Thursday, December 11, 2008

Smokey The Bear Accidentally Shot

That headline about Smokey could appear in newspapers across the country soon. For the first time in 25 years, a new Bush Administration rule will allow people to carry loaded, concealed weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges. Will the majority of people who visit these parks feel safer because of this new ruling? What do you think?

Which do you think is going to happen first, or more often: A law-abiding citizen with a permit to carry a concealed weapon will use his gun to protect himself or his property? Or, there will be a tragic accident involving a drunk and a gun, an animal and a gun, or a little kid and a gun?

Why do gun owners think it's so important to have a gun with them in a national park? Is this part of their "slippery slope" theory. You know, that if guns are prohibited in the parks, next they'll be saying you can't have a bazooka in your garage.

Here's the ruling: beginning in January, people who are licensed to carry concealed weapons will be allowed to carry those weapons in national parks So, people will be allowed to carry firearms, concealed and loaded, in 388 out of the 391 national parks. Wisconsin and Illinois don't issue concealed carry permits, so the parks in those states are exempt. But I'm sure the National Rifle Association is taking aim at those three parks, too.

You're probably wondering what liberal, left-wing, Constitution-hating regime banned these weapons from parks 25 years ago. Well, the bill that did so was signed by Ronald Reagan. It required firearms to be unloaded and placed somewhere that wasn't too accessible, such as a car trunk, while people visited federal parks. I guess the NRA feels that the Founding Fathers were against keeping things in locked trunks.

This paragraph is specifically for members of the NRA and other gun owners. I'm not saying that you don't have the legal right to carry a gun into a national park. So you don't have to send me that nasty email. (But you can if you want to). I'm just appealing to common sense when I ask the question, "Why do you feel a need to bring a gun into a national park?"

The way the NRA explains it, "We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America's National Parks and wildlife refuges."

But what is it that they feel a need to protect themselves from? Until now, people weren't walking around with guns, so it can't be other campers. Shooting those bears who are sniffing around your garbage isn't allowed. Those Boy Scouts who might be singing too loudly aren't really a threat. So what are you so afraid of that you feel the need to have your gun with you?

Part of the above NRA quote refers to "enjoying" the parks. You mean, until now, there were people who visited the parks, and then afterwards said to their friends or spouses, "I loved the hiking, and the beauty of the park was breathtaking. But I really would have enjoyed the experience more if I had had my concealed weapon with me?"

I believe the NRA folks when they say they will feel safer because of this ruling. But what about the rest of us? Are you going to feel safer, knowing that those guys in the next tent who just drank a case of beer might be carrying concealed weapons? Are you going to be afraid to ask the woman by the campfire who's playing her radio too loud to turn it down now that you know that the thing in her pocket might not be a flashlight? And will that nervous guy with a gun who sees something moving in the middle of the night shoot it before realizing it's you running to the bathroom?

Gun guys, take a break. We all know the law says you can have your gun with you, but it doesn't say you must have it with you. Can't you leave it at home for one little weekend? Just have fun at the park, and if you think you're going to miss your gun too much, you can always bring a picture of it. Just don't reach for that picture too quickly. One of your buddies might think your reaching for something else.


  1. Carrying concealed weapons redefines "enjoyment of state parks" - now gun toters can pick off birds and animals, and you know they will. Sad and scary.

  2. I agree with you 100%. There is absolutely no need to have a loaded gun in a National Park. You and I both know that the four legged animal population would agree with us.

  3. "Until now, people weren't walking around with guns, so it can't be other campers."

    -- and it is exactly that sort of head in the sand refusal to understand the world that makes 'the gun people' think you don't get it. Plenty of people have been armed in national parks up until now. I know it is hard to believe but neither this rule nor the magic 'gun free zone' signs actually causes guns to vaporize when carried into/past them.

    As for the portion where you say:

    'Which do you think is going to happen first, or more often: A law-abiding citizen with a permit to carry a concealed weapon will use his gun to protect himself or his property? Or, there will be a tragic accident involving a drunk and a gun, an animal and a gun, or a little kid and a gun?"

    I totally agree that what will happen first or more often is that there will be a news report that falls into your second category before/more often than the first but this is primarily because of what tends to be reported in the media.

    I look forward to your article next week that calls for all cell phones to be locked in the trunk with the battery removed. I mean, you can't/shouldn't talk on them when driving anyway. Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year.

    Having spent quite a bit of timing hiking in the remote mountains (not in national parks) both armed and unarmed, I can say that yes indeed I have enjoyed the experience more when I was armed.

  4. The people that would poach wildlife (illegal activity) and carry firearms while drunk (illegal activity) never cared about the ban on firearms in national parks. Equating these kind of people with all of the law abiding responsible citizens who would like to exercise their inalienable right to self defense shows what kind of a bigot you are.

  5. You folks who are bashing firearm owners are morons. Responsible gun owners are not going to poach game, nor get drunk and slaughter your family. On the contrary they may just save your pathetic life. Do you really think a national park is some sort of safe haven from all things bad? All the law enforcement at our disposal is not going to stop a determined criminal from preying on the unarmed. As a citizen it is your duty to protect yourself, and loved ones. So grow up!

  6. Lloyd Garver is so out of touch with reality. Seriously Lloyd, you should of taken all that money you spent at Berkeley, and bought a clue. Truly this is the worst tripe I have read in some time.

  7. You're a sad person who obviously has never seen a hungry bear in the wild.

  8. The right to self-defense is a basic human right. Crossing an imaginary boundary on a map does not mean that our rights should be invalidated.

  9. Having grown up in Glacier Nat'l Park and the surrounding MT countryside I will share from experience that bears hate the sound of people, until they are hungry. Rabid coyote's are not unheard of... I've met 2. A .45 is noisy enough to scare off a bear, and lethal enough for a coyote.
    also... have you ever hit a deer with your vehicle? I have, and guess how many were killed right off vs. how many struggled to get away with a broken spine. And as much as it 'appeals' to me to have to straddle a flailing set of antlers to slit a throat with a pocket knife I do believe that my GUN is a much quicker, kinder, SAFER way to operate. As far as the crazies or the drinkers, lets not only take away their guns, but their cars.

    Another aspect I haven't seen mentioned enough... have you ever gotten lost in big timber country? I have. 3 shots in the air, wait... repeat, and anyone who is familiar with shot patterns will offer aid. A gun report carries much further than even a bull-horn. Oddly enough of all the people discovered after the spring thaw, not a single corpse I'm aware of (which is more than 30) has had a gun in their gear. Maybe people are like me in that when they have a gun pointed at their penis they are a little more conscious of safety overall?

    Not to sound totally too much in favor though, concealed is the wrong way to hike. I far and away prefer a well secured hip holster, especially on someone else as it shows a responsible gun owner over someone who packs as an afterthought in their waste band.

  10. As another has pointed out, your argument fails here:
    "But what is it that they feel a need to protect themselves from? Until now, people weren't walking around with guns, so it can't be other campers."

    The problem is, the prohibition on licensed individuals exercising their concealed carry permit in national parks only prevents LAW ABIDING citizens from carrying weapons. Those who don't care about the law (you know, thieves, murderers, rapists) will carry guns whether or not the law allows them to. All laws like this only disarm law abiding citizens, and prevent them from defending themselves from the criminals who WILL carry a gun regardless of it's legality.

  11. I'm a criminal defense attorney in the state of Georgia, and I am glad to see this law passed. I defend the legal rights of people who are charged with horrible crimes, often so charged because they committed them. I have found that violent acts can take place anywhere, even in the beautiful serenity of a park. After a crime has taken place and someone is charged, I defend that person against injustice by assisting them in exercising their constitutional right to a jury trial. Before a criminal acts takes it's toll on my family, I defend my family and myself by exercising my constitutional right to carry a firearm. I'm not picking off birds or hunting bear, I'm just trying to enjoy the great outdoors peacefully. If that peace is disturbed it will not be because I had a gun, but the outcome of that disturbance may well be determined by the fact that I could, and did, carry one.

  12. FRS and Nathan said it for me. People should not be allowed to write about what they dont know......and its this mentality that is destroying our country....people being an expert on what they do not know.

  13. Sounds like this didn't quite get the response you expected. Thank God for common sense. I hope you find yourself one day saved by a responsible, armed citizen.

  14. I wrote into the federal register back when this was under proposal. Seems to have been finalized w/out any particular interest by the NSPS to address the thousands of comments they received; kind of makes you think it was a predetermined outcome, doesn't it? I can't wait for the outrage when Smokey does get killed, or some child by a trigger happy concealer. BTW, I do have a carry permit, but see NO NEED to have a gun in the national park.

  15. There is no need at all to carry in a national park. Carl Stayner won't come across you or your loved ones. Julie Williams and Laura Winans' murderer has been brought to justice. Alicia Reynolds may have thought she didn't need a gun either. The list goes on. For the record I feel safer around permit holders than non-permit holders. At least one of those groups has actually passed a background check. Guess which one it is Lloyd.

  16. I don't understand why gun control advocates presume that because I legally carry a gun I will shoot up the hillside or get drunk and kill hikers.

    Yes drunks can behave badly and harm people with cars, guns, chainsaws, etc. We have laws that punish those folks - and prohibit them from carrying guns (like they would obey the law anyway).

    Hey - I have a better idea, lets ban alcohol instead!!

    If I'm going to a park to poach, why the heck would I respect a park restriction on guns?

    I carry a gun for the defense of myself and my family, whether in the city or the woods. If you feel you don't need one, that's ok. I don't understand what happened to make you so afraid that I will kill you and all the precious children because I carry one.

    I promise I won't. I also promise I won't run you down with my car when you are walking along the side of the road. In fact, if god-forbid your life is threatened by a bear, coyote or lunatic drunk with gun and I am able to protect your life - I will. So will 99.9% of those who choose to carry.

  17. Great column, Lloyd. 73% of the public comments made on this rule opposed it, as did every living and former director of the National Park Service and environmental groups across the board. The fight over this rule is far from over. It will be firmly in the Obama administration's sights (bad pun), and the rule was also issued without the required environmental study, so it's legally suspect. This was a last gasp effort to appease a special interest by the most unpopular president in modern history. It won't last. Our National Parks are already some of the safest places in America and the NRA - having proved how powerless it really is in the recent elections - will not have its way here.

  18. well said my friend.. its a shame families will have to worry about this now when they go to th parks. thanks for speaking up


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