Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges

A federal judge, in a biting opinion highly critical of the Bush administration's Interior Department, has blocked a rule change that would have allowed national park visitors to carry concealed weapons.

In her ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly scolded those who crafted the rule change for abdicating "their congressionally-mandated obligation to evaluate all reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts..."

The ruling, which also applies to concealed carry in national wildlife refuges, granted the National Parks Conservation Association, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and the Association of National Park Rangers a preliminary injunction that blocks the rule change.

“This ruling by Judge Kollar-Kotelly validates the concerns of Americans across the country, every living former director of the National Park Service, ranger organizations, and retired park superintendents —all of whom opposed this eleventh-hour change under the Bush Administration," said Bryan Faehner, associate director, park uses, for the NPCA.

“This decision will help ensure national parks remain one of the safest places for American families and wildlife,” he said.

The rule change, which took effect January 9 and will now be blocked until the court issues a final determination, was seen by gun-control advocates and national park advocates as pandering by the outgoing Bush administration to the National Rifle Association.

Indeed, despite being in office for eight years the administration didn't actively move forward on the rule until its final year in office. And then it moved with haste, moving from a proposal to replace the old rule, which allowed for firearms to be transported through national parks as long as they were broken down and placed out of reach, to language to allow concealed carry in barely two months.

Some of those working under former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne worried that the process was flawed because the rule-change was being pushed through without a National Environmental Policy Act review, which is just what Judge Kollar-Kotelly focused on.

Indeed, at one point the judge, who called the Bush administration's approach "astoundingly flawed," struggled to grasp the logic of Secretary Kempthorne in deciding no NEPA review was necessary.

The lynchpin of Defendants’ response is that the Final Rule has no environmental impacts–and that Defendants were not required to perform any environmental analysis–because the Final Rule only authorizes persons to possess concealed, loaded, and operable firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, and does not authorize persons to discharge, brandish, or otherwise use the concealed, loaded, and operable firearms. In other words, the Final Rule has no environmental impacts according to Defendants because the Final Rule does not authorize any environmental impacts. (emphasis added)

In her 44-page ruling (attached below) Judge Kollar-Kotelly also noted that the Bush administration, "ignored (without sufficient explanation) substantial information in the administrative record concerning environmental impacts, including (i) Defendants’ own long-standing belief under the previous regulations that allowing only inoperable and stored firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges was necessary to safeguard against certain risks to the environment and (ii) the almost universal view among interested parties that persons who possess concealed, loaded, and operable firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges will use them for any number of reasons, including self-defense against persons and animals (all of which suggests that the Final Rule will have some impact on the environment).

Judge Judge Kollar-Kotelly also made it clear that she was not ruling on the issue of gun rights in general or concealed carry specifically.

"(D)espite many of the arguments raised by the parties, intervenor-movants, and amici curiae, this case is not a platform for resolving disputes concerning the merits of concealed weapons or laws related to concealed weapons that are appropriately directed to the other branches of government," she pointed out. "The Court is bound to consider only whether Defendants have complied with Congress’ statutes and regulations, and not whether Defendants have made wise judgments in any normative sense. Accordingly, the Court expresses no view as to the merits of any laws or regulations related to concealed weapons or firearms generally."

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National Parks-Gun Ruling TRO.pdf182.27 KB

Comments

Following Kempthorne's logic, I'm wondering why the previous administration proposed allowing concealed weapons only in parks. Why not allow them in airports as well? After all, such a rule wouldn't authorize the USE of such weapons in an airport, just their presence.

This is absurd. You have the RIGHT to keep and BEAR arms. There is loads of data that show that allowing concealed carry has actually reduced violent crime... even as the budgets of law enforcement has declined, law officers decrease, job losses rise, cost of living rises, and poverty rises (all factors that typically cause crime to increase). There is loads of data showing that states and cities (and countries) that restrict lawful gun ownership actually see and INCREASE in violent crime! Why? For every 1 'gun related violent crime' (did the cop do the shooting?) there are dozens of cases where a firearm was used to save someone. I am sick of listening to the paranoid delusions of the Hug-a-Thug Anti-Gunners. If someone wants to commit a criminal or violent act, they will, no matter what laws there are. If all guns magically vanished, then they would use a kitchen knife, baseball bat, or load a Uhaul up with fertilizer etc etc. The difference, noone would be able to stop them because they would be powerless against them. I know a couple that were mugged and left tied to a tree in freezing weather without a jacket while camping in a national park. Fortunately that was all that happened to them, and we later found out that muggings were quite common in that area. While they aren't the gun owning type, they should have been able to exercise that RIGHT in order to protect themselves. I AM an environmentalist. You want to keep lead out of our parks? Do something about China. 30% of the lead in our surface water comes from smoke stacks at Chinese manufacturing plants. Whether lead bullets are stored in the trunk or stored at your side, really is not going to impact the environment in any which way at all. Absurd. If it is for 'the environment', why not go after the real threats our environment is facing? There are SCORES of them! Unless it has nothing to do with the environment at all.

Ya know... the bill of rights, specifically the second amendment is really fairly simple to read. I'm nor sure what about "shall not be infringed" is difficult to understand. I guess like "Thou shall not lie" and the nine other suggestions it's just an out dated concept in today's enlightened world.

For the past 2 years we had to hear from the past NPS Director how great Kempthorne was. This is part of the evidence that he was no real friend to parks. What role did the past Director play in this? She certainly did not stop the rule. Couldn't she have insisted that it was not NEPA compiant?

Concerned and Anonymous No. 2, as the story pointed out, this ruling had absolutely nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. It centered 100 percent on the duty of the Interior Department to consider the environmental ramifications of its actions.

Anonymous No. 3, the past two NPS directors were not known to stand up to their Interior Department bosses. That's certainly understandable, albeit disappointing. It will be interesting to see who becomes the next director and how vigorous they are in defending the parks.

In one sentence they say that parks are one of the safest places for Americans. In another sentence they imply that people with concealed handguns will be shooting aggressive people and animals so often that it will negatively impact the environment.
The truth is that the odds of someone having to use a gun for self defense in a National Park is fairly low. Allowing people to carry them will probably result in very few shootings. The "environmental impact" of so few bullets is so low as to be undetectable.
The fact is, it is still illegal to shoot trees, or animals, or targets. In fact it is still illegal to discharge the weapon at all unless done so in self defense. The assumption is that people who legally carry a handgun are suddenly going to become criminals and shoot indiscriminately.
People who have no regard for laws can already take a gun into a National Park and shoot animals. They are breaking at least 3 laws.
Possession of the gun, discharging it, and poaching. If the person has a concealed carry permit, they would be breaking 2 laws, discharging a firearm, and poaching. The fact is that people with concealed carry licenses are statistically very law abiding, and very few would break any laws.
So this rule change really will not affect the number of shots fired in National Parks, only the number of laws that a potential criminal will violate when doing so. And that number is only reduced for poachers or vandals who have a carry permit, which is a very low number.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly calims that her ruling in not related to the merits of using a handgun for protection, but look at who was the main sponsor of this case. The Brady Campaign. This is nothing more than using a technicality to obstruct a rule change that the Brady campaign does not agree with.
Now our government is going to have to spend millions of dollars determinining the Environmental Impact of a hiker firing two bullets at an aggressive would-be thief. Of course the study will find that the impact is negligible, but by then the new administration will have gone through the process to change the rules again.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly argues that although the rule does not expllicitly allow discharge of the firearm, it implicitly allows the gun to be fired in self defense. Is she of the opinion that even in the case of defending oneself against a mortal threat, the impact of a missed shot hitting a tree is more important to the overall "health" of the park then then safety and health of the permit holder?

This is nothing more than classic legal obstructionism, wasting the court's time and resources to further a back-door political agenda.

Take a step back for a minute and consider why the ban on loaded guns in national parks was enacted decades ago. Poaching was already illegal, but enforcement was nearly impossible. The problem is that when loaded guns are legal anywhere in a park, poaching is almost impossible to stop: the only time the poachers are at risk of arrest is when they are actually shooting and packing out their game. [Maybe I'm not as good of a hunter as y'all, but in my limited experience, the vast majority of my time is spent hiking and searching, not actually shooting.] The ban on loaded firearms in parks was enacted so that poaching could be stopped: poachers could be apprehended any time they were in the parks.

You can argue the pros and cons of allowing loaded firearms into national parks, but the history of why the ban was imposed is why claiming that there won't be any environmental impacts doesn't pass the laugh test, and the law requires NEPA review.

If it's so safe, why do the park rangers carry firearms?

Why is it that when groups like the NRA file lawsuits, it is viewed as activity that does not pursue their politial agendas? Yet, when other groups file lawsuits, it is nothing but "classic legal obstructionism, wasting the court's time and resources to further a back-door political agenda." I am a member of two of the litigant parties. I don't think these groups have a back door political agenda. They are up front in saying that the previous regulation concerning guns in parks worked well and that the DOI's new rule was a solution looking for a problem without any evidence to support its implementation.

Rick Smith

The new rule was a solution to a problem. The problem of CCW holders traveling across NPS lands in cars and having to stop and secure the weapon and then stop again to carry in a holster. Some drivers had to do this many times a day.

Plus the Heller decision implies that the federal government cannot ban guns and carry in the parks. The Heller decision did indicate that CCW could be banned but not carry. So would open carry be a better solution?

I do not believe that Brady people would approve of open carry. It is funny but that organization has justified its stance on keeping guns out of criminal hands. However this rule change had nothing to so with this justification, but the Brady group was against this rule change.

So is the Brady group concerned about the possible environmental impact or just the fact that guns were allowed with CCW?

The answer is obvious. Brady group is anti gun, not pro environment.

Beside how is gun secure in a holster an environmental hazard? The ban on discharge is still in effect so this is just another example of anti gun hysteria.

I expect the District Ct to uphold the injunction and then go to the Circuit Ct where it will be overturned just like the Heller decision.

While you may be right about the original intent of the law, the current rule change should not affect poaching.

The following would all have to be true for the rule change to lead to more poaching:
1. A poacher would have to be able to pass a criminal background check.
2. He would have to go through the licensing and training requirements of his state and pay for a permit.
3. He would have to have a concealable handgun capable of taking game, perhaps a midsized 44 Magnum or 357 Magnum
4. He could secretely carry that handgun on his person, knowing that he had not violated any laws yet.
5. He would then travel to a remote area where a gunshot would not be heard, track and shoot an animal.
6. He risks severe legal penalties, including the permanent loss of his permit, as soo as he draws his weapon and fires.
7. Then he secretely cleans and hauls out the meat.

Without the rule change, this is what it takes to poach: (note this could happen with or without the rule change allowing concealed guns)
1. Anyone with any criminal history takes any gun to a remote area of a National Park.
2. The gun is unloaded, disassembled, and in a case in the trunk as has been required by park rules for years.
2. He risks severe legal penalty as soon as he assembles and loads the gun.
3. He tracks and shoots an animal.
4. He secretely processes and packs out the meat.

Since the gun is legal in both scenarios until the crime is about to be perpetrated, what difference does it make that in one case the law was broken a few minutes sooner rather than later? There is really no increased chance for law enforcement to stop the poaching.

Consider also that those with concealed carry permits are exceedingly law abiding, and probably would not be the people poaching. And handguns commonly carried concealed would be of limited effectiveness in taking down game animals.

If their case was so strong that concealed handguns were an unnecessary presence in the parks, why didn;t they argue that position?
Instead they argued the technicallity that proper environmental assessments were not followed.

How exactly did the previous rules "work well". Kind of like saying my magic hat keeps away elephants. It has worked so far, why should I stop wearing it.
The fact is that there is much evidence to show that allowing concealed carry is both advantageous for the carrier, and does not cause a detriment to other who are not carrying. States that have allowed concealed carry have not seen an increase in crimes committed by those carrying legally. And if having a sidearm means I have another means at my disposal to protect my family against a threat (yes, admittedly a small statistical threat) of attack from a human or animal, then why not allow it.
In my opinion a rule change that increases my options for self protection while having no discenable nagative effects is a no-brainer.

I personally am glad that when I am hiking in the National Forest, or state parks I can carry a tool that gives me the ability to defend my child, my wife, and myself from an aggressive attack. Now, if I venture into a National Park I have to unload it, and pack it in the trunk where it does me no good. Why should there be a difference in rules because I cross a road, or walk through a gate.
That is what the rule change did in January. It made State law apply on federal National Park land.
Why is that a bad idea? Is the federal government smarter than the local government? No, just further removed from reality.

This has nothing to do with 2nd Amendment rights and everything to do with the NRA's voter mobilization strategy for 2008 & 2010.

Concealed Handgun Licensees SHOULD be permitted to carry within airports and on aircraft. CHL holders are proven to be among the most law abiding people in our population. These are NOT the people you need to be concerned about!

Welcome to your National Parks! A place where you may be assured that you have no right to protect yourself and where criminals have the assurance that they may attack you unimpeded.

On this thread and elsewhere on the Traveler there have been claims about drug smugglers and AK-47-toting thugs and how dangerous some areas of national parks are. At the same time, there have been more than a few CCW permit holders who have claimed that they've carried in the parks.

Just out of curiosity's sake, have any CCW permit holders had to resort to pulling their weapon in a national park? If so, would you share the circumstances? Have any CCW permit holders who left their piece behind when they entered a national park been accosted? Again, would you share the circumstances?

In either case, did you file a report with a law-enforcement ranger?

Obviously, there's no scientific validity to this survey, but I sense there would be great interest in the responses.

Persons with concealed carry permits have demonstrated to the issuing state's satisfaction that they are responsible law abiding citizens and can be trusted to safely and responsibly carry concealed firearms because they are not a threat to themselves or others. After reading the judge's ruling it appears that the Brady Bunch's case is primarily based on an underlying assumption that concealed carry permit holders, as a group, are not capable of being responsible (lawful) with their firearms.

In addition, the Brady Bunch is insisting that, as a group, concealed carry permit holders will use their firearms on federal land in a manner which would essentially violate the issuing state's laws and regulations (ie. careless, criminal, and unwarranted discharges).

The failure of the park system to recognize state carry permits makes no more sense than banning the use of automobiles for fear that drivers with valid driver's licenses as a group are incapable of operating their vehicles in a lawful and responsible manner.

One of the most absurd arguments in the document was the question: why reverse such a long standing rule? I have two words for Brady: second amendment (actually I have many more but those two should suffice).

I would think that a concealed carry permit holder (responsible, law abiding, non-felon, state approved etc.) would not want to use their firearm, unless their life was in jeopardy, since discharging their firearm for any other reason could (and likely would) result in:

1) a trip to jail;
2) a felony record;
3) loss of the carry permit; and
4) loss of ALL OF THEIR FIREARMS (felons can't own them)

Brady Bunch also says most concealable weapons are ineffective against animals. As someone that has been attacked and nearly killed by a wild animal - I would prefer to have a firearm the next time.

Just a couple of comments and observations about this whole thing. First, I am a gun owner, I don't hunt anymore and am not anti-gun or anti- hunting. I have read most of the comments about this over the months and made a few of my own, but what has struck me today is the name calling remarks by some of the Pro carry folks, ya I know, sticks and stones. It just strikes me as funny that this language is coming from only one side, (if there are the same type of comments from the Non-Carriers please set me straight!) Things such as "Paranoid delusions of Hug-a-Thug Anti-Gunners or "Brady Bunch" just to Quote a couple. Another type of phrase that keeps popping up - "Among the most law abiding in our population" or "exeedingly law abiding", as if to say they are more law abiding that some one who chooses not to carry. But the best part of the "Most law abiding citizens" was a comment a few weeks ago where a Pro Carrier stated "No matter what the law is I will carry anyway!". Huh, I guess there is always one in the bunch. My last thought is, and mind you I am not taking either side on this at this time, just curious, Would or have any of the Pro Carriers out there just carried anyway in the Nat. Parks? Since its not visible who would know, kind of thing. Be honest... law abiding citizens, I am really curious to read your (honest) replies to that question or would that blow all the law abiding comments? I think alot of us have done something that was a bit illegal no matter how small, no seatbelt on when just going down the block to the store etc... Sorry, one other question to "concered" , what Nat. Park did the people you know get mugged and tied to a tree? i am also glad they were OK after that, but maybe you could let people know where if it happens as often as you say.?

It seems like this administration's judicial supporters are just like their congressional supporters since they will will trample our constitutional rights without even blinking an eye. As usual, the descenters want to know who drew their weapons, who felt threatened, who fired their guns...give us your names!!!! Sound familiar?

Why don't they see the issue is the preservasion of constitutional rights?

Upset,

Anyone who supports constitutional rights should also want to see the laws upheld, no? And that's what this case is about, whether the Bush administration followed the National Environmental Policy Act. The ruling had nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

I do agree that laws should be upheld and such law must be constitutional to be enforced. This was a "rule" change that was in compliance with something higher than a law...the Constitution. An individual's constitutional right's cannot be abridged or usurped by a "rule" or "policy" even if the law is constitutional.

This has everything to do with the 2nd amendment otherwise why did the Brady Foundation get involved. I don't ever recall the Brady Foundation getting involved in any other "environmental" issue within the NPS, or any other "environmental" issue for that matter.

If it walks like a duck; talks like a duck; then it's a duck. The fact the other plaintiff's left the Brady Foundation in as a plaintiff certainly questions their agenda.

You say you don't recall Brady getting involved with other "environmental" issues. Well, while you're probably right, what other national park issues has the NRA gotten involved with other than this one (or similar gun issues)?

As to your initial point, are you saying that even though the Constitution gave Congress the right to enact laws (in the case at hand the National Environmental Policy Act), and Congress directed the agencies to promulgate rules and set up a process for that, and the Supreme Court has upheld those laws and processes, that it doesn't matter when it comes to 2nd Amendment, that nothing trumps the 2nd Amendment?

If that's the case, why can't you carry your firearm on a plane or into a courthouse or the U.S. Capitol?

And if I understand your point, doesn't that conflict with last year's Supreme Court ruling in which the court struck down the District of Columbia's gun law but also held that the 2nd Amendment right "is not unlimited."

And really, was the prior gun reg for national parks out of compliance with the Constitution? It didn't ban licensed gun owners from traveling with their weapons or ask that they hand them over; it simply required that they be broken down and out of easy reach. Was that regulation a denial of a constitutional right, or rather an inconvenience?

Kurt--

Give it up. You cannot argue with 2nd amendment believers. It's their way or the highway. I liked Anon's perspective. If one favors any kind of gun control, you are immediately labeled as a member of the Brady bunch or some kind of wild-eyed liberal by them. What I am most tired of is the statement, "what part of 'shall not be infringed' do you not understand?" There are places where concealed weapons are not appropriate. I happen to believe that one of those places is in areas of the National Park System. All that means is that I don't agree with those who think that guns are appropriate any place. It doesn't mean that I want to hug-a-thug. It also doesn't mean that I think everyone with a concealed weapons permit is a law-abiding citizen. We have ample evidence on this blog that concealed weapons permit holder carry, no matter what the law or rule.. So much for the statement that they are law-abiding citizens.

Let's let this play out in the courts and see what happens. That's the way issues get settled in this country. I worked in parks for 31 years. I never saw parks the way Tom sees them: "Welcome to your National Parks! A place where you may be assured that you have no right to protect yourself and where criminals have the assurance that they may attack you unimpeded." Nor do I think that the injunction is, as Dan sees it, "This is nothing more than classic legal obstructionism, wasting the court's time and resources to further a back-door political agenda." This is an issue about which intelligent people disagree.

Rick Smith

The NRA got involved in this issue because they saw through the smoke and treated it as another attempt to usurp an individual's right to bear arms. Isn't that why Brady got involved...to restrict/eliminate one's rights under the constitution, they certainly don't care about Condors or the effect of lead sinkers on fish.

The Constitution certainly gave the right to Congress to establish laws and the appropriate agencies can promulgate regulations, rules, etc. Such laws, regulations, etc must however, be constitutionally sound and yes, I am saying the 2nd Amendment does trump any law/regulation, etc. that is contrary to the right to bear arms. The fact you cannot take firearms into certain places or that certain persons cannot legally bear arms is because the Supreme Court has ruled such a law as constitutional or that particular law has not been challenged, period! No government body can create a law, etc. that is contrary to the Constitution.

And yes, I do feel the prior gun regulation was unconstitutional as there is no law barring concealed weapons in NP's. I am not a 2nd amendment zealot nor an avid NRA or Brady supporter but I do believe the latter two serve a purpose in that they don't let each other get out too far. I believe in the three branches of government and I don't want any of them to usurp my constitutional rights and the last time I looked, the NPS is not one of the three.

While you feel there are places where concealed weapons should be barred, only a law that has passed the constitution test can grant your wish. I am unaware of any law that passed the constitutional test specifically barring individuals from bearing arms in NP's, therefore, it should not be barred. You all may disagree but such disagreement lacks legal validity or status.

It is disingenuous to think this court case had nothing to do with gun rights or 2nd amendment issues. The Brady folk or the NRA would not be involved if not guns in parks were the true issue.

However the law of the case and the true issue can and are different. The required study was not done prior to the change ruling and the court decided based on that. They could have avoided by arguing none had standing, but she skipped over that and declared that DOI had failed in its duty to do the environmental impact.

I don’t believe that any deleterious environmental impact would be found. But no such finding was done which is the point.

On that point the court was on solid legal ground.

The courts should not decide policy. So do the study and submit that. This will tie up the implementation of the rule change for years. Silly legalistic struggles but that is the way of things now. To strangle policies with excessive regulations.

This ruling will do nothing to stop visitors from arming themselves when they venture into wild and possibly dangerous places. I know many folks who currently do it, with nary a bad incident to speak of, and they will continue to secure their personal safety with the best means at their disposal.

I've run across some pretty sketchy characters in some of the remoter parts of Death Valley, Joshua Tree and in Organ Pipe Cactus N.M. and boy oh boy was I glad that I was armed. If one of these nut jobs started to get violent with me and my family I was ready. The rangers can't be everywhere and as long as there are wide open spaces with potential hazards both natural and man-made many of us will continue to take the park service at its word when it says that our safety is our own responsibility.

Once again, we hear from a law-abiding concealed weapons permit holder.

Rick Smith

Damn straight Mr. Smith!

We're not going to rely on non-existent protection. As for following the letter of the law I can name quite a few things your beloved federal regime does that is very illegal and far more dangerous to life and limb than a man attempting to protect himself in the wilderness. Your continued dedication to regulations and rules is admirable in a retired agency bureaucrat but does not in any way reflect the reality on the ground. People are going to do what they need to do in order to insure their safety and that's not going to change whether the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) reflects it or not.

Simple fact.

If you only knew how she tried to stop this rulemaking, but was over ruled by the White House!

The need to carry a concealed weapon seems to be at issue. There is absolutely no need to do so. If safety is the primary issue for those proponents of carrying firearms into these areas, then BEARing them in the open makes the most sense. The need one feels to be secretive serves no purpose of promoting safety. If more people entering the parks are obviously armed, then the bad guys will be less like to inhabit these areas themselves. Hidden arms are more likely to lead to confrontation. BEAR your arms in the open proudly. Appear to be a proponent of safety and not paranoia.

We hear so much about the rights of "law abiding" citizens to bear arms. We hear about how CCW permit holders have "...demonstrated to the issuing state's satisfaction that they are responsible law abiding citizens and can be trusted to safely and responsibly carry concealed firearms because they are not a threat to themselves or others."
Here are a few examples of that:

In two reports that focused on the State of Florida, the
Violence Policy Center found that as of July 1995, 469 Florida CCW licensees had been
identified as having committed a wide variety of crimes. In just one year, between May 1995
and May 1996, 159 Florida CCW licensees had their licenses revoked.

Blacksburg, VA • February 1996. Robert Asbury died of a self-inflicted gun-shot wound after
he shot and killed his estranged wife and one of his wife’s former co-workers at her home. On
his CCW license application, Asbury wrote that he had owned and used guns for fifty years and
regularly practiced at a gun range.

Seattle, WA • December 9, 1998. Carlton Evans, a 37-year-old CCW licensee, was accused of
killing his wife and baby daughter after months of abuse.

Tualatin, OR • November 17, 1999. David Tanski, 53, rammed his car into another car that
had taken a parking space he felt belonged to him. When the driver of the second car approached
Tanski, Tanski pulled out a gun. Tanski, who has a CCW license, was charged with menacing.

Fountain City, TN • December 1999. William Manies, 52, returned to his former office to seek
revenge against the 45-year-old woman who fired him a month before. Manies, a CCW licensee,
walked into the office and pointed a .38-caliber pistol at the victim and executed her while she
sat in her chair, talking on the telephone.

The Violence Policy Center has published four
reports on CCW licensees in Texas. They found that Texas CCW licensees were arrested for
5,314 crimes between January 1, 1996 and August 31, 2001, and since Texas’ CCW licensing
law went into effect, licensees have been arrested for an average of two crimes per day.

Florida • Lyglenson Lemorin
retained his CCW license after two domestic violence arrests in 1997 and 1998. The first
time he allegedly threw a beer bottle at his girlfriend’s neck. The second time he allegedly
punched a pregnant former girlfriend, flashed his gun in her face and warned her, “I’ll kill you.”

Columbia, SC • June 9, 2008. A 4-year-old girl shot herself in the chest after grabbing her
grandmother’s handgun while riding in a shopping cart in a Sam’s Club store. The grandmother,
Donna Hutto Williamson, is a CCW licensee and left her purse containing the handgun in the
cart near the 4-year-old.

Cincinnati, OH • October 2008. CCW licensee Robert Stahl, 71, was at his daughter’s Halloween party and
was asked by one of several children there if he was dressed as a cowboy because he had a
handgun on his hip. Stahl said he was not a cowboy and then took the gun out and unloaded the
ammunition from the magazine, however, Stahl left a .45 caliber bullet in the gun’s chamber that
went off and hit 10-year-old Jasmine Vincenzo in the stomach.

Plaxico Burress had a CCW permit from Florida.

To obtain a permit in Michigan handgun buyers simply must correctly answer 70% of the questions on a written safety test, but the wrong answers are pointed out and they are allowed to retake the test if they fail.

There are many, many more such examples. The three things to remember are these: CCW licencees have tempers too; accidents happen; and, every single criminal who has ever lived was a "law abiding citizen" right up until the day that they weren't.

If you are that frightened that you think you need a gun in our national parks, just do us all a favor and stay home.

Frank N. , Thank You for the research, and posting it. I am now curious to see how the "Law abiding citizens" react to your comment and facts. I have wondered for sometime how they are better than others just because they are allowed to carry a weapon that no one can see. I myself own guns, but I don't see the need to hide it while in the Nat. Parks, but thats just my personal feelings.

Most if not all of Frank's examples can be found on the website of the self proclaimed "most aggressive group in the gun control movement" - The Violence Policy Center. Instead of me visiting the NRA website and regurgitating what I just read, you should just visit www.nra.org.

I'll credit Google for helping me find the following excerpts and quotes which are from newspaper articles, NPS press releases, and research papers:

NPS 2007 Annual Report – 8 murders, 43 forcible rapes, 57 robberies, and 274 instances of aggravated assault

"The most visitors used to worry about is running into a grizzly bear. Now there is the specter of violence by a masked [illegal] alien toting an AK-47," said David Barna, chief spokesman for the National Park Service (NPS).

Press Release National Park Service, August 2008 - Director Mary A. Bomar:
“These people slip in and out of their camps for supplies, tend and vigorously defend the marijuana crop that can be worth millions of dollars if it gets to market,” Bomar said. “And anyone who stumbles on their operations is in real danger.”

“National parks budgets are stretched far enough without having to deal with illegal marijuana growing operations.” (Mary Bomar)

"It's a $2 billion or a $4 billion problem, and we're throwing $1 million at it," said Supervisor Allen Ishida of Tulare County, whose deputies seized 157,000 pot plants on public and private lands and made 28 arrests this year.

Illegal marijuana growing sites have previously been found – and destroyed – at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Santa Monica National Recreation Area, and Point Reyes National Seashore.

The largest single bust in the nation this year netted 482,000 plants in the remote Sierra of Tulare County, the forest service said.

Violent crimes have occurred at Mount Rainier. There was a double rape and armed robbery on Rampart Ridge in 1978. In 1981 there was an armed robbery at the National Park Inn. The 1996 death of Sheila Ann Kearns, a housekeeper at the inn, was ruled a homicide.

April 2008 – A 55 year old man was attacked at Yellowstone. During the battle, the grizzly ripped off a big chunk of his scalp, scraped a wide groove of meat from beneath his right arm, and battered and scratched his torso. A small backpack probably helped him avoid further injury. Then the bear attacked again, he reached for the pistol he [illegally] wore in a holster on his belt and subsequently shot and killed the bear.

US Alligator attacks 1948 to 2004 – 376 injuries

Fatal alligator attacks (US) since 2000 - 13 deaths

KENAI -- A man was mauled by a brown bear on the Kenai Peninsula in what state officials are calling the first mauling of 2008. was charged by a sow with two cubs when he left his home early Tuesday. The man turned and fled, but the bear quickly caught him, biting his buttocks, the back of his head and his chest.

73 Mountain Lion Attacks between 1991 and 2003 in US - 10 victims were killed.

August 2008 - A woman on a guided hike in the Brooks Range was mauled by a bear at her group’s campsite in the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve on Thursday morning.

The Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve , 1996, a Washington, D.C. man was fatally mauled during a float trip down the Noatak River. He and another man were hiking through dense brush about a mile from the river when they surprised a sow grizzly with a cub at close range. The sow attacked and killed one of the men, the first fatal mauling in the park’s 28-year history.

March 2006, A 92-year-old man who was attacked by a bull moose while walking to church in a small mountain town was upgraded to serious condition on Monday.

A female moose with two calves attacked a 60-year-old woman while she was walking her dog. The woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries while her dog, a cocker spaniel, was so badly injured that it had to be euthanized.

November 2005, Carnegie was attacked and killed by wolves while hiking in remote Northern Saskatchewan [Canada]. Carnegie is the first human known to have been killed by healthy, wild wolves in North America.

SFC Frick from the magazine "Field and Stream" regarding self-defense with a gun "It's better to be sad than room temperature"

Pike,

As you point out, this "debate" offers quite the smorgasbord of statistics, plenty to go around.

Quick question: The April 2008 attack in Yellowstone. Do you have any more specifics, such as date, where in the park it happened? The park public affairs office never put out a release on that one, which I certainly would consider newsworthy. I'm not questioning you, I'm just curious about the incident.

Pike, would you please help me find documentation for this claim?

November 2005, Carnegie was attacked and killed by wolves while hiking in remote
Northern Saskatchewan [Canada]. Carnegie is the first human known to have been
killed by healthy, wild wolves in North America.

My problem is with the "known to" part of that statement. The last I heard, an exhaustive examination of the scene did not provide solid evidence that the victim was killed by wolves. Wolf tracks in the vicinity and some (reasonable) assumptions did support the conclusion that the victim might have been killed by wolves. Is there an autopsy report that nails this thing down? Did an eyewitness come forward? I'm genuinely curious.

I would note that in NPS areas with grizzly bears, the carrying of bear pepper spray is legal. You can find it in most gift shops in Yellowstone or Grand Teton. One of the problems with carrying a handgun is that it's not likely to take down a 400+ lb grizzly bear and it's very, very difficult to hit a full-gallop grizzly. Even so, I remember some rangers at Grand Teton talking about their bear spray and commenting that they felt they were more likely to use it against some person than a bear.

As for the illegal pot farms - they're usually located well away from major trails, since they don't want to be found. If you're camping in the frontcountry or near major roads, you've got little to be worried about. I heard about one guy who ran across one. Since he wasn't law enforcement, the man guarding the plants told him to just forget that he'd seen anything and just walk away. I don't recall any case where someone accidentally hiking into an illegal pot farm on NPS land being shot at.

In any case, the NPS has trained law enforcement. They are equipped with 12 gauge shotguns and AR-15s. If you're really worried about armed groups in national parts outfitted with AK-47s, then a handgun isn't likely to be enough.

Here are a few more "stats":
Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day).
An American has a one in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year.
The number of fatal dog attacks in the USA has been going up. The yearly average was 17 in the 1980s and 1990s; there were 33 deaths in 2007, which is roughly double the average in the prior two decades.
Funny. I still don't feel the need to carry a handgun when I go for a walk.
And here is the bottom line kicker:
Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms for children.
Logic clearly dictates that we must arm our children with concealed handguns! They have a right to protect themselves. The heck with the fact that some might accidently shoot themselves or a playmate, or might shoot someone out of anger or might shoot someone's beloved pet because it looked mean and might attack. Heck, we'll just give them a written safety test or an hour or two of instruction. They'll be fine!
In any case, these statistics kind of put "10 people killed by mountain lions in 12 years" or "13 deaths from alligators in eight years" into perspective.
There were no maulings in Yellowstone National Park during 2008. The last one was of the photographer who was well known for getting too close to bears, and had been mauled before, in Spring of 2007. There were several maulings of (armed) hunters outside of the park last year. Hunters do everything right for hunting, but wrong for bear country: They sneak around without making any noise, they hide their shape by wearing camo, they blow elk bugles, they do everything to hide their scent and sometimes even use elk urine, then they get blood and guts on themselves field dressing animals. This in the fall when grizzly bears are desperate to put on weight prior to hybernation. All of this, combined with a late first (big) snow (which kept bears "awake" later), led to a higher percentage of hunter-bear interactions than normal.
Bottom line: In the highly unlikely event that you are attacked by a bear in a National Park most experts; people who know bears, people who study bears, people who work with and around bears, will tell you that you have a far better chance using bear spray than a gun (especially a handgun, for god's sake). Many hunters have been badly injured or killed after they shot the attacking bear.
Finally, this thread isn't even about whether or not concealed guns should or should not be allowed in parks; and I apologize to Kurt for my part in steering it in that direction. It is about the Bush administration breaking the law by pushing this through without preparing the proper environmental impacts. Simply saying that there is no impact does not mean that there is no impact.
If pro-gunners want to be mad at someone, it shouldn't be the judge, it shouldn't be anyone in the Obama administration and it sure as heck shouldn't be me! It should be the officials in the Bush administration who, once again, felt that the law did not apply to them. Perhaps they really didn't want this to go through at all, but figured this was a good way to snuggle up to their political buddies (NRA etc.) while realizing that it was unlikely to pass the "smell" test. Kind of like wolves in Wyoming. Officials there (apparently) don't really want to manage wolves. Why pay for it when the feds are willing to do it? So they raise a big ruccus, stamp their feet like spoiled children, and take the feds to court knowing full well they can't win. They look good to their anti-wolf politcal cronies, and still keep the big dog on the ESL.

Reason Not To Own A Gun

http://www.cleveland.com/brett/blog/index.ssf/2009/04/the_best_reason_not_to_own_a_g.html

".......But fear isn't a good reason to own a gun.

Own one because you love to hunt, shoot targets or bust up clay pigeons.

Own one because you love the shape and style of an AR-15 rifle or a Colt single action revolver or the curve of the wood on a Smith & Wesson .45.

Own one because you like to shoot it, carry it, fix it, clean it and just plain touch it. Own one because your daddy did and his daddy did and there's a history in it.

But don't own one because you fear your neighbor will come steal your lawnmower....."

The above is an excerpt from an editorial in a Cleveland paper. It gives an interesting perspective on the carrying of personal firearms.

It is interesting that parks are now posting signs not to leave valuables in cars. Interesting that they want me to leave my weapon in my car. Dumb move as it is safer on my person. At the age of 21 I became a Michigan State Trooper, I carried a gun on duty and off duty. Because I did not retire as an officer I can not carry except where my CCW allows. Funny that at 21 I could be trusted but at 64 I might shoot someone. Even dumber as an officier I was required to become involved in crime, as a private citizen I walk away. Only if it directly involves myself, my wife or an actual hostage or person taken will I react. I don't want to be taken to court or hurt someone. I have carried (CCW) all waking hours for over eight years in 30 plus states as I know what happens, I've seen it from an officers view. As carry numbers increase - crime goes down.

As I travel state to state every winter I see more crime each year.

I'm sorry but you have no legitimate need to protect yourself in the national forests. Our great rangers will protect you.... Oh and criminals obey the law as it stands...

2 Virginia Tech Students Found Murdered in Forest
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,543985,00.html

I always carry concealed in the parks. The main word concealed. Who cares what the law reads. Concealed. No ranger will ever frisk you, and if they do, then you are a problem person anyway.

Who cares what the law reads? Uh, you can put me down for that one, Anon.

"I'm sorry but you have no legitimate need to protect yourself in the national forests. Our great rangers will protect you.... Oh and criminals obey the law as it stands..." Green Li9bertarian.

You seem to be a little confused. Where did you hear that it is illegal to carry a firearm in a national forest? Laws governing personal firearms in a national forest are usually in keeping with local state laws. Chances are that the murder victims were killed in a national forest where the possession of firearms is legal. Obviously, the right to carry did not save them.

Any updates on this?

I drive my Jeep through National Forests quite often and I'm a CWP holder in NC.

Chris, the regulation allowing concealed carry in national parks that fall within states that allow the same is scheduled to take effect in February 2010.

Did it take effect in Feb? I'bve gotten so much confusing and conflicting info on the subject. I visit the Uwharrie National Forest frequently and just want to know if it's legal for me to carry there.

The law did indeed take effect in February, but it was specific to national parks and national wildlife refuges. Not sure what your local national forest rules are, however, so you'd best check with them directly.