For over 25 years the Department of the Interior has held up a law that keeps concealed weapons out of our National Parks. Primarily set up as a means to keep National Parks safer by keeping weapons out of them and thus decreasing the possibility of some one getting injured by recklessly firing off a few rounds in the forest. The question has now been posed as to what the limit of this campaign to allow weapons in more public areas would be.
Opponents see dropping the ban as a way for the NRA to get a foothold in one area so it may run rampant through out the country, while others think that allowing weapons would make a park less safe and less family friendly. Also stating that animals rarely pose a significant threat, even when they do anything less than a .44 magnum (think Dirty Harry) would be ineffective.
Proponents of the ban see it as simply a 2nd amendment right and argue that it is a right that should not be taken away from us. Pro gun advocates also state that the evil doers of the world ignore laws anyway so they are certain guns are already in these “gun free” zones so why shouldn’t the law abiding responsible gun owners be allowed to defend themselves if necessary?
The Bush Administration recently eased the restrictions on guns in National Parks.
I personally do not see the issue as being a major concern. I do not think personal weapons should be banned in National Parks, especially concealed weapons so long as someone is trained and permitted to carry concealed. Instead I think the laws concerning gun ownership should be more strict and I also feel that any person found guilty of a crime involving a weapon should be punished more severely.
Several reports have also cited that hikers feel less safe knowing a gun is around. Ans that the majority of distance hikers would not carry a weapon due to weight concerns.
We could look at reports on both sides and make valid points but what it comes down to is understanding and training. Without either we will never come to an adequate solution.
Now my personal views on the matter are as follows; carrying a weapon is a right, however one must be trained appropriatly and not have simply fired a few times.
Concerning to human on human violence it happens everywhere and the National Parks are not exempt and I for one would prefer a fighting chance.
As far as animal attacks are concerned often loud noises will dissuade an attack, and there are non lethal methods as well,like air horns, bear bells and bear spray. The down side to noise makers is that bear bells are often called dinner bells(for the bears), and air horns are hit and miss in that if they don’t work you are at best mauled at worst dinner. Bear spray is great IF the wind is not blowing in your face. Most predatory animals are skilled hunters and like humans will approach downwind (if stalking) while the majority of attacks occur when a hiker startles and unsuspecting animal, which would mean you were upwind of them (wind blowing in your face) think of what would happen if you sprayed that bear spray up wind of you, now you are blinded, cant breath, in pain and the animal is still pissed off!! While wind has no effect at close range on a bullet. Which also leads me back to the training aspect. If you are trained and have good lethal shot placement any weapon will kill, it all comes down to proficiency.
In a broader since, do you carry a weapon in the backcountry? Whether it be a National Park or not do you go into the wilderness armed with a gun? If not, now that the ban has been lightened will you?