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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.

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