Friday, February 29, 2008

Carrying weapons in National Parks

I haven't wanted to write about the controversy about allowing weapons in National Parks in because it is a highly divisive issue and very politically charged. I also do not see the need for changing the current rule of no loaded or assembled weapons in National Parks (some parks in Alaska may have different rules) and I think allowing weapons could do real damage. I'm not sure I can add much to the discussion that hasn't been said but this is a blog and my chance to air my views. National Parks Traveler has a very good post on this subject.

I do understand the motivations to carry weapons into backcountry areas and to a lesser extent more populated areas. I take a gun when I go camping, I don't when hiking but that is at least partially due to weight considerations. I've never needed the gun but I have felt safer and have had minor trouble on some occasions. It is not a weapon that would be effective against bear or cougar. When I am traveling both inside and outside of Parks, I disassemble my gun inside the park, making it legal to transport inside my vehicle. I am aware that even a concealed carry permit does not give me the right to carry the weapon anywhere, definitely not into most government buildings or an airplane and state laws additionally limit it can be carried.

One commentator suggested that the rule should be discarded because of threats from wild animals. There are a few animals that may threaten people in parks, specifically cougars (mountain lions or pumas), black bears, and grizzly bears. The number of attacks on people by these animals is small but I can understand the desire to have a weapon. However, most fatal attacks by cougars and black bears are surprise attacks leaving little time to defend oneself with a gun. Others, see Herrero's Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance book, have written of the problems with depending on a gun, especially a handgun, against grizzly bears. Other defensive options also exist.

A major possible problem I see is for people carrying weapons to fire on animals they feel are threatening but are not directly attacking. Killing a bear or cougar or rattlesnake as anticipatory defense in a National Park degrades the purpose of the Park and may contribute to the decline of endangered species. Also, these is poaching of game animals around several western parks. Allowing loaded weapons in these parks would make it more difficult to reduce poaching.



At 20/3/08 15:31, Blogger mossymom said...

Wild Sky languishes over Guns in National Parks


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