Did the NRA Infiltrate Groups Opposed to Overhauling Gun Regulations for the National Parks?

Is this woman a spy who worked undercover for the National Rifle Association?

How far will the National Rifle Association go to overthrow gun control measures? Apparently infiltrating groups who favor gun control isn't out of the question. Among the groups infiltrated? Apparently the National Parks Conservation Association.

Mother Jones magazine, in a story published Wednesday, reports that a woman known as Mary McFate has over the years worked undercover as an NRA mole who infiltrated gun control groups. Among the more recent targets was NPCA, which has been working for months against efforts by Interior Department officials to overturn gun regulations pertaining to weapons in the National Park System.

Under the current guidelines, weapons owned by licensed gun owners can be brought into the parks, but they have to be broken down and stored out of easy reach. Earlier this year, however, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne proposed to replace that regulation with one that would allow park visitors to arm themselves around the clock if the laws of the state in which the park in question is found allowed.

What's not been answered is how rangers in park units that span multiple states -- such as Yellowstone, Death Valley, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains -- would police gun laws if this proposal were embraced.

A source for the Mother Jones story, Barbara Hohlt, executive director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence, told the magazine that Ms. McFate's ears perked up when she heard about NPCA's opposition to the change.

McFate also took a keen interest in a gun matter currently under consideration by the Department of the Interior, Hohlt says. At the urging of the gun lobby, the agency has been mulling whether to change its regulations to allow people to carry loaded and concealed guns into national parks under certain circumstances. (At the moment, a gun carried into a national park must be unloaded and kept apart from ammunition.) The National Parks Conservation Association and current and former National Park Service officials have been fighting the proposed rule change. "When Mary heard about this," Hohlt recalls, "she immediately asked to be on the email list [of the opponents] and she also got on the phone calls. So she now knows the strategy of the people trying to fight this."

NPCA officials, understandably, are aghast at the possibility that their private deliberations have been overheard by a spy possibly working for the NRA. In a statement issued this afternoon the park advocacy group confirmed that Ms. McFate "has participated in multiple confidential conversations and email correspondence over the past few months about efforts to keep visitors and wildlife safe in our national parks."

Bryan Faehner, NPCA's legislation representative, adds that, "If the investigation by Mother Jones proves true, then the NRA will have effectively spied on our ongoing efforts to keep visitors and wildlife safe in our national parks. If true, this is a troubling display of the lengths to which the NRA will go to further its agenda."


Are NPCA officials also aghast at the idea of constitutional rights that apparently don't exists in parks and conservation areas? Given that the pen is mightier than the sword, shall we abolish the First Amendment in these places as well?

Persons properly licensed to carry a firearm pose exactly zero risk to anyone in national parks, just as they pose(if anything) only a positive force in the world at large.


>> Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne proposed to replace that regulation
>> with one that would allow park visitors to arm themselves around the clock.

Obfuscation. The rule allows carry procedures and rules to match those of the state the park is located in. So those in opposition to this proposed rule chance are actually telling us that the People, working within the laws of their state can not be trusted to follow the laws of that state. They are saying we can’t govern ourselves and must be treated like serfs or peasants.

I don't think so.

Thanks anon, it wasn't intentional. I'll fix it. Still, how many states with concealed carry place time restraints on that privilege?

The comments to this story make it clear that the NRA is also hard at work responding to blog stories that paint them in a negative light, diverting attention away from their devious schemes to undermine democracy with obfuscating platitudes about constitutional rights and scare tactics about free speech. It seems that gun and ammo profits make for a lot of firepower to defeat those of us believe in the possibility of a more peaceful, nonviolent world.

Bryan Faehner spins well. His phrasing make the NRA sound so much worse than perhaps :

"If the investigation by Mother Jones proves true, then the NRA will have effectively spied on our ongoing efforts to keep visitors unarmed against possible dangers in our national parks, even if they have the right to carry elsewhere in the state. If true, this is a troubling display of the lengths to which the NRA will go to further its agenda."

Kurt, re: parks that span states: Different states have different laws regarding theft, assault, etc. What happens in those parks now for those things? I assume that (to pick Great Smokey Mountain NP) While in TN, TN laws would apply and while in NC, NC laws would apply. So to walk trail that goes through both states, you would need concealed carry rights in both states. Fortunately, many states have a reciprocity clause built in to their CC laws stating that they will recognize the concealed carry rights affirmed by another state if the other state will recognize theirs.


Mark, re multiple states, I'd offer that it's not as easy as you paint it. While there are reciprocity in many states, not all states offer the same, and so rangers in parks that span two states would not only have to be well-familiar with both states' laws, but also know in which state they're in, and in the backcountry that could at times be problematic.

But, alas, I've been through this debate too many times to want to repeat it verbatim.


I understand the difficulty of a ranger knowing which state he is in (although less so than before GPS was an option) , but isn't this an issue with any law that might be different between the two states?

Another Voice,

You seem to be in "don't bother me, my mind is made up mode", but for what it is worth, while I am an NRA life member, I saw this not because of the NRA but because I have National Parks Traveler on my Yahoo page.
Do you have any examples of devious schemes to undermine democracy. I personally fail to what is obfuscating about referring to the supreme law of the land, the Constitution. And, as far as things being scary goes, if the 2nd Amendment is ignored with impunity, I doubt that the 1st will remain strong.



Adding a gun to the equation raises the stakes substantially.

Maybe if those ladies who were killed in Yosemite NAtional Park were allow to have a loaded gun in their posession they would still be alive???? (Ed: The murders referenced here did not take place in Yosemite National Park. The murdered women were Yosemite tourists who were killed near the park. For a relevant map, see this site.)

I'm not sure that I would necessarily agree that a gun has to raise the stakes, but you were describing difficulties with having to know the laws of both states. I was just pointing out that that is already an issue. You would have the same issue if someone were smoking a joint on a trail that crossed between two states. The ranger would have to have probable cause to suspect that the item being smoked was illegal in which ever state he was in.

Let's say for arguments sake that one state allows up to 3.5 ozs for personal consumption (I think that is or used to be Alaska's law) and in the other state you could get put in jail for 6 months for possession of a joint. Ignoring federal law (perhaps this wasn't a good example because there is applicable federal law - although I have no idea how it's Constitutionally justified), the ranger must determine what state he is in before knowing what action to take.

Can you provide a single incident where prohibiting the ownership/carry of fire arms produces a more peaceful society? Washington, DC, UK, etc.?

The topic of this post was about the supposed tactics the NRA is using to try to roll back the current NPS guidelines on carrying weapons in NPS units. Do we really need to re-hash all the same arguments again about whether the NPS has a right to have these guidelines in the first place and the dangers of allowing or not allowing guns in the parks?

On the topic of the NRA planting a mole into the NPCA, while this bothers me greatly, it doesn't shock me either. And I'm guessing that many associations that require the lobbying of Congress as well as fighting other groups in the mainstream media will use similar tactics to see what the "opposition" is planning. Unfortunately I wonder, in a situation like this, if the decisions will be made by who has the best lobbyists or who has the best organized grass-roots constituency. I wish it could be left up to the people, but it seems that's never the case these days.

The NRA has lost a lot of credibility over the years advocating gun as the ultimate freedom. Not so NRA. Not so. It continues.

Mookie, I agree with you. The NRA will milk the gun issue until your blue in the face...guns, bullets and profit! It's all about power and control. Whatever it takes win over an issue:lie, cheat, distort or give out misinformation, bad information or no information. These are the shrewd tactics of the NRA and these are not nice people were dealing with. Anyone who believes in these gun mongers that the National Parks will be safer, if we allow concealed hand guns to be implemented into law must be kidding themselves. Yes, we have extreme cases of sick violent crime in the National Parks but not at the wild level of hysteria that the NRA wants you to believe. It's all about right wing political football tactics (since it's election year) and it has nothing to do with bread and butter issues regarding the National Parks. It's a deliberate diversion tactic that separates us from the real true issues like: saving our natural heritage from the oil and cattle barons. It's all about rape and pillage of are natural resources for the multinational corporations and corrupt ideology.

There really is no rational discussing of this subject is there? Both sides are so polarized that any middle ground is unreachable. I love how both sides demonize the other. Well, the Supreme Court made their decision and self protection is a individual right not to be infringed upon by the government. Reasonable regulations are currently ok but will be contested in court. One day for good or ill the issue will be resolved within the constraints of our legal system but much like Roe V Wade will never be resolved in our society.

Legal concealed carry permit holders have passed background checks and received training on safe firearm procedures. With concealed carry, criminals, stalkers and thieves do not know who is armed. No one knows. I carry when legal to protect my family. When guns are banned, criminals are aware that their victims are defenseless. Cell phones don't work,and make individuals especially vulnerable in remote areas. There have been murders in a number of national parks where victims were selected because they were defenseless. National parks are places where legal concealed carry should be encouraged not feared.

Indeed the courts have spoken but not to the extent whereby the right of "self protection" extends beyond one's person residence, as stated clearly in the DC decision, and not, as others have tried erroneously to claim on this website, to the extent that your "personal residence" is inclusive or any temporary shelter you erect. You'll have a difficult time making a case that the justice's ruling, paraphrasing here, carries with it the intent of the law to include any and all structures inhabited by people as one's "residence". Before you go off on an emotional retort, consider these options and label them as residence or not: tree house, duck blind, tree/deer stand, ice cabin (also known as lake tent for those of you not familiar with the sport of ice fishing), lean to, ice cave (a most common occurrence on the shores of the Great Lakes from Dec-Feb), we can continue as long as you like. Please spare me the banter that they all qualify.......does anyone propose that there exists someone who lives with a duck blind as their mailing address?

Interesting also that the gun lobby claims that people with CCP's and the like will actually enhance my park experience, becoming my guardian angel should tough times arise. I thought this manner of vigilantism was exactly what we're trying to prevent? Self-protection, as stated within the 2nd Amendment does NOT give anyone the right to travel the land as judge, jury and executioner, under ANY circumstances. The last thing this country needs is a gun-toting mobile militia.........why not just become a bounty hunter if you're all geared up about protecting society? Or is that too dangerous for you?

I vehemently disagree with the notion that compromise is unattainable. But one side has to get over their superiority complex about protection of all mankind being their right, and the other side has to get beyond the fact that our nation will never be totally free from gun violence, be it criminal or accidental from legal ownership. The easy solution is to outlaw all firearms, whereby anyone in possession would automatically be identified as a criminal element, and subjected to all manner of cruel and unusual punishment just for being in possession, or even having one's fingerprints found on a weapon. But since we all agree that the simple solution is beyond our willingness to alleviate the overall problem of gun violence, we need to consider other alternatives. But concealed permit holders wandering the country in a 21st C manner akin to Old West posse or Southern lynch mob mentality justice doesn't fill the bill either. And that, we should all fear, is the hidden agenda of the NRA and their campaign of constant disinformation.

Hi Lone Hiker,
I believe you just made my point for me. Thanks, Bob

Why is the gun the issue and not drugs, alcohol, poverty, cars, knives, violent crime, etc.? Compromise is attainable if the issue is violence rather than a single method with which to exercise violence.
Crime includes numerous weapons beyond guns, and we will never eliminate weapons from the criminally inclined. Discuss the causes of violence and pose solutions to the cause and as I said compromise might be attainable. Frankly statistics just don't support the emotional out cry against legal ownership of a single vehicle of violent crime. Of course in a binary world YMMV.


The fact that millions of like minded citizens are armed while so many liberals are not makes me feel much more confident that my personal freedoms will be protected. I bet we would all like to ban something from the parks. I for one would like to ban the socially liberal estrogen rich guys on these posts who are so frightened of handguns. I know for a fact that would make my park experience much more pleasant.

Much better to have the drug dealers, rapists, and murderers armed in our
national parks and the law abiding public helpless to defend ourselves
against the threat. The criminals certainly prefer it this way, and since some
members of our government do to, they must also be criminals... but
I repeat myself.

Why? We're dealing with licensed CCL holders, a group historically proven to be more law-abiding and less violent than ANY similarly sized group in EVERY state that issues licenses.

Lone Hiker:

The Supreme Court decision also reaffirmed that the 2nd amendment is an Individual Right, (the more generalized and far reaching part of the ruling perhaps?) which is a more on the subject than the definition of 'residence' is in this case, in my opinion.

Another Voice for Freedom from Violence :

You can live in the world in terms of how you'd like to be, the rest of us will live in it as it is. Those more likely to have "devious schemes to undermine democracy" are those that yell "conspiracy" at every turn when individuals debate freely.

Watchdog: Show me the stats were CCL holders are "less violent" and more "law-abiding"...than any other group of the similar size...whatever that means.
Are stats put out by the NRA!?

Concealed carry license/permit holders have said licenses/permits because they're law abiding, and willing to go through a process to prove it (and capable of safely handling a firearm). The license/permit has to be renewed every few years with another round of background checks. And what's more, if a holder violates the law (by committing a felony or in most states a domestic violence offense of any kind felony or otherwise, and gets charged) the license/permit is revoked (I'd be willing to bet that a state outside one's jurisdiction with a reciprocity agreement if one's home state will report an felony arrest and very likely physically pull one's permit upon arrest). If the holder is acquitted, then any only then, do they get to ask for it to be reinstated or have it returned depending on jurisdiction.

In simpler terms, one or more offenses means no holding a license/permit to carry concealed, for life. I'd call that better odds, that a CCL/CCW holder is careful to abide by the law and think twice about loosing his or her cool with others, then the general population is, and therefore pretty safe grounds to assert that they are less violent and more law-abiding than other groups. If they commit one offense, they're not IN the group any more for life, not without proving their innocence (sometimes not even then and 'may issue' states, or by getting a pardon from a Governor or a President (the latter is not the most likely of outcomes).

The only state that I know of that allows residents to carry concealed without a license or permit and that does not have a license or permitting process should one wish to get one anyway is Vermont. I'm sure its a lovely state (never been there) but I doubt it throws off the stats much in terms of population figures.

Coming back to the article, I have to ask: Mother Jones? Really? Mother Jones is far, far left and was even edited by Michael Moore. This is hardly a neutral source, and I'm skeptical.

"Spying" seems a bit over the top, too, and using the word raises suspicion of paranoia. At any rate, the "spying" that is alleged to have occurred includes getting placed on mailing lists. If that's the case, then I guess I'm guilty of "spying" on the ANPR since I am a Second Amendment advocate and the ANPR seems so determined to deny citizens of their Second Amendment rights on federal land.

This seems a distraction by those on the far left from the real issue: Restoring constitutional protections to law-abiding citizens traveling and living in national parks.

For once the gunnies got a good one in. More of this needs to happen.

At least in California, the Bradyites have attempted to (sometimes with success) infiltrate local 2nd Amendment groups and regional NRA councils. So the "We're so shocked!" attitude by the antis, Bradys, etc. is much like the mutterings of a soccer mom suddenly found doing the day shift in a massage parlor.

In addition the antigunners often have government types in essence working for them. The Deputy AG for our Calif. Bureau of Firearms, Alison Merrilees, frequently communicates with/receives marching orders from Bryan Siebel of the Brady Campaign.
We were able to see how deeply she was involved by PRARing (roughly, the Calif version of FOIA) her communications. She's been able to use her legal status to (so far unsuccessfully) entangle CA firearms-politics websites like Calguns.

And for those worrying about "security" in National Parks, shouldn't you really be worried about the extensive illegal-alien-run methlabs and methheads out in the sticks with some lonely little wildlife-mgmt biology graduate forest ranger trying to keep a lid on things with something like a 50 sq mi coverage area?

Frankly, National parks are unsafe enough no one should visit them *without* a firearm handy.

Bill Wiese
San Jose CA

As FrankC observes: Mother Jones? Yes, they could conceivably produce useful information, but if one is serious about presenting a case, corroboration is going to be more than normally important.

If an information-gatherer is falsifying identies and committing fraud to gain access & acceptance, than that is the material her opponents want to find & document. And if the NRA can be shown facilitating actual offenses such as those, then detractors of the NRA have something useful to their cause.

Meanwhile, this is the Information Age, and those who ignore information are destined to end up where their opponents hope to put them.

For the most part, meaningful NRA operatives are 3-button suits, exactly as in the case of their liberal opposition. It's mainly a professional lawyer game, and I doubt either side is attracted to amateur or freelance agents. Since the two sides have been at each other's throats for many decades, any sustained pattern of melodramatic skulduggery would be old news & common knowledge.

While this discussion is entertaining I believe the matter of carrying concealed weapons in the National Parks has been settled in favor of those who want this right. Although there were 35,000+ public comments submitted (with about 95% of them in favor of adopting the new rule allowing concealed carry) I think the matter was really settled when a letter with the signatures of 51 U.S. Senators was sent to Secretary Kempthorne requesting the change.

The groups which opposed this change were doing what they thought was correct, and what their membership would expect them to do, but if any of the members of the various groups really thought there opposition was going to change the outcome they were politically naïve.

When you have a majority of the U.S. Senate signing a letter to a federal agency urging a change in policy the matters has been settled.

The discussion about “spying” with some expressing notions that doing so was something bizarre I found sophomoric at best. What could any of the groups who opposed this new rule be doing that was really “secret”?

Political Observer: Out of the 51 Senators that signed the rule change (to carry concealed handguns) were they Republicans...and who were these Senators? Was this a strict party line vote and "not bipartisan"?

There was a request for information on the 51 Senators who sent the letter.

The link below will take to you the U.S. Department of the Interior website where a copy of the letter is posted. You will probably need to paste the link into your browser--not sure if the link will be active on the page.

It is actually two letters--one with 47 Senators and then a follow-up with another letter with 4 Senators.

You will see that it is not all Republicans and even if it were the point remains the same--you have a majority of the U.S. Senate telling Interior to change the rule. The matter was settled when the letters reached Interior.


Political Observer: I see that the letter was written on December 14, 2007 (sometime ago) and after counting the votes: it was 37 Republican Senators to 7 Democratic Senators. It looks like a party line vote to me. I'm sure it's political pull since it's an election year. I thank you for the information. However, this letter vote does not persuade me to think differently that hand guns should be implemented into the National Parks as policy...nor implemented into its political arena. This vote only tells me that the NRA has wicked clot in politics for profound marketing reasons which is for greed and power. Please don't tell me differently! Again, I appreciate the information.

Look here people: the 2nd Amendment is a cornerstone right guaranteed by the Constitution and along with private property rights is at the very core of our freedom as citizens of this formerly grand republic. I am allowed to carry a gun in the state parks and forests where I reside and it should be no different in a national park unit (which my state has aplenty). What is the big deal? If the NPS rangers are allowed to carry them, then so should I. End of discussion.

Guns in the hands of law-biding citizens makes for a safer and freer society, whether they are carried in the heart of the city or along the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

People having guns just don't scare me. The more the merrier. People driving while talking on a cellphone now that's SCARY.