Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves

Interior Department officials finally did what was expected Friday when they published a rule change that will allow national park visitors to arm themselves.

In a decision that surely will delight some and surely disgust others, the Bush administration ignored all past living directors of the National Park Service, the Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Association of National Park Rangers, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the National Parks Conservation Association in deciding it would be OK for park visitors to carry weapons if they hold concealed weapons permits and the park they are in is located within a state that allows concealed carry.

“Once again, political leaders in the Bush administration have ignored the preferences of the American public by succumbing to political pressure, in this case generated by the National Rifle Association. This regulation will put visitors, employees and precious resources of the National Park System at risk. We will do everything possible to overturn it and return to a common-sense approach to guns in national parks that has been working for decades,” said Bill Wade, president of the retirees group.

The administration received almost 140,000 comments, the vast majority of which opposed the proposal to allow loaded guns in national parks.

The groups opposed to the rule change say the "final regulation is even more extreme than the administration’s original proposal, and permits concealed and loaded guns to be carried in national parks located in any states with concealed carry laws, not just those that allow guns in their state parks as originally proposed. Only the three national park units in Wisconsin and Illinois, which do not issue concealed carry permits, are excluded."

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 1.65 violent crimes per 100,000 national park visitors in 2006—making national parks some of the safest places in the United States. Those opposed to the rule change say the new regulation could increase the risk for impulse shootings of wildlife, and risk the safety of visitors and rangers.

Despite the potential affect on national park wildlife and resources, the administration did not conduct an environmental review as required by law, and some believe that opens the door for a lawsuit to halt the rule change.

“Land management agencies have worked diligently over the years to successfully create the different sets of expectations amongst the visiting public to reflect the differing levels of resource protections for each specific area,” said John Waterman, president of the Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. “National parks are different from other public lands. The visitor population expects, demands, and gets a higher degree of protection, enforcement, and restriction in a national park.

"Furthermore, while national parks are amongst the safest areas to be in, the toll on the U.S. Park Ranger is high: U.S. Park Rangers are the most assaulted federal officers in the country. This vague, wide-open regulation will only increase the danger U.S. Park Rangers face.”

In a letter sent to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne on April 3, 2008, seven former directors of the National Park Service said that there is no need to change the existing regulation. “In all our years with the National Park Service, we experienced very few instances in which this limited regulation created confusion or resistance,” the letter stated. “There is no evidence that any potential problems that one can imagine arising from the existing regulations might overwhelm the good they are known to do.”

At the Association of National Park Rangers, President Scot McElveen said “American citizens have traditionally valued the professional opinions of park rangers when it comes to managing national parks. In the professional opinion of ANPR, this regulation change will have negative impacts on park wildlife. Our experience in operating parks creates disbelief that wildlife poaching rates will not increase under the new regulation. We oppose this rash regulatory change.”

Echoing these concerns, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees last month released a report revealing that more than three out of four of 1,400 current and former employees of the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predict that this controversial regulation will have an adverse affect on the ability of agency employees to accomplish their mission. Furthermore, it found that 75 percent of respondents feel that there will be an increase in opportunistic or impulse wildlife killings in parks and refuges.

“With this decision, many state parks across the country will now provide a more protective environment for wildlife and visitors than national parks—once the safest place for families. Furthermore, this decision undermines the ability of national park professionals to manage the parks and runs counter to the overwhelming majority of Americans who wrote in opposition to allowing loaded firearms in our national parks,” said NPCA Associate Director for Park Uses Bryan Faehner.

Comments

Editor's note: Today's developments are certainly not surprising. The reaction from those in support of the regulation change and those against it is not surprising, either. However, please respect the opinions that are espoused, even if you do not agree with them, and do not resort to gratuitous attacks. As long as those two simple rules can be adhered to, the Traveler is interested in hearing what you have to say.

I have been a hunter and gun advocate all my life but could not disagree with this more. I see no need to carry a gun in a Nat Park. This can only lead to needless human and animal suffering. What can you expect from a lamme duck president like Bush.

Kurt, I thank you for the privilege of commenting on this site and am glad to see you taking a stand on ad hominem attacks. (I again apologize for falling prey to this trap in my earlier comments here.)

However, I don't believe that we should necessarily respect opinions. I've quoted Jonathan Rauch before, and here's a paragraph from Kindly Inquisitors that I have repeated for the last dozen years:

. . . only after an idea has survived checking is it deserving of respect. Not long ago, I heard an activist say at a public meeting that her opinion deserved at least respect. The audience gave her a big round of applause. But she and they had it backwards. Respect was the most, not the least, that she could have demanded for her opinion. Except insofar as an opinion earns its stripes in the science game, it is entitled to no respect whatever. The point matters, because respectability is the coin in which liberal science rewards ideas that are duly put up for checking and pass the test. You may not get rich being show to be right, you may not even become famous, and you almost certainly will not be loved, but you will be paid in the specie of respectability. That is why it is so important that creationists and alien-watchers and radical Afrocrentrists and white supremacists be granted every entitlement to speak but no entitlement to have their opinions respected. They should expect, if for any reason (including minority status) they refuse to submit their ideas for checking by public criticism, that their opinions will be ignored or ridiculed—and rightly so. Respect is no opinion’s birthright. People, yes, are entitled to a certain degree of basic respect by dint of being human. But to grant any such claim to ideas is to raid the treasury of science and throw its capital to the winds.

The U.S. is distinguished from the rest of the world in that its citizens have a lawful right to be armed in most places. We should value this privalege and freedom which so many under communism or oppressive governments and dictators do not have.

However, criminal acts are never condoned and should always be punished. And, criminals will be armed whether the law forbids it or not. So I see absolutely no deterent to crime by denying law-abiding citizens the right to be armed and protect themselves if the need arises. Should someone attempt to rob or hurt you in a national park, do you think the park rangers are going to prevent it?

Many citizens carry a firearm now when traveling, or camping. It only makes sense to take precautions when going out into sparsely populated and often desolate areas. Similar reasoning applies in not picking up hitchhikers, and locking your doors at night when at home. Why should one be defenseless when traveling? And, many who are vacationing stop in national parks along the way. Citizens certainly carry concealed weapons in their vehicles now, why not recognize their rights under the Constitution to do so in full light of the law?

I applaud the right and recognition of a citizen to carry a firearm in national and state parks.

Gene

Frustrating. But honestly, we saw it coming. The track record of this administration shows that it consistently pushes expert's views and the view of the public aside and yields to loud/powerful minorities.

Where is this going to take the parks? First, I agree that this rule change will eventually be reversed (perhaps it will follow a path similar to that of the Yellowstone Snowmobile debacle). However, before that happens people will be confused, wildlife will be unnecessarily killed, and rangers/employees in parks will face questionable and dangerous situations.

I have been a gun owner and licensed carrier since I was 18, when I turned 21 I became a police officer. I have visited many parks across our country over the years with my wife and kids. One comment I have shared with my wife was that I would like to have my gun with me when we are out on walks and just driving around the parks. I am away of the different issues that officals will face, but if I had my choice I would prefer to have my own protection with me at all times. If people are going to do illegal acts, a law will not prevent this action from happening wether it's one way or the other. As I have visited many parks, I have never seen a ranger on any of the trails and very few, probably no more than 3 the entire time I have been in the diffrent parks I have visited. I believe everyone should be able to protect themselves if the are responsible to due so. As with any firearm, I believe you shold be responsible in order to carry and follow all laws and regulations for the area you are in. If people want to poach they will, and if people want to carry in the parks, they will which I'm sure they have been already. We just need to be very responsible and punish the illegal actions of the criminals that shouldn't be carrying in the first place.

YES!!! It's about time that our citizenry's right to protect themselves doesn't end at the park gate!

I will definitely feel much safer now in the backcountry from predators...the 2-legged kind!
Thank you, President Bush for allowing us women more security and freedom to enjoy the parks...I never felt safe in campgrounds alone (a lot of weird people out there), let alone the backcountry! A tiny lady like myself could be so easily overpowered by some of the big guys I see on the trail. Now they will think twice, not knowing whether I am armed!

Yeeeeee haw! Ride 'em, cowboy, ride 'em! Was there ever any doubt but that this rule would be made by Bush & Co.? We will all remember Bush for many years to come. At least, I hope we all remember what he has done to this country!

"Despite the potential affect on national park wildlife and resources, the administration did not conduct an environmental review as required by law..."

I find it shameful but VERY typical of the Bush administration that officials at the DOI could care so little about respecting it's own established processes of examination. (Scientific fact-based review? Bad. Reactionary paranoid legislative decisions? Good.)
It's very clear why the administration has chosen this path yet again: to try and push a political agenda they clearly fear will have little support if the general public were to closely examine the issue. If it weren’t afraid of failing, why did it wait until now to put this law through? Once again the Bush administration blatantly ignores professional opinion (and for that matter the majority of public commentary) on an issue that effects us all in order to push a political agenda based on fear and paranoia. Absolutely shameful.

As for readers of this blog, if everyone here is such a great fan of The Bill of Rights, The Constitution, and the FULL legislative processes that have made our country so great, why are they not questioning the administration's disregard for the very laws and processes that help protect our public lands? So far, the published commentary here in favor of this new radical gun decision seems NOT to mention the administration's continual blatant disregard for established legislative procedure. How come??

The issue of environmental impact should be utmost in every legislative and procedural change that effects our public lands, especially our National Parks. Unfortunately, gun rights advocates conveniently have chosen to ignore this aspect of legal process so as to serve their own political agenda.
Gun rights advocates need to question the administration's motives in ignoring this crucial part of the process, for the administration had to realize it would be appealed (and most likely overturned) BECAUSE it ignored this part of the process. So one could infer that the DOI, Secretary Kempthorne, and President Bush knowingly pushed through this lame-duck decision to purposely appease the NRA and it’s more vocal supporters. But you must all realize that the current administration really has no interest in any rule, law, or short-term decision that will not improve it’s own public approval rating, even if it only lasts for the next 4 weeks.

Scientific logic dictates that more guns (or more of ANYTHING) in the National Parks will have an environmental impact which must be thoroughly examined before any final decisions are made. If you truly love these national treasures, why not fully support the laws and procedures created to protect them for us and for future generations?

As for the illusion of safety that carrying a loaded weapon will allegedly provide visitors to our National Parks, I personally will now feel very UNSAFE in my local national park knowing that the unfamiliar face walking towards me on the trail could potentially harm me with a firearm if they felt "threatened" by me in some way. I go to parks to create the illusion that I am getting away from the threat that firearms pose to my own personal safety in the outside world. The two legged predators I fear are the ones carrying loaded guns, ready to shoot off a self-justified round or two at a moments' notice.
I have yet to read any justification for carrying a loaded weapon in a National Park that does not mention some aspect of personal fear, or a libertarian argument about personal rights. Can someone please explain why I should support this new law without using the vocabulary of fear and anarchistic lbertarianism?

Gun rights advocates also continually ignore the secret undercurrents of this issue that the Bush administration is certainly well aware of: The roots of contemporary gun rights arguments that are based in 18th and 19th century ideas of classism, oppression, and racism.
As a society, let’s finally put these aspects of this issue on the table and have a REAL debate about gun rights that truthfully examine why the dialectic of fear is still so prevalent in personal gun rights issues.
But please, keep your guns locked up in your safe at home while we bring this debate to light, and please please please keep them out of public parks.
They just don’t belong there.

The need to keep a loaded gun on your person at all times in order to feel like a righteous citizen is an issue for yourself to examine and decide on, but do you need to force that personal ideal on me while I’m trying to look at birds in the forest??

I live on the olympic penninsula in the state of Washington if you look at a map this is 80% national park, all mountains. We hike and camp this park all the time, over 1 million acres. I also have a carry permet for the state of Washington and I am very happy about the new ruleing to allow me to protect my family and myself. In the past, Washington state has had some trouble in our parks by NONE law abiding people, I will feel much more at ease when I meet someone or something on the trail 20 miles in the back country now. I think that this is one for the law abiding citizens. I would just like to thank President Bush for opening his eyes to this. I use to only carry70% of the time, now I can carry 100% of the time, it's like a cell phone or wrist watch I'll never leave home without it!

I am so sorry to see this ruling come about. I have hiked and backpacked in parks for years and felt safe. This is a most unfortunate turn of events and to be expected from an outgoing president. Carrying a firearme does not mean you won't be overpowered by two legged predators. It may mean the gain access and use it on you. I do not look forward to seeing bullet holes in signs and structures all over the park.

I think the following quotations on fear are appropriate, because in strongly felt beliefs, such as those that this issue is based in, are often based in fear.

"In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly."
---- Coleridge

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear."
--- H.P. Lovecraft

"One of the things which danger does to you after a time is -, well, to kill emotion. I don't think I shall ever feel anything again except fear. None of us can hate anymore - or love."
---- Graham Greene - The Confidential Agent (1939)

"What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope."
---- Publilius Syrus - Moral Sayings (1st C B.C.

Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it."
---- Lt. John B. Putnam Jr. (1921-1944)

"Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is."
---- German Proverb

"Fear is a tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack, more potent than the snake."
---- Edgar Wallace - The Clue of the Twisted Candle (1916)

"Fear - jealousy - money - revenge - and protecting someone you love."
---- Frederick Knott - Max Halliday, listing the five important motives for murder, Dial M for Murder (1952)

"What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!"
---- Wordsworth

"The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - "
---- FDR - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Anonymous: Excellent quotes selected! That's exactly what the NRA platform is built on--plain FEAR with a touch of PARANOIA to blend!

YES, NOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF FROM ALL THOSE FAMILIES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS. PARENTS AND CHILDREN ARE VERY DANGEROUS!!!!!!! I HOPE THIS IS OVERTURNED AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!

The dangerous, armed gun nuts we fear are already in the parks. Thinking otherwise is fooling yourself. This law doesn't change the inherit danger of guns in the park. People who follow the rules re: concealed weapons permits are not the folks we should be afraid of, it's the whack-nuts who already bring concealed weapons in the parks in some form or another.

I see no added risk by this ruling.

========================================================================

My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

If you pay attention to the text, those allowed to carry a weapon into the park are only those who are already permitted to carry a Concealed Weapon. For whatever the reason they are permitted to carry, whether it be a threat to their themselves or their families or for professional responsibilities. The reason for those individuals carrying a concealed weapon don't end at the park gate. If they have been able to prove their need for a concealed weapon, they should be allowed to carry it at all times. Those "two-legged" predators referred to above don't care about the law and those intent on wrong-doing or harming others certainly don't leave their guns at the gate just because the law says they can't carry a weapon in the park. If folks thought they were safe from the criminal type just because they were inside the boundaries of a National Park, they were being naiive...very naiive.

In my opinion this law does little to change the activity that has been going on for years. Our National Parks often include some of the most remote terrain in the U.S. and law enforcement is not just a phone call away. We are not carriers of concealed weapons and won't be carrying, but it does not bother us in the least that licensed individuals will be.

I find those quotes perfect, but for a different reason than the above. Those who fear people who have concealed carry permits fit the quotes to the T. In most states you have to go through a thorough background check and training to get a permit. The ones people should be afraid(maybe catious is a better word) of are the crimanls who don't have permits. They don't get permits because they don't care about the laws, hence the name lawbreakers. If you beleive the people with permits are going to shoot up signs and wildlife, you are wrong. These are trained, safe civilians with healthy respect for the law, otherwise they wouldn't have the permit.

Wow, this is really disappointing -- and unnecessary! I guess we'll have to see whether this changes the character of the parks in the coming months and years. Thanks for the update. Love your blog and the quizzes, too!

http://traveltelegraph.blogspot.com/
Emily

Kurt said,

"Despite the potential affect on national park wildlife and resources, the administration did not conduct an environmental review as required by law, and some believe that opens the door for a lawsuit to halt the rule change:

Tell me how your claim is more legally relevant than what Interior (legal staff) has concluded:

"...we have analyzed the final rule under NEPA and concluded that (i) the action is subject to a categorical exclusion under 43 C.F.R. § 46.210 since the final regulation is in the nature of a legal change to existing regulations, and (ii) no "extraordinary circumstances" exist which would prevent the proposed action from being classified as categorically excluded. !d. This decision is fully described in our decision 17
document dated November 18, 2008, which is available to the public at http://www.doi.gov/."

I'm not surprised that the anti gun comments here are still the stereotypical, bigoted, disparaging, emotional/hysterical, illogical, personal opinions that completely ignore fact, Constitutional law (see Supreme Court Heller decision), 40 states' successful right-to-carry legislation and, essentially, have absolutely no merit or basis in truth.

Read the Interior Department documents that Lone Hiker has provided the link to above.

Kurt, you claim, "The administration received almost 140,000 comments, the vast majority of which opposed the proposal to allow loaded guns in national parks." Could you please provide data to support this?

Again, why don't any of the smug, holier-than-thou anti-gun posts express a single similar hissy fit concerning the criminals who are everywhere and who are actually committing the crimes?

Rick

Good blog! Been following this subject and glad common sense prevailed. Concealed weapons pemit holders are trained and have undergone a thorough background check. Obviously some of the writers here are just plain ignorant. I didn't say stupid, just ignorant. Remember, when seconds count ........ the ranger is just a phone call away. Oh yeah, your cell phone may not work, huh? Try prayer or Smith & Wesson.

Rick, I've been wondering where you've been lurking! I'm kinda disappointed with your comment, as I thought I did a fairly good job of sticking to the middle of the road on reporting Interior's decision.

Now, I'm not an attorney, so I can't give you 100 percent, iron-clad feedback to your questions, but there are a couple openings that I think park advocates will try to take in challenging this. One is that the rule came out less than 60 days out from the change in administrations, so the Obama administration -- if it were so inclined, and I don't know if it is, despite what Fred believes -- might simply try to quash this rule.

The outgoing Bush administration might think it doesn't need that 60-day window, as it doesn't believe there's a $100 million impact related to this decision and so 30 days notice is good enough.

What might prove more important, though, and what the park advocates might concentrate on, is suing on the grounds that Interior didn't follow NEPA in promulgating this rule. If they do, and they're successful, the rule will very likely die a slow, withering death. Until the political power shifts once again.

I think relying simply on what DOI's legal staff has concluded is a waste of time, particularly when you consider how the Justice Department has operated in recent years. And don't forget, it was a bit more than eight years ago when DOI's legal staff concluded that snowmobiles should be phased out of Yellowstone, and you know where that got us.

As for your contention that "the anti-gun comments here are still the stereotypical, bigoted, disparaging, emotional/hysterical, illogical, personal opinions," come on, read some of the pro-gun opinions. Some are off the wall. As for the Heller decision, correct me if I'm wrong (as I know you will), but didn't that opinion hold that the 2nd amendment most definitely applies to you in your home, but the federal government has the right to institute reasonable controls elsewhere in society?

If that is the correct interpretation (and I think it is), what would be your reaction if the next administration instituted such controls in the national parks? That's it's unconstitutional? That you'll pack wherever you please?

As for how the bulk of the comments came down, my information is from NPCA, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Association for National Park Rangers, and the Park Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. But I understand if you quibble with their counts. But then, it doesn't really matter, does it? After all, a majority of the 300,000+ comments filed in the Yellowstone snowmobile matter were for phasing out snowmobiles, and Interior officials ignored those comments as well (and went against what science recommended), so it seems that under the Bush administration democracy doesn't matter when it comes to public lands management.

And really, is this a personal safety issue? As noted above, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 1.65 violent crimes per 100,000 national park visitors in 2006. 1.65, Rick.

Some perspective:

* The U.S. murder rate is 5.9 per 100,000

* In 2007 more than 41,000 died in traffic accidents in the United States

* 36,000 Americans die from the flu annually

* 112,000 die from obesity

In light of that, will concealed weapons owners refuse to drive cars? Line up for flu shots? Go on a diet? Kinda seems the safest place they could be would be a national park.

So much vitriol is spewed -- much of it anonymously, which is somewhat curious -- on this issue. Don't we have better things to invest our time, emotion, and efforts on?

Rick:

This current administration is masterful at manipulating legalese to justify it's own agenda. What a shame that you can't see through the DOI's wordy smokescreen. Or perhaps you don't mind how manipulative the Bush administration has become in it's final days because you happen to agree with this particular decision.

Again I ask, if this new rule is so necessary, why did the administration wait until late in it's own game to push it through? Because they know that the vast majority of elected officials and the general public don't want it and would not support it. Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but doesn't majority opinion rule in a democracy?

If this tangential extrapolation of the Second Amendment is so necessary, why did our Commander-In-Chief and his political appointees at the DOI publish this rule change in such a cowardly way? They published it on a Friday, when most folks turn off the news, during the last month of their reign of power, when the country is now focused on the incoming administration.

Why aren't the supporters of this rule change asking the Bush administration why it waited so long to make this change???
I guess when we win the game, asking how honestly we come by our spoils sometimes shines too harsh a light on the process...

Why not let trained professionals handle "the criminals who are everywhere" and keep our personal guns at home?
I have been visiting national, state, and town parks my entire life. I have visited historic sites in small towns, and large urban parks in the largest cities in our country. And not once have I ever fallen victim to "the criminals who are everywhere".
(But I have been the victim of violent crime, right outside my own home, not in a national park... more on that later...)
It's interesting that the only "criminals" I have ever been aware of are visitors who have chosen to ignore established resource protection and safety rules because they felt their "personal rights" were in some way being violated if they couldn't walk wherever they wanted to walk, or do whatever they wanted to do, regardless of the fact that they implicitly agreed to said regulations when they entered the parks' boundaries.
I've seen visitors ignore posted warnings and go off trail into environmentally fragile areas. I've seen campers bring alcohol into campgrounds that do not allow it. I've seen other violations of established rules and regulations...
and EVERY time I've seen those people questioned by rangers or law enforcement they become argumentative and self-righteous about their actions. Could you just imagine if one of those people had a loaded gun? I shudder to think about the possibilities if the visitor with the loaded gun is having a bad week, suffering some stress, had a little too much to drink... and decides his gun is the best way to resolve the situation between himself and the ranger. I go to parks to get away from that level of human possibility...
Rather than waiting for the day you feel it necessary to defend yourself with your loaded firearm, why not become a law enforcement professional yourself and handle the folks "who are actually committing the crimes" in a lawful and professional manner?
And if you are unhappy with the current level of trained law enforcement within our National Parks, then I would suggest you lobby your elected officials to increase the budget of what has become the most woefully underfunded Federal agency.
A larger law enforcement budget that pays trained professionals to handle the marauding swarms of criminals that have apparently overrun our National Parks seems like a good way to handle the perceived safety problem. I trust law enforcement. Why don't you?

Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime? As I mentioned earlier I have. It occurred on the street right outside my own home. Before the crime I never once expected police to be everywhere every moment of the day to protect me, and after the crime I've never once felt that a loaded handgun would have made the situation any different.
Most acts of violence, whether they be random or pre-meditated, are over in seconds, barely enough time to think about defending oneself. Having a loaded gun at the ready wouldn't really be more effective in defending oneself in that split-second of happening than using a fist, or the rocks underfoot on the trail, or a tree branch, or just running away. So I ask you: is carrying a loaded gun about self-defense, the perception of personal safety, or an unconscious hope that someday one might get to righteously use the loaded weapon he so proudly carries?

Most folks in favor of this rule change seem to only want to discuss the personal rights aspect of the issue. Fine. (I understand the argument: I personally feel that every citizen should exercise their right to vote lest it be taken away from us.)
For the record, just because I don't believe personal weapons are necessary when visiting a National Park does not mean I am against our legal right to own a gun. But our right to own a gun does not logically imply we have the right to take it wherever we want to, whenever we want to. ANY other belief to the contrary starts us down the slippery slope of anarchy. Is that what we're after here?

If not being allowed to carry a loaded weapon on my person at all times means I will not fully enjoy my time spent in a National Park because I just can't stop thinking about how my personal rights are being violated, perhaps I should examine why I feel the need to take a loaded weapon into the parks in the first place.
While we figure this out for ourselves, let's keep our guns at home where they belong.

Slant numbers and use big words to confuse, but if your life comes down to being accousted on the trail or in your camp by a two or four footed animal(s), it doesn't make any difference, there is not ranger. Period! Bottom line!!! They are there to take a report and in my case the next day. I understand that. Incidentally, no need to shoot any wildlife unless they are rabid! It happens. About 8 times a year and rarely results in human death because someone has a gun. These aren't all nat'l park incidents. I read a lot and don't record everything.

Lot of crime in nat'l parks though. Don't won't the publc to know of course. I go to our nat'l parks to get away, but not to be victimized. Never mind the people that have no idea wha is going on around them. I'm a medical professional and carry a 22 pound first aid bag. My radio & pistol pouch is much lighter. I migh save your life!!!

This isn't about the perception of personal safety; it's about the Constitution. I won't repeat those arguments here again, but think the following rewording of Kurt's argument is equally, if oppositely, important:

And really, is this a wildlife safety issue? As noted elsewhere in my comments, the NPS does not keep nationwide statistics on poaching.

Some perspective:

* Millions of animals are killed each year by automobiles.

* Some animals hit and killed by automobiles are endangered species.

* 45,000 people die a year from automobile accidents.

In light of that, will the anti-Second Amendment crowd refuse to drive cars in national parks?

The inalienable right to defend one's self is inherent to All Living Things humans included.
Would you outlaw a kittens claws until it has demonstrated it's restraint in their use ?
Would you outlaw the thorns on an Acacia tree until it reaches the age of maturity ?
How far will you let your fear of " fill in the blank " run your life ?
Why do you think your fears give you the right to try to run everyone's life ?

The fact that We the People LET our elected officials violate the "Law of the Land" without consequences is how we find ourselves in the ridiculous situation we are in today.
Those who suggest that removing all of the [unconstitutional BTW] gun laws would result in a general blood bath are simply publicly stating that they Do Not Trust Any Other Human Being.
We don't need outside terrorists we have our own trying to foist their fears off on all of the population.

"Remove guns and we will all be safe." Hooey.
Do you actually think it is a coincidence that nearly all of the mass shootings we have had have happened in "Gun Free Zones" ?
Do you not realize that "professional criminals" do not follow any laws let alone the illegal "gun laws" ?

I would like to see Open Carry become as common place as shoes in restaurants.

(Note to those readers who do not like big words: you will not like this post, there are some big words in here.)

Frank,

There are already parks where personal vehicles are not allowed. That being one of the rules of entry, visitors respect that.
It would be interesting to hear statistics on how many personal rights advocates per year insist on driving their cars where they are not allowed. Might we find a loaded concealed weapon or two in their vehicles as well?
The NPS could restrict cars from every park and I wouldn't care, as long as some provision for access was available to visitors. In fact, from a resource protection perspective a ban on personal motorized vehicles might be a very good thing.

You see Frank, I put my trust in the decision makers of the NPS when I feel they are making decisions consistent with their mission. And I, like you, voice my concerns when I think the rules are unnecessary or restrictive in some way. But I balance my personal rights against the greater mission and needs of the greater good when making those personal choices.
Large organizations, private and public, do not threaten me. Rules that might restrict my actions in some way do not automatically make the rule makers tyrants in my eyes. But that's just how I personally view the world.

Why, if I am opposed to carrying loaded personal weapons in National Parks, am I anti-Second Amendment?

When it comes right down to the nitty gritty Frank, I am not anti anything. Sure, I do enjoy the debating aspect of an issue like this. But will I ever personally own and carry a loaded hand gun? Probably not. Do I really care if you do? No.
I just don't feel the need to question the NPS on it's ban on personal firearms because I can see the larger picture and respect the decision making process they used when making the decision.

In relation to interpreting The Bill of Rights and The Constitution I believe that contemporary circumstances and needs must be part of the discussion and decision making process. I do not think our founding fathers expected interpretation of these great documents to forever remain within a 19th century perspective.
But the debate will forever be muddled by that nasty little prefatory clause at the beginning of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..."
I get confused by this statement, because individual visitors carrying their own personal loaded weapons, wherever and whenever they please, looks to me like thousands of one-person militias marching around all over the place in search of a tyrant to battle.
Is your intent that they will all get together and create one big militia inside the Parks? Why is the militia meeting in a National Park? I just don't understand...

The NPS wisely stays away from this muddy debate as well, focusing on the resource protection aspect of the issue which the DOI and the Bush administration chose to ignore when writing the rule. And there is no denying that the administration chose this course of action in a last ditch effort to appease the NRA and other organizations that could possibly increase the Republican vote in the next election.

Again I am asking: will someone that supports this new rule please tell me why they are not happy with the Bush administration for waiting until the final hour to publish this rule? Why does no one find this suspect?
To me the silence on this question smacks of the naughty boy in the back of the class, shooting spitballs, but getting away with it because the teacher never catches him. But that's just me.

Capt:

The Second Amendment states:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

militia: noun
- a military force that is raised form the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
- a military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities, typically in opposition to a regular army.
- all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service.

SO... personal arms are necessary in the event that a civilian militia is needed to SUPPLEMENT a REGULAR ARMY in an EMERGENCY,
OR... personal arms are necessary if the INTENT is to gather and create TERRORIST opposition to an ARMY,
OR... personal arms may be seen as a definer of the able-bodied, READY FOR MILITARY SERVICE if called,
AND... the government needs us to use our personal Arms.

In the framework of the Amendment itself, our right to keep and bear Arms is given IN THE EVENT that a civilian militia becomes necessary. It DOES NOT provide us the right to form our own individual one-man militias, always at the ready for any perceived threat to our own PERSONAL safety.
Every definition of the word "militia" within the framework of the way the Second Amendment is worded relates specifically to assisting an established Army. When have you EVER in all your visits to a National Park been called upon to, on the spot, defend the State, i.e. The United States of America, against an army invading the park you are visiting at the time? For that matter, when ever in your life have you ever been called upon to use your personal Arms to, on the spot, defend your country?

How, in any way, does the Second Amendment, and the dictionary definition of the word "militia", give us the right to carry our loaded Arms wherever we please? IT DOES NOT.
The Second Amendment does not refer to 21st century fears of two-legged predators lurking behind every tree and boulder, waiting to give us an opportunity to defend ourselves against attacks on our PERSONAL safety. It refers to our ability to assist the established Army if called upon to do so.

I do not know if this argument has already been brought up, either here or in another post, and I apologize if it has, but I fear that this policy change may result in an increased risk to the average person. I am not saying that every Park visitor is now going to be carrying a gun, but I would think it is safe to assume that the incidence is going to go up; and with that perceived increase in a sense of security, we will see an increased amount of visitors venturing into the backcountry, many of whom don't have any right being there, because of either a lack of basic backcountry knowledge or skill.

Now before I get hammered for being some kind of rugged elitist, I want to state that I count myself in the aforementioned group of people that shouldn't be out there. I'm very 'Bear Aware', but have no practical experience, and I know my limits. But anymore it seems that I'm in the minority in that regards. I fear that people will view their firearms as a tool to keep themselves out of harms way, much like many do with their cell phones (a topic for another post), and put themselves into situations where they shouldn't have been in the first place.

I will admit that a gun would help protect the wielder from many a small or mid-sized animal that one would happen to run afoul of while hiking/camping, due to any number of reasons. But these small or mid-sized animals don't really pose much of a threat to people. When startled, if not cornered, they will run the other way. It's the larger animals that you need to be concerned with, such as a black/brown bear or mountain lion. And since I'm talking about the average person, who would most likely not be carrying a high powered rifle or comparable weapon, but something smaller that would not pack the requisite stopping power, I feel that they will have unnecessarily put themselves in harms way. I'll let you figure out how the confrontation would end.

All that being said, I'm as tired as the next guy of the federal government continuously interceding and limiting the number of ways that we can hurt ourselves. I grew up with way less legislative restriction and regulation and I turned out just fine. But I can't see any reason to have changed the old law in this case, of having the firearm separated and cased. If you wanted or needed your firearm, you still had it at your disposal. But that's it too. When visiting a National Park you shouldn't need a firearm to begin with. If you don't have the background, then you stay in the frontcountry and you'll be fine. If you have the know-how and venture into the backcountry, then again you should be fine.

Maybe you will find this as too simplified view, but this is a simple world that we live in. That is until politics and political views get in the way. Or at least it should be.

Warren Z said, "Again I am asking: will someone that supports this new rule please tell me why they are not happy with the Bush administration for waiting until the final hour to publish this rule?"

Actually, this rule change has been a LONG time coming, and it is LONG overdue. There has been a LOT of foot-dragging. I quote this tiny tidbit of information. Please note the date (2003):

"Starting in 2003, NRA staff began meeting with officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior to change this regulation and allow state law to govern the carrying and transportation of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges -- as it does in national forests and on BLM lands."

Warren Z

Where in what I posted above did I even slightly refer to the Second Amendment ? Or to any Law written by the hand of Man ?
I wrote only of inherent inalienable rights granted at birth by the Natural Laws of Life.

To a trained person the elbow or heel of the palm can be just as deadly as any fire arm made. Keep in mind there is only ONE level of dead. Shall we outlaw Elbows ? Hands ? Feet ? Knuckles ?

I do not use or need any legal writings or hocus pocus to justify my carrying Any Means of self defense that I so chose. If I chose to defend myself with an all metal ball point pen in my hand, a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol or with the jawbone of an Ass then that is my choice isn't it ?

How does my choice of defense tool even touch your life at all ?
Where did you get the idea that you have all the answers and that we should all believe the way you think is correct ?

When did the Bill of Rights become a listing of Rights allowed by Government rather than the listing of restrictions ON Government that it was written to be ?

I do not need the Second Amendment to hide behind. I Will defend my life as I see fit your opinions and laws notwithstanding.

Take some Personal Responsibility, Sirrah.

Toothdoctor makes an excellent point above on the risks of relying on a handgun for defense against a bear attack - although the risk of such attacks is extremely rare. I commend toothdoctor's excellent analysis of the "wildlife threat" and a proper response.

This point is so important to the safety of anyone visiting parks in bear country that I'll repeat below information I posted on a separate thread on Traveler on the subject of guns. (I'll ask for the indulgence of any of you who have read the other thread as well.)

If you're really concerned about a bear attack, here are two suggestions: (1) educate yourself about proper outdoor behavior to avoid most problems with bears in the first place; (2) keep your handgun in a safe place and carry and know how to use bear pepper spray for the rare cases when defensive measures are needed.

An excellent summary of the subject is found in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service article, "Bear Spray vs. Bullets - Which Offers Better Protection?" The full text is found at this link, but here's an excerpt:

"When it comes to self defense against grizzly bears, the answer is not as obvious as it may seem. In fact, experienced hunters are surprised to find that despite the use of firearms against a charging bear, they were attacked and badly hurt. Evidence of human-bear encounters even suggests that shooting a bear can escalate the seriousness of an attack, while encounters where firearms are not used are less likely to result in injury or death of the human or the bear. While firearms can kill a bear, can a bullet kill quickly enough -- and can the shooter be accurate enough -- to prevent a dangerous, even fatal, attack?"

"The question is not one of marksmanship or clear thinking in the face of a growling bear, for even a skilled marksman with steady nerves may have a slim chance of deterring a bear attack with a gun. Law enforcement agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have experience that supports this reality -- based on their investigations of human-bear encounters since 1992, persons encountering grizzlies and defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries....a person’s chance of incurring serious injury from a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used." [Emphasis added is mine.]

"Awareness of bear behavior is the key to mitigating potential danger. Detecting signs of a bear and avoiding interaction, or understanding defensive bear behaviors, like bluff charges, are the best ways of escaping injury."

If this rule change for guns holds up, it would be both tragic and ironic if it leads to people being killed or injured in an extremely rare bear attack, simply because they used a handgun in a situation where it is not the safe or appropriate response.

I realize I won't change the minds of people who are concerned about all those supposed "2-legged" predators in parks, but I sincerely hope those who are determined to carry a weapon will educate themselves about the proper response to a bear attack. Those concealable handguns are not the best answer in those cases!

How many people carry a concealed weapons permit? I can't quote that statistic but I am sure some better informed blogger than me can. That's who we are talking about. It is a very small percentage of the population. Those who illegally carry weapons into a national park will continue to do so, just as they have always done. Now, a small fraction of the population can legally carry a weapon into the park. Those with permits are not the ones assaulting park rangers. And, as quoted in Kurt's article, U.S. Park rangers are some of the most assaulted federal law enforcement officers in the country. If someone is brazen enough to assault a law enforcemnt official in a National Park, why do some of the bloggers pretend as though it couldn't happen to your average park visitor? Do you think concealed weapons permit holders are the ones assaulting park rangers?

From all of debate, one would think we are going to see throngs of armed park visitors. Let's keep it in perspective. Those with permits are trained, conscientious individuals issued a permit for a specific reason. And, as said earlier, those carrying concealed weapons carry them because of professional responsibilities and/or due to human threat. I seriously doubt many permits have been requested to protect against bear attacks in the back country. Nor do people bother to get concealed weapon permit to randomly and malicously shoot wildlife.

As far as the Bush administration actions go, why not now? He has a few weeks to take care of unfinished business. He needs to get some of it done.

I spent almost 20 years as a National Park Ranger in the Protection Division. I can not imagine going into a National Park Service Area and not having a firearm to protect myself and my family.
I have seen too much to believe that the Rangers can always be there to protect me and mine from the predators that are in the parks, both two and four legged....
For those who say that "Blood will Run in the Parks" it already is, just read the morning report...
.
I applaud the common sense ruling by Interior

Capt:
The Natural Laws of Life? As in the Book of Genesis? As in Laws derived from personal idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible?
I thought we were talking about the United Sates of America, in which separation of Church and State is one of the guiding principles our society is built upon.

Anonymous National Park Ranger:
Thank you for your years of service. I'm glad that, in all the years I have been visiting National Parks, I personally have never encountered ANY "predator". Of course, I visit the parks in a very conscious and aware manner; doing so I feel has kept me safe, without ever feeling the need to carry any method of personal defense. And if I am to be the sudden victim of attack, I doubt there is anything I could use in defense that would have PREVENTED the attack.

No doubt this is one of those issues that is deeply felt by most citizens. And I suspect this will remain one of those issues central to our Democracy that will never be finally decided to every citizens' satisfaction. I like every poster here wishes only the best outcome of every legislative decision made by the administration.

I find all these responses very biased and so off the point it is unbelieveable. The point is, if the state in which the national land is located has concealed weapon law(s) then state law applies. Why then can't someone who is legally licensed to carry a weapon in a car, in an RV, walking on the street, having a picnic in a local or state park not be permitted to carry a gun in a Nationall Park? If states believe a citizen can legally carry a gun on state property then why all the uproar about carrying a a gun in a National Park? If a state feels concealed gun laws are inappropriate then they can change them.

For all you who are against guns, gun ownership, and a fear that everyone now entering a National Park are at a significantly higher risk of being killed or maimed get a life! Better yet, don't go the parks and that will make more room for us who do not have the fear that you do. I can now see a new money making scheme for the National Parks...they can sell life/accident insurance for those who fear for their lives when entering a National Park!

By the way...this is the same policy that has been followed by the BLM and USFS and things seem to be going well there.

Kurt: “Rick, I've been wondering where you've been lurking!”

Well life has been a bit distracting lately but I’m still around. We just got Pennsylvania’s Legislature to eliminate an illegal departmental restriction on concealed carry in state parks. For now, back to the national parks!

To put things into some historical perspective, Article 1 Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution reads, “ The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” That’s clear and unambiguous. This Article was used as a model for the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The recent Heller Supreme Court decision finally codified what we have been saying all along (and that more than 40 other Supreme Court cases acknowledged), that the Second Amendment guarantees and INDIVIDUAL right to keep and bear arms. None of this silly “national guard” only stuff. The majority of states long ago legislated that to extend beyond just the home and to include concealed carry.

Quasi intellectuals are always quick to dismiss this concept as macho silliness and revile anyone who espouses the inherent value of self-reliance and of an armed citizenry. To them anyone who carries a gun is merely a Dodge City Neanderthal.

The truth is these quasi intellectuals are the ones with the inherently flawed argument: “I don’t need to carry a gun, that’s why the police are there.” The problem for them is the police are under no legal obligation to protect anyone and it’s so arrogant and self-aggrandizing to assume that someone should risk their life to save yours when you refuse to assume responsibility for your own safety.

The Kumbaya Krowd are in major denial when it comes to the Real World ™. Simply being kind and loving to people and propounding peacnik niceties doesn’t do you a whit of good when the feces hit the rotating ventilation system. Evil exists and evil will persist regardless of your lame attempts to wish it away. You have something and someone else will want it and they will take it.

A well-known firearms trainer named Col. Jeff Cooper devised a “coding” system to assist those individuals who did take responsibility for their own safety. The system started at Code White and progressed though Code Red. See where your situational awareness fits in:

White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me."

Yellow - Relaxed alertness. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says "I am alert." You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you must be in yellow. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "I thought this might happen some day." You can live in this state indefinitely.

Orange - Specific alert. Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing. Something is "wrong" with a person or object. Something may happen. Your mindset is that "I may have to shoot that person." Your pistol is usually holstered in this state. You can maintain this state for several hours with ease, or a day or so with effort.

Red - Fight trigger. This is your mental trigger. "If that person does "x" I will shoot them." Your pistol may, but not necessarily, be in your hand.

The Kumbaya Krowd is constantly operating under Code White because their view of the world is that everyone will be nice to them because they’re so polite themselves. This is how you get into dangerous situations.

But if we’re in one of those Gardens of Eden we call national parks we certainly won’t face danger, right? Of course not. That’s why we have park rangers. They’ll protect us. If there are crimes they only happen to people who weren’t nice to someone. This thinking is also how you become part of that 1.65 in 100,000 violent crime victims.

Kurt: “… The outgoing Bush administration might think it doesn't need that 60-day window, as it doesn't believe there's a $100 million impact related to this decision and so 30 days notice is good enough.”

That there would be a hundred million dollar impact as a result of this regulation I think is absurd. How can you conclude that allowing someone to possess something across the street in a park can actually cost something? This hasn’t happened in 40 states that enacted right-to-carry laws – outside of or across the street from parks – and it simply doesn’t compute here. If anything it will cost the parks less because there will be less crime. That’s been proven. So there will actually be a net benefit to the park system instead of your imaginary cost. Or are you implying Interior will invest a hundred million in some form of security measures to defend against those crazed hoards of Second Amendment wackos? That’s crazy.

Kurt: “What might prove more important, though, and what the park advocates might concentrate on, is suing on the grounds that Interior didn't follow NEPA in promulgating this rule. If they do, and they're successful, the rule will very likely die a slow, withering death. Until the political power shifts once again.”

Let Obama try to overturn it. Talk about the feces hitting the rotating ventilation device. That’d be the dumbest thing he could do out of the gate. He’s tried to position himself through his campaign as a “friend” of the Second Amendment. Everyone knows he’s a gun-grabber from the get-go and never saw a gun ban he didn’t like. When he starts that putrid talk about “supporting sportsmen’s rights” and claiming to acknowledge Second Amendment individual rights you might as well put an Elmer Fud hat on him for a photo-op. He’s as disingenuous as the Brady Bunch or any of the current top Democrat leadership. You think gun sales are up now? Wait ‘til he signals he’s interested in gun control legislation fed to him by his Demo cronies.

Kurt: “I think relying simply on what DOI's legal staff has concluded is a waste of time.”

Ehhhhhh, Idunno, Kurt. we’ll see.

Kurt: “ As for the Heller decision, correct me if I'm wrong (as I know you will), but didn't that opinion hold that the 2nd amendment most definitely applies to you in your home, but the federal government has the right to institute reasonable controls elsewhere in society?”

And the Feds can sometimes giveth what was taken away, as in this situation, where a federal department has acknowledged that States’ rights should prevail and our Second Amendment rights should not be abrogated by excessively restrictive bureaucratic regulations, such as 36CFR2.4, within an artificial bureaucratic boundary. This amendment simply restores what the Reagan administration took from us.

Kurt: “As for how the bulk of the comments came down, my information is from NPCA”

I’d still like to see real data, please, from the government - not opinions from some “advocacy groups.” I really don’t care what these law enforcement types say. They already have a gun. It’s good to be the king. It’s easy for them to say I’m safe and I don’t need a gun to protect myself because there’s a ranger on duty covering 100,000 acres who can “enforce the law.” Where are these guys, anyway, when I’m our in the middle of nowhere? They’re eating donuts somewhere, writing tickets or putting on displays for the day-tripping tourists. I was at Shenandoah in October and we hiked over the course of three days. I didn’t see one cop in the woods except those on roadside asset re-allocation details. To be fair, there are many rangers – and law enforcement in general - who DO understand the problem and have written here in support of the change. These are the men and women who DO have a clue, unlike some middle manager just interested in keeping his job. I’ve been Karen Taylor-Goodriched for years and I’m soooo over that!

Kurt: “And really, is this a personal safety issue? As noted above, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report…there were 1.65 violent crimes per 100,000 national park visitors in 2006. 1.65, Rick.”

That sure sounds pretty low, Kurt, but when you get whacked on the head and your wife or girlfriend gets raped and has a love child to the rapist you can console her with: “Gee honey, the good news is you were just 1.65 out of a hundred thousand! Maybe you shoulda bought a lottery ticket today, too!” Yes, it is a personal safety issue. I prefer to assume responsibility for my safety and refuse to allow a bureaucrat to claim I’m safe while at the same time not be held legally responsible for protecting my life.

Kurt: “Some perspective. The U.S. murder rate is 5.9 per 100,000?“

Bogus comparison, Kurt. You’re just picking numbers and not factoring in other national, cultural, legal and demographic criteria. Some additional perspective I’ve posted before: criminals commit the crimes and will continue to do so regardless of how pretty your park is. Concealed carry permit holders prevent crimes and save lives.

The essence of the complaints of the anti gun crowd here is “we don’t like guns because they scare us and we don’t think you need them, therefore we don’t want you to have them because we know what’s best...” There’s a professor at the university where I work who’s admitted in writing he’s terrified to walk outside knowing there are citizens with concealed handguns. Is he kidding me? Well, probably not. He’s the typical nanny-state liberal and he sounds like what I’ve read in a number of posts here. He isn’t yammering about all of the criminals committing crimes – no, they’re the victims in his eyes. He’s yammering about law-abiding citizens exercising their Constitutional rights. Pfffffft.

This entire pseudo Nostradamus-like anti-gun crusade has been repeated ad nauseam 40 times in 40 states with areas of greater population densities than in parks – meaning, essentially, more potential target-rich environments or greater potential likelihood of confrontations. You know, cars passing and guns blazing. If there was any credence to the gun-haters’ prognostications we would have seen the much heralded “Dodge City” or “blood running in the streets” or “cowboys going gun-crazy” and the ensuing skyrocketing crime rates long ago. None of that happened any of the 40 times in 40 states and crime rates, in fact, went down because permit holders are trustworthy. And because the CRIMINALS knew their next victim might shoot them. Oooops! So much for that argument (but, hey, we’ll continue to beat a dead hysteria).

Concealed carry permit holders won’t be bothering the fine, polite, upstanding, nature-loving, pristine-sanctuary-enjoying park visitors and hikers because they’re too oblivious to know which concealed carry permit holding visitor is carrying a firearm. Permit holders won’t be “brandishing” their little phallic toys. They won’t be out blasting and poaching Bambis or shooting up signs for target practice. They’re just assuming responsibility for the own safety and not dumping that responsibility on some law enforcement person who has a family to go home to.

So, basiclly, RTFAQ: http://www.doi.gov/issues/Firearms%20Update%20FAQ%2012-4-08.pdf that sums it your complaints relatively well. Continue to be nice to everyone, as you have been doing. Enjoy your “pristine sanctuary” parks. Just know someday someone you meet may not be very nice to you. What will you do if you’re that “only” 1.65 out of 100,000 and the police aren’t there to “protect and serve”? It really is a personal safety issue. You can be safe or you can believe someone else might ensure your safety.

I hope you see the compelling need to carry a dictionary with you as well as your "gun." The dictionary is bound to keep you far safer than your fear and paranoia.

Does being "accousted" on the trail mean being hit with an acoustic guitar? Thank goodness. National parks are no place for amplification.

It simply amazes me the influx of pro gun contributers to this blog, as well as the anti gun individuals. It appears to me the gun issue takes far more attention then it actually deserves. Admitting, this is a hot button issue that the gun lobby loves to wield and kick around (as opposed to kicking Bush's plans down the drain to drill into Utah's grand National Parks). If we can all help to divert this gun hysteria into something more meaningful and constructive in stopping Bush's rape, greed and pillage of Utah...then I think we have accomplish something holistically together stop this "drill baby drill" madness. I'm more worried about the consequences of Bush's last days in office and his destructive format to reward the oil and utility companies with easy access into the National Park boundaries, then some gun loving park visitor. In my 40 years of backpacking, camping and hiking, I never ever encounter a violent situation...except for a few bears, marmots and drunken bums. Grant you that I'm no tenderfoot at this either. However, now I might consider my fate when I see the drunken bums in action since the new gun laws allow the National Park visitors to carry them. A big mistake!

This is only partially a gun issue, Anonymous. It's more an issue of the Constitution and civil rights.

I laugh so much when I hear anecdotes like, "I've never seen a violent incident in a national park!" or "The chances of violent crime are so low!"

Concealed weapons are an insurance policy. Please argue that you don't need car insurance because you haven't been in an accident or are unlikely to be in one; or argue that you don't need house insurance because the chances of your house burning down is so slim. After all, the house I live in has been here for 100 years, so clearly houses are very unlikely to burn down and I don't need insurance!

The likelihood of needing a gun does not preclude the Constitutional right of law-abiding citizens carrying one as an insurance policy.

Warren Z

You do want to put words in other peoples mouths don't you ?
Where did I mention the Bible ? or the Torah ? or the Koran ? Upanishads ? Medicine Wheel ? Any Organized Religion ?

YOU might be talking about the united States of America but I was discussing the right to defend myself. That exact same right shared by every living thing in every country of the world and all of the oceans as well.
Why do you suppose the Acacia tree has those thorns ?
Are they landing places for insects ? Or a defense against herbivorous predators ?

The Natural Laws of Life I was referring to are such things as; Keep breathing or die, Eat to survive or die, Defend yourself or die.

You seem to be intentionally missing the point. Do you work for the BATFE ?

To All ....
Have you ever asked yourself ... If guns are so bad that we need to completely control them why do we allow government employees to carry them ? Are government employees more trustworthy than you or I ? What does it say about a government that thinks you [all of its citizens] are not to be trusted ?
The Department of Agriculture Agents need guns ? Agriculture ?
Are the corn plants in open rebellion ?
Has the wheat harvest threatened secession ? Why are not the farmers up in arms ?
What are the Agriculture Agents doing to American citizens that requires that they carry firearms to defend themselves ?
Whatever it is must be pretty horrendous ?
LIKE FOOD RAIDS IN OHIO !?! Yes, you read that right.
Scroogle scraper[scroogle dot org] this: LaGrange,Ohio +Food Raid. You may or may not be amazed, shocked and angered.
Vicky Weaver was murdered over 3/8ths of an inch of wood too short on a shotgun stock and the $200 fine it incurred because of that length discrepancy. Her 14 year old son was murdered by a gunshot from the same sniper that same day.
Scroogle Ruby Ridge or Lon Horiouchi. Our government and our citizens.

The framers of the Bill of Rights put The Second Amendment at the number two place because it was that important to them. Not number eight or ten but number two right behind freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and redress of grievances.
How do you redress grievances to an armed tyrant that seems intent on ignoring and abusing you ? Ta Da .... the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is not about saving hunting rifles or shotguns .... its about saving our Republic from tyranny whether foreign or domestic. Now where did I hear that before ?

And while I am on the subject of antique documents that the government ignores If you will read the Militia Act of 1792 you will find that All males from 17 to 45 Are REQUIRED to own a gun and the ammunition for it. That law has NOT been struck down by the way. 216 years old and still in force.
So .... the militia is not about "helping" the standing army it's about defending the common citizen FROM the standing army in the event of a tyrant trying to usurp the protected rights of the People.
And where have we heard that recently ?

I have spent a considerable time in some of our National Parks and I have yet to see an incident where firearms were used. I know it has happened and that I was not and am not omnipresent but it sure seems to me that this whole brou-ha-ha sure is "Much Ado About Nothing".

Anti-gun proponents raise enough hue and cry you would think that every single gun was operating itself and attacking the populous by itself. There are Hundreds of Millions of guns in this country why haven't they killed us all off before now ?
Guns don't kill people, people kill people and if you're a government employee you can kill without punishment, right Mr Horiouchi ?

A law abiding citizen should be able to openly carry a firearm or a two handed sword if s/he desires. The framers thought so as well. They wanted us to have and carry the same arms as our own army. It sure makes a possible tyrant planning a takeover think first doesn't it ?

I am done here.
I want to thank the National Park Service for the excellent job they have done of keeping up the parks for the People of these united States of America. And I would like to thank them for this opportunity to express my opinion here in public about this rule change which I heartily endorse but you must have figured that out by now.

Liberty for All,

Capt

Capt:

Thank you for your thorough arguments here. I must say I do enjoy a good debate.
And I applaud you for your conviction to your beliefs, as I would hope you would so for me. Believe it or not, I try embrace all viewpoints and do not automatically dismiss those whose opinions differ from my own. But this being a forum set up for comment and debate, I cannot resist the invitation.

I will tell you that I am not an employee of the BATFE. (The standard abbreviation is actually ATF.)
So, someone who feels as strongly as I do about keeping guns out of our National Parks could only be an employee of a Federal law enforcement and regulatory agency? A fair question, and one that I would probably ask if I were on your side of this debate, feeling as passionately as I do. However, I am not an ATF employee.

I guess I feel so strongly about this because I was not brought up in a household that owned guns. But then again, there are many gun owners and enthusiasts that also believe personal firearms have no place in the parks. Only time will show us all how this new rule will play out.
Again I will say that I do not wish to overturn any law, governmental, universal, natural, or otherwise, that you feel grants you a right to protect yourself. I would however hope that we are all following the same rules set forth for the society we live in, and operating within the established guidelines to effect change if we see fit to do so.

Thanks to you, Capt., and all bloggers here, I have enjoyed this debate a great deal. I think we can all agree that no matter what happens with this new rule under the incoming administration, the debate will never go away.

Very well stated. I concur. I don't understand the panic of having a licensed and trained hiker or camper in the wilds with you. Some of these writers must go to some very trashy and over crowded campsites. Drunks? Guess I get too far off the beaten path in most cases. As far as wild life dangers go, I've never had a problem because I didn't do anything stupid like leave food out or not watch what was going on around me. Never had to kill a snake and move rattlesnakes out of the road. Am aware there are the occasional rabid animals that will attack and defy all the "normal" behavior patterns and that's when you want a sidearm.

Anyone have a link to the pre 1979 (?) NPS rules (exactly) before they initiated the ban on open weapons in the parks?

Maybe good people like you will never need someone to protect you from a criminal, if you do don't let them bring a gun to protect you.

I agree completely. It is foolish to think that the criminals will not have concealed weapons in the National Parks. It is also foolish to think that the law enforcement in the NPS will be able to protect law abiding citizens while they are in the Parks. Does anyone remember what Mr Stainer did to those three women? I applaude Mr Bush's decision. The law abiding citizens of this country have a right given to them by God, and not Congress or the politicians, to protect themselves. If those opposed to this rule don't like it they can continue to travel in the NPS unarmed. As for me, I am happy to have my right for self protection restored. Thank you Mr Bush!! And if the Obamanistas think that they can govern this country through the tyrany of the Executive Order they are only fooling themselves.

Fact check: Mr. Stayner's murders of "three women" were committed outside Yosemite in the town of El Portal. He did, though, confess to killing a park naturalist inside the park in July 1999.

As for "the tyranny of the Executive Order," some would argue that 43 perfected that.

Guns don't kill people! People kill people. A gun is just another device used in protecting ones self or inflicting injury or death unto another person or living animal.

I have a carry permit in the State of Tennessee. This permit allows me to carry concealed or out in the open. I definently support this bill, although the way the Bush administration went about it, I dont agree with. We have checks and balances that our system of government was built on for a reason. When this is circumvented, what is stopping our leaders from doing it again and again for someother reason.

When I travel outside of my home area, I take my gun with me. There has been several times that I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time and of no fault of my own. I was very thankful and so were the other people around me that I did have my gun and was able to branish the weapon and prevent a gas station from being robbed, and perhaps someone getting killed in the process. I was in noway shape or form looking for a reason to pull the weapon out other than for protecting myself or another individual standing within my presence.

I consider myself very lucky to be given the right to carry outside my home and do agree with the decision to carry in National Parks.

Criminals don't follow the laws, so why should we give them some leverage on taking advantage of hurting, kidnapping or even killing someone for their sick and twisted excuses? I was in the Marines and I dont need this gun to kill people, but when faced with a criminal that has a gun or someother type of instrument that can cause death or injury to myself, family members or someone within my presence, its my duty to protect them as I would protect myself.

I don't see anyone talking about how many criminals are shot each year because the homeowner(s) had a gun to protect their family with and if no gun, they surely would have been another statistic.

Those that abide by the laws and have a permit to carry a weapon should be the least of your concern. Some real intelligant political figures would call law abiding citizens, "dangerous people".....LOL...The criminals are the dangerous people.

There will be no added enviromental danger to the forest, besides, what harm does a weapon do to the enviroment just sitting in his/her holster???

The FBI does a background investigation on each person that requests a carry permit and he/she must pass a class on the safe handling of a weapon and the rules and regulations of the State. No pass, No permit.

Lets think positive here people. Guns dont kill people, people use the guns to kill or hurt other people. Remember, you can take the steak knife and kill someone, so should we outlaw steak knifes or how about a lawn mower blade? Or heres a good one, an AXE or a CHAINSAW????

There will come a day for some of you that you will encounter a unrully crazy whacko and you will have wished that you had a gun to protect yourself. When that happens you'll be out of luck then! The police wont be there fast enough or you wont beable to make the call fast enough. You wont have anything better to protect yourself with, because the intruder either has your axe, steak knife or chainsaw with him and you will be there standing defenseless wishing you had a gun to protect yourself or your family. I hope that never happens, but sometimes I wish people had some kind experience to open their eyes to the fact that, guns arent such a bad idea after all, its the criminals that have them and if guns didnt exist, they would have something else to put you out of your misery so they could do whatever they wanted to or take whatever they wanted.

I know my thoughts are a little on the harsh side but its better to hear the truth without all the political correctness BS involved.

Best of Luck to you all!
Semper Fi.
John