Enjoy Your Gun – You Can’t Use It

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Although recent legislation being snuck through the House as a ryder to the credit package will make it legal to carry guns in National Parks, you can’t use them. Shooting or destruction of any animal in a National Park is illegal – even if a bear is in your campsite. Be happy you can carry your gun, you can’t use it. Guess someone should have thought of that before they wasted all that time and taxpayer money writing an essentially useless bill.

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7 commentsOn Enjoy Your Gun – You Can’t Use It

  • Loyd,

    I have to respectfully but strongly disagree with you terming this bill as useless. I am a vehement advocate of self defense/gun rights, the environment, animal rights and I’m NOT a hunter. Mostly an average Joe backpacker that loves the mountains and outdoors.

    Although I am 99% sure I would never have to use a weapon against a 4 legged or 2 legged threat, I love to solo camp throughout the Sierras and the ability to protect myself against the 1% chance of a real threat to my life is priceless. And while it is perfectly legal and safe to carry a weapon throughout most of the mountains, why was it suddenly a felony if my trail crossed through a national park? If anything, the chance of running into a bear that has lost all fear of humans, or some drugged out yahoos is greatly increased while in the popular national parks, IMHO. But again, trust me, the last thing I would ever want to do is injure any animal, especially in their natural habit of which I am a visitor.

    I think there is a bunch of misinformation about this bill, as if suddenly all the rest of the strong firearms laws cease to exist, and it’ll be the ‘wild west’ in Yosemite. Brandishing, illegally discharging, firing at protected animals, will still be very punishable crimes. But it was just plain silly that prior to this bill there were magical invisible lines throughout the Sierras (and millions of other acres of wild lands in the US) where one could carry a human’s last chance at self defense against a life threatening attack, yet on the other side the line it was suddenly a major crime.

    I obviously have no issue with banning weapons from areas such as the Lincoln Memorial and other urbanized National Parks/monuments that are normally well policed and public, but why deny any law abiding citizen the right to self defense in remote areas?

    Sorry for the long winded response, obviously the media’s reaction to this bill has me fired up.

    Love the blog too!

    • Oh yes Geoff. I quite agree with the need for the ability to protect ones self and property. I was raised on a farm in the 1970s. Countless times my dad was forced to discharge guns to remove would-be thieves from his tool box. In fact, I own guns and will even be purchasing more soon enough. The problem is the legislation making firearms illegal in national parks didn’t spring up overnight. It took effect in the 1980s as part of the Brady Bill after the attempted assasination of Reagan (which didn’t happen in a National Park btw it happened outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. ). So, why now? Why wasn’t it challenged 25 years ago? Or 20 years ago during Bush Sr.’ s administration? Or even the start of George W’s administration? Why is it so important NOW that it wasn’t important then? And THEN to sneak it through as a rider bill on a bill that’s really important…why?

      Really I hope people understand that hunting in Yosemite is still illegal and killing an animal under any circumstances will still get you a fine. I don’t want people to get the mistaken idea that because you can carry your gun on your trucks gun-rack it means you’re free to shoot wildlife. Destruction of trees or other features within the park is also illegal. The only wildlife you can shoot are the two legged kind and only then if you fear for your life.

      I’m totally not looking forward to the day I publish a post titled “Yosemite Visitor Shot by Visitor”.

      Thanks for the great response, Geoff. I like it when people aren’t afraid to express their opinions and ask questions, even if it’s contradictory to my belief. It’s only through asking questions that we learn. Please feel free to comment or debate points at any time. No one should ever feel like they can’t ask “why?”

  • I have backpacked, cross-country skied, hiked, and climbed throughout the Sierra for well over four decades, often traveling solo on roads, trails, and in back-country. My total time on back-country trails adds up to a quantity measurable in years, and that doesn’t include the non-backpacking activities.

    I have never – not once! – felt even the remotest desire or need to carry a firearm in the backcountry. Why in the world anyone other than the truly paranoid or those with bad intentions would think they needed a firearm in _national_ _park_ back-country I cannot possibly imagine.

    There is no threat from wildlife that warrants carrying a weapon. The back-country threats from humans are so remote and unlikely as to be dismissed.

    The reason for this change in the law regarding weapons in national parks was, pure and simple, a gift tossed to the gun lobby to reassure them of the power they still wield over Washington politics.

    I’m not anti-hunting nor necessarily anti-gun. But this little legal maneuver was entirely unnecessary and will likely cause more problems than it could possibly fix.

  • Great to see you’re a gun owner too, and I definitely respect your feelings on the matter. In fact, just as with urban crime, my solution is always to prosecute the hell outta anyone that misuses a firearm, including merely brandishing. And, I am 110% on your side regarding destruction of wildlife or trees or whichever, throughout the Sierras, not just the National Parks. Even to the point where although I understand that legal hunting can have some positive effects for artificial population control, I still have a big issue with it, believing that it basically only serves to satisfy our ingrained hunting/killing instincts at the cost of our last little bit of wild ecosystem. Why we can’t just let natural predators flourish and stay out of their way is boggling to me.

    I suppose my biggest knee jerk reaction was to seeing the 6-7 headlines on major newsources like Yahoo, leading the casual reader to think a visit to Yosemite would now include a bunch of large agressive yee-haws walking around with holstered pistols and shotguns over their shoulders. Far from it! I can guarantee that park rangers and sheriffs would never let that happen; so why the same old fear-mongering by Big Media??!!

    Regarding the timing on this bill: although I’m not familiar with why the ban first came about, or how why Bush jr. waited until the 11th hour to reverse it, I must admit that I greatly cherish any tiny victory for the 2nd ammendment these days, especially in California. It is already so damn difficult for the law abiding average guy to purchase a firearm in CA, and there are relentless attacks from every angle on existing rights, coming from Sacramento, Los Angeles and SF. Even now there sits 2-3 bills in the state house that will greatly impact basic self defense rights if passed. This is why any push back is welcomed by me (especially with the current national power shift).

    So again, I must apologize for my long winded response, just wanted to clarify where I was coming from. And my solution to your/our worries is to patrol and harshly penalize those that abuse the laws and wildlife, making it known that right to self defense is nothing like being a violent, armed jerk. As you pointed out above, and I wholly believe, the right to use a firearm is the last resort and only in a life-or-death situation.

    BTW, to make a long story, well, longer, I have to add that my main love is to try and stealthily shoot animals with my 200mm, not my 10mm…. ;D

    • Good discussion guys. Thanks for your thoughts. While writing my previous response I started thinking about Randy Morgenson, a former Yosemite/Sequoia – Kings Canyon (SeKi) backcountry ranger who went missing a couple years ago while on patrol in SeKi (read The Last Season by Eric Blehm if you’re interested – it’s a great story). Although he was trained and issued a gun as part of his gear he didn’t carry it and left it locked in the locker in his cabin most of the time. I think that’s a pretty good assessment of the dangers one could face in the back country.

      On a purely unrelated note, there were times as a kid camping at local reservoirs that my dad got into his pickup with a loaded gun and drove to assist county park rangers writing tickets to Hells Angels. The ranger would sit on one side of the road writing the ticket and my dad on the other with the barrel of the shotgun pointed out the window. That was a more urban setting though and back then county rangers weren’t part of the county Sheriff or allowed to carry firearms.

      Once again great responses guys. Thanks!

  • Dan,

    I grew up in San Diego and spent many years camping/hiking in the mountains just east of the city.

    Out there, there are/is two very real threats. The first being from the regions proximity to the border, there is a very real danger from smugglers/drug transporters and general urban dwellers out to the mountains and desert for a weekend of trouble making.

    The second threat is from desperate, encroached-upon mountain lions. By myself, I have never worried about this, especially in the Sierras. But with children, my wife, and/or labs, in the SoCal region especially, desperate big cats pose a real danger (which is a sad situation, summed up).

    And, not to turn this into a political pissin’ match, I truely don’t seek that, but keep in mind W lifted the ban near the end of his term, it was Obama that immediately suspended W’s order, and a federal court that provided an injunction against it. Not the so called “gun lobby”.

    Lastly, everyone realize that this only pertains to legal Concealed Permit holders, in the state they were issued! This does not allow anyone to go ‘packin’ without a concealed permit! And those are nearly impossible to come by in CA, and CA does not recognize those permits from other states. It was/is/would be a felony for anyone to carry a loaded, concealed weapon inside or outside a national park. People for or against this measure should definitely read the original press release from December 2008: http://www.doi.gov/news/08_News_Releases/120508.html

    A snippet:
    “Existing regulations regarding the carrying of firearms remain otherwise unchanged, particularly limitations on poaching and target practice and prohibitions on carrying firearms in federal buildings.”

    Again, my knee jerk reaction stemmed from Yahoo news and others declaring that allowing licensed (and therefore default trained) permit holders to carry a concealed weapon in a park, as they can do in the rest of the state, would suddenly cause places like Yosemite to be a violent wild west. Blatant (albeit common) fear mongering by severely slanted media at the expense of the legal firearm owners, not criminals.

    Ok, I’ll stop ranting again…. 😀

    Dan, btw, love your pics! They really encourage me to drag up my heavier equipment while backpacking.

  • I consider myself to be an environmentalist – and a gun owner. And frankly, I know many who fall into the same category! I don’t personally hunt, but I used to manage a hunting and fishing store. I’m also a woman who has hiked and camped alone, as well as with my husband and family. Some years ago, in the middle of the night in one of Yosemite Valley’s crowded campgrounds, another family was attempting to set up their tent along side the road of the campground, not in an established spot. My husband left me with our children to go inform the camp host. The “gentleman” from this uneducated family came up to our family tent, UNZIPPED OUR TENT’S ZIPPER (!!!), peered inside, and asked, “Would you help me set up my tent?” This yahoo had no clue how disrespectful and stupid he was acting! (A point of which I HAD to inform him). I didn’t need a firearm to defend myself. However, I was fearful at first and then, angry, to say the least.

    The point is, there are idiots out there and some of them can be dangerous to themselves and others. I hope that none of us ever have to discharge a firearm in any manner that can hurt another human, animal, or living thing. But, I do agree that if I can carry a firearm in the National Forest and I’ll be crossing into National Park boundaries, at least I can do it legally.


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