Secretary Salazar on Guns in Parks: He'll "Take A Look At It"

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was non-committal, though with a decided rightward lean, when asked by a National Park Service employee whether he would challenge the recent rule change to allow park visitors to arm themselves.

During a get-to-know-you meeting with Interior Department employees earlier this week, one that was telecast through the agency's offices across the country, Secretary Salazar, in part because the rule change is the subject of legal wranglings, said nothing of substance when asked about the rule. Rather, he simply said he would "take a look at it."

The short reply came in response to a question from Einar Olsen, an assistant regional director who also spent time as chief ranger for the agency's Capital Region. Ranger Olsen pointed out that the National Park System gets more than 275 million visitors annually and statistics show that park rangers have the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement when it comes to the number of assaults they attract.

Secretary Salazar told the ranger that he was brought up with guns and feels entirely comfortable with them. "I'm a defender of the 2nd Amendment," he added. "We'll take a look at it. I don't have an answer for you at this time."


It's nice to see that someone in the new administration isn't bashing guns at their mere mention. Responsible gun owners are the backbone of America, no matter what slant the press is taking these days. Just ask the people in Australia what happens when the guns are taken away from them - the crime rate against citizens jumps.

I am a Retired Viet Nam Marine Staff Sergeant. I was also a State Trooper for several years. I am now completely retired, live in Florida and Have a Concealed Weapons Permit. I am pro second amendment and believe that a person should have the right to own and carry a weapon if they are trained in it's use. I further believe that crime is detoured in areas where there are armed citizens. I have lived in areas where citizens are not allowed concealed carry and personal serious crime is double digit compared to areas where concealed carry is permitted.
As a former police officer, I discovered that the people who carry weapons legally and were trained in their use, were more responsible and more safety consicous, as a rule, that the overall public. I am futher convenced that our nations law enforcement community need more hands on training than just once a year qualification. "Officer survival" is a key concern of mine and I read about too many acidential shootings amoung our under paid, under staffed and over worked law enforcement officers. I also agree that Park Law enforcement, Game Wardens, and recreational law enforcement officers are, as a rule, not appreciated nor respected as they should be.

Obviously, supporters of the 2nd amendment (as it's interpreted) fail to look at statistics. Countries where firearms are illegal get a fraction of our gun related deaths. Firearms, except for shotguns, should be banned, especially in the parks where they have no use.

I have been hiking all my life and literally all of the people I have encountered have been friendly. It appears that those who spend time in the outdoor spaces where hiking and such occur are for the vast majority civil people.

I work with a woman who's husband is both an alcoholic as well as physically abusive. This same man owns several rifles and guns. During hunting season I don't even consider heading out into the woods which is regretful because fall is so beautiful. Frankly I don't want to be subject to the likes of him in our national parks with the possibility of guns in his posession. I go there to enjoy the beauty of the places and for peace.

As far as protection form wild animals is concerned there are so many effective methods to deal with that firearms aren't necessary. At the same time if animal control is necessary I could support a hunting season in the parks as the park administration deems appropiate.

You know it would be nice to see the civility I have encountered remain as well as furthered through a code of conduct that actually states firearms in certain places in this country are actually redundant.

I acknowledge that most people carrying licensed firearms are probably responsible people most of the time. And while I do worry about the potential dangers to LE Rangers, I do have some wildlife related concerns.

Unless a gun-carrying park visitor is an active hunter of big game or avid wildlife watcher, they will likely incorrectly read many human/wildlife interactions. This can happen to detriment of wildlife and people. Most guns people would carry on a hike, or store in their glove box, for protection are not effective at protecting people from wildlife.... but most people don't realize that. And even if a bear is going to attack you (i.e., is charging with intent to kill you) you will only have seconds to react and even less time to properly aim. Even if you get a shot off unless you are lucky even a solid hit won't end a charging griz.

OK, if you are too afraid of going on a hike in a National Park without a gun, please do not go. I enjoy my guns as much as the next guy and never once have I felt the need to have one with me while hiking. Now if there were people out there with them, then I might have something to be afraid of. I can't even understand why this is an issue. Keep the guns where they belong, in a hunting blind etc...

I guess I'm lost. Just WHY do people want to carry guns in a National Park?

Yes indeed, Anonymous (1st post).
The Brits also want their guns back as Britain has a soaring crime rate. A couple good articles for ya:

Oh, and if you read this blog, THANK YOU, Secretary Salazar!!

"Anonymous" said: I guess I'm lost. Just WHY do people want to carry guns in a National Park?

Why indeed! I carry in the National Park for the same reason I carry when I go to Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Home Depot, or Safeway: I honestly hope that I will not NEED it, but I'll have it with me for that one-in-a-million chance that I might have to USE it.

Respectfully, there is a word for that degree of concern. Following that line of reasoning, wouldn't it be just as appropriate to carry a gas mask, flame retardant coveralls, emergency medical kit, full body armor, etc.? If you must to spend time in places that are obviously dangerous (war zone, known centers of violent crime, etc.) there may be some justification for carrying a concealed firearm. However, it seems an extreme stretch to justify being armed with a concealed hand gun on the walkway of Old Faithful.

Reminds me of an interesting anecdote. One evening after work, I was riding in a local park with some mountain biking buddies. On our way down, we met a solo rider, and proceeded to chit chat as one of us had seen a mountain lion earlier. The solo guy proceeded to reply that he was okay since he was packing a gun on his ride! The interesting part was that he was not wearing a helmet. Interesting how one could be worrying about the 1 in a million odd of having to deal with a mountain lion yet was not protecting his noggin for the much more likely event of falling off the bike. Go figure...

Just in: Bill Schneider reports in New West that neither the guns-in-parks rule or the mountain bikes-in-parks rule is being affected by the freeze on implementing the previous administration's regulations:

Schneider, by the way, is an astute commentator on controversial issues like these and one of the few truly neutral voices of reason out there. Reading his various reports and discussions on the New West website will prove valuable.

Well, to be accurate, the guns rule wasn't in the freeze mix anyway, as it already had been placed into effect before President Obama was sworn in. That said, it's still the subject of two lawsuits.

Nice to see Interior Secretary Salazar be a 2A supporter. I agree I am comfortable around guns and peole who use them and been shooting since I been a child and you don't see people freak out at a gun range with weapons openly carried, or over the shoulder and or at rest.

But the emotional reaction of others is strange, they are so scared of a tool. We either trust Americans to be free or we don't. An American that can bear arms is a free man. One that is not free to do that, is a subject, though he may not realize it.

As to the fear that CCW holder will start acting irrationally and shoot people, wildlife and scenery, that doesnt happen outside parks so there is no rational reason to assume they will inside a park.