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What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?


Much of the debate over the rule change that allows national park visitors to arm themselves has been filled with vitriol. But no one, it seems, has considered the wildlife's point of view.

Instead the debate has been waged over 2nd Amendment rights, fear of drug runners, smugglers, and fellow hikers, fear of dangerous wildlife, and even fear of gun owners.

As the accompanying photo shows, perhaps we should also fear bears that come upon handguns in the parks.


At the last NRA convention. People were allowed to carry with a CCW. The only venue that disalllowed was when McCain spoke due to Secret Service rules for security. This convention was held in Lousville KY which allows open carry and conceal carry.

Sorry to have to make this correction but this allegation was false at the last convention.

Oh but Tom when was the last time you read the 2nd Amendment and the old version of 36 CFR 2.4 in the same sitting? It doesn't take a lawyer to figure out that this is not a 2nd Amendment issue. Granted it makes a nice soap box and people will listen if they think their rights are restricted, but it's just a wolf in sheeps clothing. You had the same rights granted in the 2nd Amendment with the old 36 CFR 2.4 While on the subject of 2nd Amendment rights ask the NRA why you are not allowed to carry with a valid CCW permit at their annual meetings?

Rick Smith wrote on February 22nd, 2009:

I vote we give gun topics a rest on NPT.

I concur.

Search for gun on National Parks Traveler, and you'll get 9 pages of results. With over 500 comments on the articles pertaining to the rule change on the first two pages alone, I agree with Mr. Smith that it is indeed a topic that has been shot to death.

However, those 500 comments show that people flock to the debate. All those comments generate content for the Traveler, and that content increases traffic from search engines, and, presumably increases readership.

As such an unofficial contributor, I would like to humbly ask for some consistency in comment moderation on the gun debate and on other topics, too. Many ad hominem attacks and vitriolic comments go unchecked while others are monitored for merely their tone. (Search for "idiot" on NPT and you'll get a few pages of results; six on the first page comment on the gun debate.) I agree with Mr. Repanshek that ad hominem attacks only detract from the debate, and I hope to see fewer on the site in the future.

At any rate, the debate will rage on, and it should take place on the Traveler. This webzine provides the best and most popular discussion on national park issues and politics on the entire web. Its slick, easy-to-use design and coverage of issues are unparalleled. Its readership is broad and deep. My many thanks to the editors for their hard work and efforts to maintain this site.

What would the wildlife say?
Nothing...they can't talk, and if they could they would say "what's that thing? if they could see it...but they can't 'cause it's CONCEALED.

I do also Bryan. the past evidence in NF and the states have been so far good. No one wants what you fear. The primary difference is that most people equate guns and criminals and since criminals do bad things with guns that bleeds over into fear what decent people will do. But guns are just a tool used for ill or good.

Our parks are valuable to Americans but CCW should not impact that at all. Any irresponsible use should be cracked down hard. Part of that is continuing education at ranges and hunting to use guns responsibly and to follow the rules. Most gun users are very responsible, they understand the risks too well. I have taken a greenie to the trap range and when he made a mistake , three of us instantly corrected him at the same time. It made an impression that gun safety is very important.

I would like to see gun safety education in high schools and rifle teams so more young people get the right lessons rather than what they get from videos and movies. I want people to be competent, not afraid but use these tools responsibly.

That is one reason why CCW holders have a better record than even police in gun handling and incidents becasue they have to jump through many hoops and all the gun community emphasizes responsible use. This has to be a continuing effort.

I truly hope that you are right RAH.

Good for you Red Mountain Rob. May you never have to use the weapon against any predator human or animal.

Remember bears may be armed and cougars get hungry. With your fire they can get a lot more than a quarter pounder. Many days of nicly cooked meat.

But seriously you will find that most gun info indicates handguns are a poor choice against bears. The bullet just does not penetrate enough to stop them. That is why rifles with a better caliber are used to hunt big game and bears.

Red Mountain Rob

I've just recently had to come to face this issue in my own life. I have hiked many a mile, climbed most of the 14'ers in Colorado and not once carried gun while hiking. But things in my life have changed, I'm older, retired, my health is not what it once was, moved to a new area and no longer think I can get myself out of most any jam by my wits.

Since moving here I have attended various seminars and workshop on wildlife and the environment. My passion is photography not hunting, and have been told by virtually every person, protect yourself, you can become the hunted. I have been told in private and heard it said at seminars, and I paraphrase, you cannot have a fire in this park. Period. But if your life is at stake, build a fire.

So what would a hungry bear say about me looking back at him? Ahh, a quarter pounder with cheese!

I have enrolled in a class to learn about weapons and will get a concealed carry permit.

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