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Comment Period Reopens on Whether National Park Visitors Can Arm Themselves


The comment period regarding a proposal to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons has been reopened.

Starting today and running through August 8 you can post your thoughts on this proposal at this site.

The comment period originally was to close on June 30, but requests from groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association and members of Congress convinced Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to extend the period another 30 days.


I live in Montana in the backyard of Glacier National Park. I go into the park 7 to 9 times a month durring hiking season and 2 to 3 times each month in the winter. I have hiked many trails and have seen lots of wildlife. I enjoy my time in the park and on the trails knowing that I am armed and can protect myself. I am a 115 lb woman who hikes alone. I fear that I could run into a bear that can and would disable me in a heartbeat, or a mountian lion that could stalk me and catch me totally off guard. The most fearsome beast in the woods is another hiker who would see me as a victim, easy prey. My desire to be out in the woods is greater than my fear and I have fortunately not had the need to expose my firearm. I will continue to carry it for protection and once the 2010 hiking season comes around not fear that I will get in legal trouble for my preference to support my constitutional right to protect myself. I am aware of my presence in the beautiful park that I love and cherish, the right to protect myself should not been seen as a problem to the environment. I am not in the woods for target practice nor do I intend to expose myself or wildlife to unnecessary and undo harm. If you have never hiked a trail that is frrequented by grizzly bears and sat on a ridge to see the sun splay the most amazing colors across the sky I cannot imagine you have any input on this discussion as you are not making a statement based on the inherent dangers of being in the wild.

It is not my desire to debate the sensitive second amendment, but it is important for me personally to communicate how much I would appreciate the choice to carry a weapon in a Federal or National State Park.

I am not a hunter, a NRA member nor ex-military or law enforcement. I am however, one who was raised to respect and use guns for target practice, etc. Respecting the taboo position of much of the country, my family and friends I repressed my desire to own any guns. This changed quickly after being attacked by a bear while camping with my unarmed family and being taunted by a large animal for hours. I have since made it a priority to always be armed while camping or hiking remotely and while at home my weapon is securely locked away. It confuses me however, that in New Mexico, I can legally carry a weapon on my hip - without a permit (aside from within a school or facility selling alcohol) but if I were to go hiking in the surrounding mountains that are known for mountain lion attacks and heavy black bear activity - it is illegal.

Yes, this should be open for debate and while laws should remain in place concerning hunting and or poaching I see little reason why Americans shouldn't have right to bear arms responsibly in this environment.

When the fact of the matter is that any object, including a human fist, can be used as a weapon with deadly force, a gun is just another option. The intent of both wild and domesticated animals, humans included, is what harms. Guns are not to be feared, the inhumane nature of some people is, how do you regulate that? Leave our guns and freedome alone.

i have been a gun owner for over 4 years now and have had my permit for close to one. i thankfully have never had to pull or discharge my firearm for any reason except in the range. thank god. i carry my gun with me everywhere i go except work, i'm not allowed to by law i'm a teacher, therefore, i cant have it on school grounds nor in my car. other than that, it's on me, on my side or in a fanny pack. do i feel safer with my gun? you're damn right i do. the way things are nowadays people get robbed for the clothes off your back so why wouldnt i carry it anywhere and everywhere. do i want to shoot someone? hell no, it's something i hope i never have to do, but if me or anyone that i'm with is threatened or in a situation where i have to use it, you can bet your ass i will not hesitate. a gun is for personal use only. i'm not a vigilante, or a guardian angel for anyone. and i'm certainly not going to wait around for someone else to come to my rescue. if you read the laws carefully, law enforcement is not required to protect you as an individual but more as a society in general. would you want to have to wait those 10-20 or more minutes for someone to have to come to your aid or would you rather protect yourself and not risk your life or that of anyone around you. as far as carrying in national parks, i am totally for it. people say that it will be more of a reason to shoot and kill innocent wildlife or to scare hikers and people walking trails. i dont know but as a responsible gun owner, i know the laws and i have never nor will i ever use my handgun to scare or intimidate others, nor will i shoot anyone or anything innocent just for fun. that would make me a murderer and that i am not. my gun is for personal protection. if you look up or talk to park rangers the world over, they'll tell you just how much crimes are committed in national parks. rapes, murders, assaults. why should i have to fall victim to that if i'm a law abiding citizen who responsibly carries his firearm without harming anyone or anything.

While neither the U.S. Forest Service nor the National Park Service keeps precise statistics about crime on federally protected lands, officers and rangers say that crime appears to be on the rise in the backcountry. Between 2002 and 2007, there were 63 homicides in national parks, 240 rapes or attempted rapes, 309 robberies, 37 kidnappings and 1,277 aggravated assaults, according to National Park Service statistics.
The article can be found here:

Statistics of people harmed in national parks by crime or wildlife are not justification for carrying guns, sure. I carry a gun with me every day, everywhere I go. I don’t shoot people, or have any intention of shooting people. Most people wouldn’t guess that I have a gun. I don’t carry it because I’m going somewhere dangerous and I’ll need it, I carry it because I am responsible for my own safety.

If you think our Nat’l Parks are safe havens, free from crime and bastions of peace and harmony with nature, you obviously don’t get out much. Just ask Julianne Williams, Carole Sund, daughter Juli, Silvina Pelosso and Laura Winans. Oh wait, you can’t. They were murdered in a National Park!

carry responsibly

Ed's note: Carole Sund, her daughter Juli, and Juli's Argentian friend Silvina Pelosso were not killed in a national park, as has been incorrectly claimed in this comment and in blogs all over the Internet. The three murder victims had recently visited Yosemite National Park. We do not know of a crime statistics category that consists of "people who have recently visited national parks."

"People 'still willing to torture'"

That link is the BBC's report of a new repetition of the famous Milgram Experiment (circa 1961), in which experimental subjects are tricked into thinking they are giving higher & higher voltage shocks to an unseen subject. This experiment was designed by Milgram to explore how & why such social events as the Holocaust can happen.

The original and the new experiment both show that 70% to 90% of the population will easily collaborate in social activities in which their actions hurt, injure, or even kill an unseen victim, when the harmful actions are encouraged by an 'authority figure' (the scientist managing the experiment), or, more candidly, by peer-pressure and the desire to please/participate.

Here is the the Google News thread for reports on the new experiment (and plenty of review on the original, too).

The public focus of the analysis of the experiment is always the ~80% who are willing to hurt others, under the influence of mere encouragement. However, what has always stood out about this experiment for myself, is that about 20% of the population is relatively impervious to the blandishments of 'authority' in questionable contexts, and remain capable of perceiving the ethical merits of situations, even when their peers promote folly.

In other words, about 20% are actually "independent", and remain capable of setting & adhering to their own coarse & principles, when all around them are 'going crazy'.

There are major implications of this experiment, pertaining to both the nature of contemporary armed citizens, and the reasons why America protected the right of private armament in the first place.

Highly recommended reading ... and reflection.

Then there are the studies of the study:

For example, despite a large body of research, the committee found no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime, and there is almost no empirical evidence that the more than 80 prevention programs focused on gun-related violence have had any effect on children’s behavior, knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about firearms. The committee found that the data available on these questions are too weak to support unambiguous conclusions or strong policy statements.

Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review


"The claim of many millions of annual self-defense gun uses by American citizens appears to be invalid."

The myth of millions of annual self-defense gun uses: A case study of survey overestimates of rare events.

And this interesting tidbit... :-)

For three years, John Lott pretended to be a young woman.

Her name was Mary Rosh.

Mary Rosh often spoke sweetly of her days as a student of John's, she gave a glowing review of his book "More Guns, Less Crime," she criticized anyone who questioned John's research or his conclusions, and she attacked other researchers in her ardent defense of Lott's idea that more guns on the streets leads to less crime.

She was also a petite defenseless creature. We know this because John, we mean, she said:

"Do you really think that most women can out run your typical criminal?…Even if I am not wearing heels, I don’t think that there are many men that I could outrun."

"As a woman, who weighs 114 lbs, what am I supposed to do if I am confronted by a 200 lbs. man?"


I have been carrying concealed since before the license was available. I figure if I ever have to use it, I have bigger problems than a fine or even jail time. If it saves my life I will gladly pay the fine or do the time. A friend once told me it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. I only use a gun in self defense. If my life is truly in danger, some "law" written somewhere on a piece of paper in a courthouse is not going to save me from someone who does not follow the law yet has bad intentions. The bad guys will always break the law, that is why they call them criminals. I have sent a guy with a large knife and a snoot full of drugs packing one time when he brandished the knife against my family. My gun saved our lives. I did not report it because I would be considered the criminal for carrying without a permit and he was long gone after deciding his life was not worth whatever he had in mind. I now have a carry permit because my state now offers it. I carry often and hope I never have to use it. I also wear my seat belt for the same reason. We should not have to worry about getting a ticket for carrying in an environment that is extremely vulnerable. I do not fear the animals, it is the criminal element I feel is the most threat. If you read the book “more guns less crime” by Dr. John Lott you will understand the firearm statistics much better. Best book I ever read on statistics and how they are manipulated. He actually crunched data from every county in the U.S., not just the ones that supported his point of view. He was actually against guns until he did his research.

Lots of misinformed commentary here by the folks who refuse to believe that unarmed parks visitors (in isolated areas or otherwise) are potential victims of those with criminal intent. In other words "it won't happen to me". That is a classic victim's mentality.

The same histrionics about how dangerous concealed carry will be were brought up back in 1987 when Florida became the first state to streamline concealed carry laws - and those concerns were shown to be groundless in the years that followed. Over 30 states have follow suit in streamlining their CCL (Concealed Carry License) laws.

For you folks that don't know what's involved - CCL permit holders in most states have to go through criminal background checks, take approved firearms courses (including laws limiting the use of deadly force) and demonstrate minimum proficiency. The license has to be renewed each four years or so and any incident during that time is reported to the issuing authority - and misuse can (and does) result in revocation of the permit. In other words - a CCL holder sitting next to you is perhaps one of the most law-abiding citizens you will ever encounter - and you'll never know they are carrying. You have no need to know and they won't tell you. So all this "anti-carry" fuss is really over nothing.

If concealed carry is so dangerous - then why aren't National Forests as dangerous as these anti-carry types fear? - National Forests have long followed the guidelines that are now proposed for the National Parks - permitting concealed carry based on the laws of the states where they are located.

Don't kid ourself - there is a fair amount of crime in National Parks - and if it happens to you - it will take a long time for help to get to you. I hope none of the "anti-carry" folks have to find that out the hard way.

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