue that there is little violence in parks and that the chance of needing to defend oneself with a weapon in a national park is miniscule. Some of the same cite statistics of violence on park rangers to show that parks are dangerous and rangers need guns to keep the peace. What's it going to be? Why should government storm troopers be the only ones allowed to carry loaded arms on federal land? If parks are dangerous enough for the government to arm and armor itself, then parks are dangerous enough for the People to arm and armor themselves.

Kurt, you said:
"And is it merely coincidence that the following release comes as top Interior Department officials are moving to allow more guns in the national parks?"

My question is: "Who is going to be carrying these more guns?
Answer: Good guys like me and the other 5 million CCW holders in our country.

LOL...sad sign of the times? That is a joke. The Rangers are the ones talking about how they need to be armed for crowd control. Are they afraid we're going to speak out against their dictatorship? Why don't they just put us in helmets, boxing gloves, shackles, straight jackets and muzzles as we go through the park? Isn't that the only way we can truly be safe from one another? It seems like the whole "keep the guns out of the parks to save bears" argument is up in smoke (no pun intended). There is no common sense in this insanity. We're talking about the most responsible gun owners in the world "OFFICIAL PERMIT HOLDERS!!!!" What is the difference between a cop carrying a gun and any citizen? A test or course resulting in permission! We are giving citizens tests to make them COPs. We are giving citizens tests to allow them to carry a concealed weapon. In spite of what some of the Park Rangers think of themselves, they are not superhuman. In spite of what many government agents think of themselves, they are made of flesh and blood, like al of us. Please spare us your god complex and let's move on.

You know Fred, in the long run how this issue will be resolved is out of our hands and I've just been interested, primarily, in the debate.

That said, what concerns me more than a little, though, is that if the Supreme Court rules either A) that the 2nd Amendment applies only to militias, or B) that states and local governments have the legal authority to restrict where guns can or cannot be carried, there will still be some permitted CCW holders who will break the law because of their own interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

And if that law can be broken, what other laws can be broken? Does that make these CCW holders criminals? Should they forfeit their weapons and face charges if caught carrying in the parks? Or will they challenge a ranger rather than give up their arm?

That said, I fully hear what you and others are saying that no matter what the law says criminals will carry guns if they believe it meets their needs. And I still believe parks are plenty safe right now without the need for folks to carry.

Good points Kurt. I will carry in the backwoods no matter what. I just hate to think that I am a "criminal" if I do so.

For me, I have made the decision to provide a Ranger any assistance I can if the situation ever arises. I hate to think our Rangers need body armor because they might encounter a poacher, a "coyote", or a drug dealer. I hope this attitude gives me a little credence.

Credence, Fred? I know you've got my back if it ever comes to that.

Yes it is a bad sign of the times Kurt. Once upon a time our national parks where sanctuaries set aside by people with vision and forethought. Their intent I'm sure had something to do with preserving the wild and beautiful places in our country so that others would be able to enjoy those same wild and beautiful places many generations later. Imagine the first park rangers and what their "job description" entailed not to mention the simplicity of their uniform. Now think about the direction our parks are headed, and the job description of our rangers today and how much responsibility and pressure is put on them through wildlife and public control and safety, dealing with illegal drugs and poaching (granted poaching has always been there), traffic issues, payroll and budget issues and shortfalls, etc,etc,etc. We should all strap some of that body armour on and hike around this summer in the 90+ heat and I think we'd be more than slightly sympathetic to the job our rangers are faced with these days. Our rangers are under paid, under appreciated, and under stress. It's not just a wild and beautiful national park out there anymore. The folks at WASO were predictably right on time with their announcement, as they have found a perfect opportunity to promote their products. Sad but possible, with this kind of change in law, if it passes, there are bound to be incidents and instances where joe citizen feels the need to be protected or to protect. (Not everyone is as responsible as those CCW carriers- just look at the kids who bring daddy's gun to school) If joe doesn't really know what he's doing, (but let's hope they're all card carrying CCW joe citizens), then guess who has to come in and clean up or diffuse the mess...our amour plated ranger. Now set that scenario against the backdrop of an erupting Old Faithful, or somewhere in Sequoia, or maybe even on the Garden Wall. THAT would be a sad sign of the times indeed.

Deep breaths now....ahhh. I stated many many times on this site, and for some reason, people feel the need to sensationalize without thinking about what they're saying. This proposed rule change WILL NOT allow any ol' Joe to bring a gun into the park. It will only permit those citizens and/or "citizens on patrol" to carry their weapons they already carry with permission of the state, into the park.

There is no legislation in the world that will make someone obey the law. I'm sorry but the sad fact is we all have our own ability to choose. Criminals will not be allowed to carry guns into the park if this rule change is reversed back in accordance with the second amendment.

Tough concept to grasp but please try to understand. If you are a "law breaker" and you want to take a gun in the park...you will (why? because you have no regard for the rule of law). If you obey the law and have permission of your current state to carry a firearm then you don't have to keep it in a lock box outside the park or hidden in your car for someone to steal should you decide to grab a sandwich. If you have a concealed carry permit and the state where you are visiting the NP doesn't have reciprocity with your state....you can't legally take it into the park (no rule now or even if this change goes through will change that). Please read the legislation proposal before freaking out because all gun accidents are reported and relatively few gun heroics are reported.

The parks are the same sanctuaries as they have always been. Only the public perception of fear has changed. There are no gunfights in the park, no armed gangs lurking for backcountry hikers. I don't have access to any archive of the "morning reports", but how often are rangers shot at? Like never?

Go out, have fun, don't worry about dangers that won't affect you even in several life times. Worry about accidents on the road to the parks, but not about gunfights in the backcountry.

Just because you don't hear about Rangers getting shot at everyday doesn't mean it isn't happening. In fact, every year Rangers get shot at, but more importantly it isn't just about getting shot at. Rangers are still the most assaulted of all Federal law enforcement officials. In case you haven't noticed, bad guys take vacation too. Rangers have always carried guns. in fact, the first people to enforce the law in National Parks were Army cavalry troops. Rangers are cops, plain and simple; cops wear body armor.

As far as the guns in National Parks it doesn't matter if you have a CCW permit for any state. When you are in the park you are on Federal Land and there is no CCW for Federal Land. If you choose to carry while you are in a National Park then you choose to break the law. If you choose to break the law then you should accept the punishment you receive if/when you get caught. There are a lot of places you can't carry, even with a permit, and National Parks just happen to be one of them. I am a gun owner and believe in the right to carry legally. Rangers deal with enough illegal guns, so please give then a break and don't make them worry about more guns in the parks. They have a hard enough job as it is.

Where are these official reports of rangers being shot at? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but please do share this information with us rather than create control through fear. By simple fact that our parks are so unsafe with criminals who would shoot at a ranger, you've only created the need for good people to be armed as well. Every argument you make that a ranger should need a gun and have body armor is an argument for citizens to have the right to self protection. Until we have some future predicting ability there will be no way for a ranger to know where every crime is going to happen. No law enforcement body can stop all crime no matter how diligent they are. This arrogance by government agencies (particularly law enforcement) is the exact kind of “god-complex” that should never be allowed to touch a firearm, let alone protect another’s life.

I guess once again it must be stated that we all know there is no such thing as a CCW permit for federal lands. We are asking the federal government to recognize the sovereignty of a state in which the park is designated. This would be a rule change. No one is suggesting that breaking the law is the right thing to do. We're suggesting that there should never be a reason for the federal government to "infringe" on the 2nd amendment in an outdoor peaceful setting where (according to you) rangers are being shot at every year.

"Rangers deal with enough illegal guns..."

Really? How many?

"...so please give then a break..."

Citizens with CCW permits are trained and can give law enforcement rangers the "break" they need by protecting themselves. Criminals know it's illegal for law-abiding citizens to carry arms in parks, which makes visitors attactive targets, especially since rangers, in critically short supply, are the only legal bearers of arms in parks.

"...and don't make them worry about more guns in the parks."

I knew one law enforcement ranger who didn't "worry" at all about his own gun, a Glock 9mm that he left unsecured out in the open on the living room floor of his shared housing.

Joel is absolutely right that every argument supporting the need for armed law enforcement rangers is an argument that supports the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms in national parks.


I do not understand your obsession with denying licensed law abiding men and women the right to protect themselves in a National Park with a firearm. Courts in cities like Washington DC which has an extensive gun ban have already ruled that the police are under no obligation to provide protection to private citizens in "Warren v. District of Columbia”. Since large areas of park are patrolled by a few rangers why shouldn’t citizens be allowed to carry a firearm if they have a permit? Discharging a firearm is against the law in a park as it is anywhere else. If two women choose to enjoy the back country themselves and they have a CCW what’s wrong with it being legal for them to bring along their protection? Or anybody else for that matter?
I do enjoy some of your other stories on the national parks. We all know you don't like guns.



I know you're just baiting me, but since you asked....

Your first question cuts both ways. If you're law-abiding, why such an obsessive problem with abiding by or trying to overthrow the existing law? And really, more than a few "law-abiding" CCW holders already have said they broke the law by carrying in the parks, so what's your definition of "law-abiding"? And answer this: If the current regulations are left intact and you are found to be carrying illegally in a national park, will you forfeit your firearm? Will you agree that you are a criminal?

As for your last comment, how do you know I don't like guns? I've gone hunting in the past, have an air rifle to keep the varmints out of the garden, even had the pleasure of firing off a few rounds from a Casull .454, and long admired the Browning collection in Ogden, Utah, and the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

While you chew on that question, here are some findings on RTC laws from the National Academy of Science, which produced a report, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, in 2004 (it's the most recent study on this issue):

Deterrence and Defense

Although a large body of research has focused on the effects of firearms on injury, crime, and suicide, far less attention has been devoted to understanding the defensive and deterrent effects of firearms. Firearms are used by the public to defend against crime. Ultimately, it is an empirical question whether defensive gun use and concealed weapons laws generate net social benefits or net social costs.

Defensive Gun Use

Over the past decade, a number of researchers have conducted studies to measure the prevalence of defensive gun use in the population. However, disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection have resulted in estimated prevalence rates that differ by a factor of 20 or more. These differences in the estimated prevalence rates indicate either that each survey is measuring something different or that some or most of them are in error. Accurate measurement on the extent of defensive gun use is the first step for beginning serious dialog on the efficacy of defensive gun use at preventing injury and crime.

For such measurement, the committee recommends that a research program be established to (1) clearly define and understand what is being measured, (2) understand inaccurate response in the national gun use surveys, and (3) apply known methods or develop new methods to reduce reporting errors to the extent possible. A substantial research literature on reporting errors in other contexts, as well as well-established survey sampling methods, can and should be brought to bear to evaluate these response problems.

Right-to-Carry Laws

A total of 34 states have laws that allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns. Right-to-carry laws are not without controversy: some people believe that they deter crimes against individuals; others argue that they have no such effect or that they may even increase the level of firearms violence. This public debate has stimulated the production of a large body of statistical evidence on whether right-to-carry laws reduce or increase crimes against individuals.

However, although all of the studies use the same basic conceptual model and data, the empirical findings are contradictory and in the committee's view very fragile. Some studies find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, others find that the effects are negligible, and still others find that such laws increase violent crime. The committee concludes that it is not possible to reach any scientifically supported conclusion because of (a) the sensitivity of the empirical results to seemingly minor changes in model specification, (b) a lack of robustness of the results to the inclusion of more recent years of data (during which there were many more law changes than in the earlier period), and (c) the statistical imprecision of the results. The evidence to date does not adequately indicate either the sign or the magnitude of a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates. Furthermore, this uncertainty is not likely to be resolved with the existing data and methods. If further headway is to be made, in the committee's judgment, new analytical approaches and data are needed.

You can find the entire report here.

I'm glad you like some of the other national park posts you find on the Traveler. Believe me when I say I'll be glad when this issue is put to bed, whichever way it goes.

May I come in with a fresh viewpoint? Question: are visitors to the parks being assaulted when they visit (more than, say, once a year)? If so, if gun violence in national parks is rampant, we have a bigger problem than is solved by allowing everyone to carry guns will solve; we have a societal problem and an enforcement problem. If there is NOT a significant volume of gun crime in parks, then why not preserve and respect the current laws prohibiting gun carrying in the parks.

The reference to storm troopers sounds like crazy talk. But I understand that not everyone takes that attitude. It does seem that a national park should be a disarmed zone; park rangers should be able to carry guns if they wish. Has anyone, anyone at all, accused them of committing gun crimes? The park is not the same as general state property, and should be considered differently from generic land. The park is disarmed to protect the wildlife.

I know some people disagree - but I will end by repeating this question: is there currently a genuine need to defend oneself in national parks, or is this fight over the PRINCIPLE of the matter? If the former, I would say we need a careful look at the whole situation (and maybe more park rangers!) and possibly, possibly allow legal gun carrying. If the latter, then I say, disarm our parks - and pursue the visual, the olfactory, the aural enjoyment of nature.

David I must respectfully ask, from your own comments ("If there is NOT a significant volume of gun crime in parks, then why not preserve and respect the current laws prohibiting gun carrying in the parks"); Are you objective enough to ask the same question about why this law was placed on the books in the first place, (the parks did not always designate themselves as a "gun-free zone")? If its really only about poaching then why would we have FEDERAL lands oppose a constitutional amendment? Certainly you understand the difference between a hunting rifle and a concealable weapon? Certainly someone who speaks on gun ownership and the role of the federal government understands ballistics enough to know the range of a .375 H&H Mag and a .380 Auto. Even more confusing would be a .50 Cal Desert Eagle and a .50 Cal Barret. The designation you're looking for is "concealable". While all weapons can be lethal, states have laws on what powder and size a cartridge must be for each game type so as to not inflict a non-lethal wound on an animal.

If there is no need to change a law because of lack of evidence then there is no reason it should be on the books other than to restrict individual rights.

From the FBI National Crime Statistics for 2006, the last year for which data is complete:

In 2006, 257 officers from the Department of Interior were assaulted, and 62 of these officers were injured. The following provides breakdowns by agency within the DOI:
Bureau of Indian Affairs: 129 officers were assaulted, and 42 of these officers were injured.
National Park Service: 101 officers were assaulted, and 20 of these officers were injured.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: 27 officers were assaulted; however, none were injured.

210 of the 257 DOI officers were attacked with personal weapons, such as hands, fists, or feet.
28 DOI officers were attacked with vehicles.
7 officers were attacked with blunt instruments.
5 officers were attacked with firearms.
2 officers were attacked with knives or other cutting instruments.
5 officers were attacked with other types of weapons.

As far as body armor is concerned, my personal belief as a police officer is that all uniformed law enforcement personnel, including law enforcement park rangers, should wear body armor. Granted, its probably more of a necessity in border parks like Big Bend and Organ Pipe (places with high rates of drug trafficking, etc) than it is in Acadia, but the reality is that bad things can happen anywhere, so why put yourself at increased risk by not wearing it?

I don't find advertising the availability of body armor to law enforcement rangers directly related to the recent move to allow more guns. I find it to be exactly what it is: providing for the safety of your officers. If I were a park ranger, I'd wear body armor even if none of those assaults from 2006 had involved firearms.

If anyone is still looking at this sight google the names Joe Kolodski, Kris Eggle, Steve Jarrell all are Rangers who were shot to death in National Parks in the last 10 years. Of course you may think well that is only three Rangers in 10 years, but couple that with the statistics on how many Rangers that have been assaulted and an agency that sees law enforcement as a necessary evil. The other sad part is that most criminal activity in National Parks is not reported directly to the public, there are no National Park police blotters in local papers, because the parks don't want the public to hear about all of the drugs, drunks, guns, and other criminal activity that goes on in the parks. The National Park Service morning Report only provides information on incidents that parks ask to be posted, many incidents across the country never get posted on the site.

If you live near a park stop by and ask for the law enforcement statistics on gun violations, drug violations, DUI's, and use of force incidents where Rangers have had to use their guns, Tasers, or defensive equipment to make arrests. I am certain you will be suprised by the numbers that are provided to you. Oh yeah I have no problem with people carrying guns in parks if the regulation is changed and people with concealed weapons permits are allowed to carry. I know for a fact that we did not have enough rangers to properly protect the public in any National Park. Another question you might ask is how many law enforcement rangers are on duty in the park after midnight? The response will probably be none as most parks do not have the staff to operate a 24 hour law enforcement program and in most parks not even a 24 hours dispatch center.

Don't blame the short staffed Rangers for doing their jobs and enforcing the current regulations. Also most criminal activity in parks goes on in overlooks, parking lots, and in cars going down the roadway and not out in the backcountry, just like the real world outside of the parks. Yes there is always the possibility of some crazy out in the woods, but most of the law enforcement problems occur on the roadways and overlooks.

I agree....you must comply with the law. However, sometimes you must choose the safety of your family or friends at any cost. There are many "laws" that need to be changed. For example, there are many very liberal, gun hating Cities, that have strict firearm restrictions. In some cases, like the Pizza delivery man who was robbed several times, at gun point, chose to carry a gun (which was illegal in his City/State), and was robbed again at gun point and he shot the criminal (that would be the robber, but I realize some liberals might wonder which criminal now I was talking about). The liberal Prosecutor decided to prosecute the Pizza Man, and actually faced a larger sentence than the real criminal (that would be the thug).

So, I guess a criminal is not a criminal, is it? Would you blow through a red light on your way to get your child to the hospital? AND, after your description of how AT RISK Rangers are (I'll take your word on this...just because)......my God that might want to make all people blow through that Red Light..? Rangers should be tickled pink that there just might be some good people (with guns)...just in case one of those "bad guys" vacationing (presumptively with a gun too) decided to be bad.

The Rangers want to go to the party too! I mean, why shouldn't they have armor, APC's and automatic weapons? The police and law enforcement groups have gotten out of control in this country feeding us all crap "we are being outgunned by the criminals!" they say. Oh yeah? Has ANYONE seen any credible increase in the criminals using, carrying and killing with automatic weapons? With Body armor? it is a myth designed to keep their budgets high and you a second class citizen. Authorized Personal Only.

While they have been trying to disarm us, since 9/11 the government has authorized virtually every office to carry weapons when they see fit. Not just the FBI either. The FCC, SEC, FDA, State Deparntment, EPA and so on. Seriously, a note from their boss and they can carry anytime anywhere and that is that.

Editor's note: This comment was shortened for clarity.

SO WHAT? What's the big deal if National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, all State Park Rangers, Fish and Game Wardens and everyone else who does some form of law enforcementout out in woods, fields or desert wears level II or III vests and carries OC-10, batons, revolvers, semi-auto pistols, shotguns, M-4's or even full automatic weapons in the trunk. They have a NATURAL right to protect themselves against the increasing number of poachers, dope growers, meth cooks, illegal aliens, smugglers, miscellaneous criminals and all the other @#$%bags who are aware that Rangers and other conservation personnel (not to mention visitors) are often unarmed and a long ways from help.

After all (Mr. and Ms. overly sensitive America), simply seeing someone wearing body armor or a gun shouldn't be a cause for neurotic fear - it's not the gun, it's the person carrying it that decides if the gun will be used for good or evil purposes. All the personnel above are at least minimally trained to unholster a weapon only when necessary, and also only to fire when stopping an aggressor from performing "grave bodily injury or death." This kind of training is as basic to law enforcement academies as learning your ABC's is in elementary school.

Hunters are another group of people who receive firearms safety training, along with people who get CCW's, although they do receive less training (and you can't get enough training!)

But if seeing a law enforcement officer in full uniform wearing body armor carrying a gun out in the woods makes you feel uncomfortable, educate yourself about guns and firearms training to get over it - knowledge is power.

If that doesn't work, go see a shrink (or turn off liberal / sensationalist media - they are the modern sensitizing source of gun and all other fear of violence phobias).

To be quite honest, I was only on the computer looking for a site that showed a measurement sheet for my own body armor since I am about to go work in a National Park. I believe that one comment above stated "minimalist gear" that the early park rangers wore, and it made me laugh. People have this idea that rangers have always been the nature loving man in the woods. Up until the 1970's, any person who worked for a park could carry a firearm (that would be your friendly park maintenance worker too.) That didn't work out so well in Yosemite, and now only trained LE rangers can carry firearms. Imagine a park where any untrained yahoo can carry a firearm! Oh wait...2nd amendment...not yet.

I understand how people believe they have a right to their public lands- I agree. However, the park service, much like other land agencies, has a duty to more than one mission. There will always be different groups with different opinions on how they should be allowed to use their land, and there will always be groups that do not use their land appropriately. I myself would like all the protection I can get- if I am going into a drug grow/Domestic/felony car stop/etc....(insert any crime that happens in a city because those parks can be like little cities) I want to be sure that I am protected. I am appointed to protect myself, others, and my park- and I should be given all the equipment I need to accomplish that task. So, I’ll continue to look for that dang body armor measuring sheet.

Just remember...criminals recreate too.

Body armor is not a new development in the NPS. It's been around for years - and should have been made widely available to rangers even earlier. Improvements in armor continue to be made, and the equipment provided to rangers should be upgraded at intervals.

The previous comment by "Anonymous" is well stated. The least the NPS can do is properly equip and train rangers for an often difficult and sometime dangerous job.

As to some previous comments - there is a significant difference between risks to visitors and risks to rangers by criminals who happen to be in parks - which is why the rangers who have been selected and trained to perform law enforcement duties should be armed.

As has been covered on multiple posts on a variety of articles on this site, the number of park visitors who are victims of violent crime is extremely low. Even bad people who are either passing through or intentionally visiting parks don't usually accost visitors, because they don't want to attract undue attention and end up in the slammer.

However, sometimes these bozos do attract the attention of a ranger by doing something stupid - often a traffic violation. In that case, when the individual who may be wanted for another offense realizes that he is now at risk of being identified and arrested, the situation is much different, and the risk to the ranger is sometimes very real. In other cases, the person may not be wanted for a previous crime, but is simply a dangerous idiot who decides he doesn't want to be arrested.

Park visitors aren't expected to confront drunk or reckless drivers to keep them from harming innocent motorists on park roads, and visitors aren't expected to confront poachers, or drug smugglers, or dope dealers, or .... That's one reason visitors are very rarely at risk in parks - because rangers are dealing with those individuals.

There's absolutely no way to know how many rangers lives have been saved because the ranger was armed, and the criminal decided not to press his luck, or the ranger was able to keep the upper hand due to training and equipment - including body armor and weapons. However, if they are expected to perform law enforcement duties, rangers should certainly be properly equipped for the job.

A different "Anonymous" a few comments earlier said

"The police and law enforcement groups have gotten out of control in this country feeding us all crap "we are being outgunned by the criminals!" they say. Oh yeah? Has ANYONE seen any credible increase in the criminals using, carrying and killing with automatic weapons?

Since you asked, and obviously need a little information:

1. Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed in 2002 at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. The murderer was a criminal fleeing Mexican authorities. He reportedly used an AK-47 against the ranger.

2. Ranger Joe Kolodski was shot from ambush and killed by man reportedly armed with a .308 rifle. The incident occurred on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1998. Perhaps not an automatic weapon, but clearly superior, long-distance firepower as compared to the ranger's handgun or shotgun.

Other ranger deaths illustrate the risk of "routine car stops" or other "routine duties."

3. Ranger Robert McGhee was shot and killed after making a traffic stop at Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1998.

4. Steve Renard Makuakane-Jarrell was killed in a small park in Hawaii in 1999. Reports said he was contacted by visitors who complained that a man had several large dogs running loose which may have been threatening other visitors. The ranger was shot and killed during the contact with this individual.

5. Ranger Ken Patrick was shot and killed at Point Reyes National Seashore in 1973. Reports indicate he made a car stop on 3 men suspected of being poachers. They turned out to be violent members of the Black Panther group and opened fire when the ranger approached their vehicle.

To those who object to the sight of a ranger wearing a firearm - at least one report of the murder of Ranger Patrick states that he never had a chance to draw his weapon in self-defense. Why? He was wearing it out of sight, under his uniform coat. A L.A. Times story about the incident said, "At the time, it was common for rangers to keep their weapons out of sight so as not to frighten park visitors."

Although everyone still doesn't agree, I'm thankful that policies no longer put that needless burden on rangers.

The current law only allows guns if they are secured and the ammo is secured separately I can have gun just not on my person or concealed or easily available. That may be a problem in the back coutry since iti s hard to secure the ammo and gun separatly in a back pack or in a campground.
I look forward to the time I can have can easily with me without it being concealed but that time is going to a long time away. The current injuction will probably stand.

The body armor is not a reaction to the proposed rule but to the fact that park rangers have a higher rate of assaults than FBI and the danger in particular parks is acute.

I am british, so I won't get in to this discussion as I have no right to discuss what happens in you're country.
I was attacked in my tent by a group of men whilst I was camping in a national park in England. I was badly beaten & had a lot of gear stolen, fortunately I'm male, I think it would have turned out much worse if I'd been female.
We have practically no right to defend ourselves, with the victim getting harsher punishment than the criminal if they try to defend themselves.
We have no 2nd Amendment, so only the criminals are armed.
I work as an outdoor instructor & spend most of my free time in the outdoors, so I will not let this incident ruin my life. So in not wanting it to happen again I must break the law, by carrying a hunting knife & a trench mace. ( Normal people don't have access to firearms.)
If this has happened to you, then it makes no difference what the laws are because it has'nt happened to the people that made those laws, they just can't understand & I definately don't want it to happen to me again.
By the way, if you are allowed to carry a firearm in your national parks, would that apply to foreigners too?
I want to take a trip deep into the Rockies & Yellowstone, but would worry about 2 legged critters if I can't carry. (Probably 2 barrel shot gun as its easier to get a licence for.)

Anonymous, the only way you legally can carry weapons in the parks is if you're licensed to do so. My guess is that since you live abroad you'd have a hard time qualifying.

As for going "deep" into the Rockies and Yellowstone, I've been doing it for three-plus decades and have never needed a weapon.


Actually, in some states, a license is not required to openly carry a firearm. There is no provision that one must have a license to carry in the National Parks, but only Vermont and Alaska allow one to carry concealed without a license.

The provisions of Public Law 111-24 that address firearms in National Parks reads:

The Secretary of the Interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm including an assembled or functional firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System if—
(1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and
(2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System is located.

Here in Washington state, one can openly carry a firearm without a license. There is a provision for someone who is not a U.S. citizen to obtain an Alien Firearm License from the Washington State Department of Licensing. With that, one can get a license to carry a concealed pistol.

Ken Grubb
Puyallup, WA

For what it's worth, the governor of Utah wants to revise his state's concealed weapon permitting system because too many out-of-staters have been applying for them and Utah officials have no means of monitoring those individuals, let alone testing their proficiency. Indeed, apparently the state of Nevada has decided not to reciprocate with Utah on its CCW permits because Utah doesn't require applicants to demonstrate proficiency on a shooting range.


The governor is fretting over nothing. As for the fees, if the $10 renewal fee isn't covering the state's cost of processing the renewal apps then they could certainly increase the fees to cover costs. Here in Washington I believe it runs about $33 for a 5 year renewal.

As for monitoring, they run criminal records checks through NCIC, just like any other state.

Testing of proficiency is another red herring. Here in Washington and a number of other states there's no proficiency testing either, there's no problem now or in the past. Utah's mandatory minimum testing requirements are more rigorous than in many states with proficiency testing but less rigorous than in a few states.

Ken Grubb
Puyallup, WA