Great news came out today with regard to the Department Of Interior’s policy concerning the carry of of concealed firearms in National Parks. In a News Release issued by the D.O.I., the now finalized rule would "…allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if, and only if, the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located." Not only am I glad to see this rule changed, I am actually shocked that it occurred at all with the direction our country has been taking for quite some time. We don’t talk a lot of politics here at Woods Monkey, because we want to focus on things that are fun and that make the outdoors experience more enjoyable. But, part of that enjoyment stems from being safe while doing so. The knowledge and ability that a person now has to protect themselves while visiting our National Parks goes to the core of who we are as a people. Our country was founded on a set of principles based on freedom and personal responsibility without government intrusion, even though some have forgotten those principles and the lessons our founders taught us not too long ago.
In usual fashion, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution plugged in a quote at the end of their report from a 25 year veteran of the National Park system who stated, that park rangers are most concerned about the safety of wildlife, from black bears to coyote. He was specifically quoted as saying, “Whether it’s a varmint in their mind or a trophy animal, and they’ve got this loaded weapon immediately available to them… you react to it.” First, the most obvious thing is that any kind of person interested in shooting varmints or a trophy animal won’t use a concealed weapon like a .38 or a 9mm to take the shot. Second, if someone was intent on breaking federal law by hunting in National Parks, I don’t think they would have waited around for this policy update to occur. That’s synonymous with the expectation that a criminal won’t rob banks or liquor stores because it’s illegal to carry a weapon. It’s a silly notion, and just plain hyperbole.
Notice that the Atlanta Journal Constitution didn’t get a quote from a citizen who said, "Wow, that’s great because I’ll feel much better being able to protect myself and my family when we are out in remote locations away from law enforcement or help of any kind." I got my annual National Park pass and I’ve been to quite a few of them. Some of the places you can explore are extremely remote. The only person there to protect you is yourself. Even driving some of the main roads can take you into isolated areas where you have to depend on your own knowledge and skill set to come out in one piece.
This law was passed because fifty-one Senators and other officials requested the change. It is in keeping with the current trend of more and more states allowing legal concealed carry of a weapon. Even with the non-stop attacks from the left, this trend has continued for over fifteen years when it began its movement in Florida. It’s as it should be. These kinds of laws only bind the hands of the lawful. Anyone intent on committing crimes or doing harm to others aren’t going to pay attention to regulations or laws such as these. The Supreme Court has already ruled that law enforcement are not in place to provide personal protection for every individual each and every day. Law Enforcement is there to protect society in general. More recently, the Supreme Court also ruled in Heller that the Second Amendment (yes I capitalized it) is an individual right to keep and bear arms and it is not dependent on whether or not the individual is in a militia.
However, carrying a firearm to protect yourself or your family is a great responsibility. Those choosing to do so should seek training and practice regularly. That’s not a political point of view. That’s just sound advice about something that can cause grave injury or death. It’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly, and it should be understood that serious consequences can arise out of the mishandling of that responsibility. Even justified use of a firearm can still end up with a civil suit being brought against an individual.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution stated that the rule extended only to those concealed carry permit holders for the state in which the National Park resides. I am not an attorney, however, upon reading the actual News Release from the Department Of The Interior, it looks to me like it could extend out to permit holders from other states which have a reciprocity agreement with the state where the National Park is located. The release said, "…if and only if, the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located." Most states with concealed carry laws have reciprocity agreements with other states that authorize non-residents to carry concealed as long as they have a concealed carry permit their state of residence and as long as their state of residence has such a reciprocity agreement. So, it may take a bit of time for the particulars to be brought out, but it looks to be written to include concealed carry holders outside of the state as well, provided certain conditions are met.
So, go out and play. There are places of such beauty and magnitude that you don’t even realize it until you’re standing there. Pictures don’t do those destinations justice. The National Parks of the United States of America are some of the most beautiful in the world. And, now, they’ve gotten just a little bit safer as well.