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Thread: if guns are allowed in the park?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    30min from the "Y"


    What Sam in his hoplophobic way was trying to say is it is illegal to discharge a firearm if the target is a tree or a tin can or some other form of inanimate object.It is legal to fire at an animate object that is intent on harming you.Freud had some interesting thoughts on the irrational fear of firearms.Does the shoe fit Sam?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    The Glades


    actually i have no fear of firearms at all having served 4 years in the military....i have concern with a lot of the people who will be carrying in the park....i've already heard one visitor say he wasn't afraid of a bear because he had a gun...that's the attitude that causes me concern.
    I started with nothing, and I have most of it left.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Sevier Co., TN


    Once we start believing that one group, because of status or profession, has a special privileged, then we've lost any reason to fight for the whole.

    One person caused you concern? One person. Seeing an area destroyed by tourism in my short lifetime causes me much more concern than one person saying they'd shoot a bear. And if that bear is close enough, not running away, it probably needed to be put down anyway. I guess people only matter when they matter to us. That's a **** shame.

    The funniest whine I've heard about this whole situation is, "Oh, law, everybody will have a gun." Well, no. Grow up. If they don't have a permit, and they have a handgun, then they are carrying one illegally.

    Ours is a cultural construct that is out of control. See school shootings. I'd rather be one armed and able to control my own construct -- my life.

    I hope, honestly, that I don't come across as brutish or mean. I'm not picking on anyone. Everyone's idea of safety is their own. Unfortunately the jumps to conclusion are so often so wrong that instead of licking the wounds of our pride or politicking, we fail to see that incidents occur, and we miss our opportunities to educate, instead we regulate.

    Until you can change our culture you won't change crime. Especially gun crimes. Imagine, if health care is too difficult and expensive to contrive, then how will we get guns out of the hands of those that would harm us? Door to door? Metal detectors? Sounds like a book burning would be the next logical step.

    I hope I didn't offend. Really.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    i've already heard one visitor say he wasn't afraid of a bear because he had a gun

    That statement reminded me of one of my Smokies fishing partners. He is a law enforcement officer and always brings his .380 pistol with him on our backcountry fishing trips. When I first found out a few years ago that he was packing the .380 pistol, I asked him why he brought it. He told me in case he ran into a bad situation with a bear. I told him that his .380 pistol could make a bad situation with a bear much worse for the simple fact that all the .380 rounds would do is pizz the bear off if they didn't scare it off.

    While I will be carrying in the backcountry for protection from the two-legged "animals", I'm afraid that there will be a few people like my buddy who are not rational in their thinking and don't realize how much of a gun that it takes to put a bear down in a bad situation. They may actually wind up in more danger with a gun than without one. Time will tell.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    I agree. Carry a 10ml or larger.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Maryville, TN


    Maybe we should go back to the good ole days when only criminals carried in the park

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Northern Kentucky


    As others have said and I've said before when this topic comes up. I am not afraid of the bears and the cougars. Healthy respect yes, fear, no. I'm not going to go about molesting a bear or threatening cubs and I'm sure going to give it the right of way in any circumstance I may encounter one.

    It's the 2 legged predators I'm worried about. Even then, avoid them, walk away, don't go being John Wayne and looking for a fight but if it comes down to him or me, I would like to have the means at my disposal to make it him.

    Most of the firearms that are concealable are not sufficient to stop a bear in its tracks. Yes, the bear may die after a clip of .380 or 9mm is emptied into it, but not before it finished with you.

    I carry a S&W J frame in .357 mag. Even that, with typical self defense hollow points, is not sufficient gun to stop a bear attack immediately. It's better than a rock or a stick and would be a last line of defense but that's about it.

    I don't hunt bear but if I did and wanted to do it with a handgun, a concealed carry type firearm is not what I would use. At a minimum, I'd want a 44 single action with pretty hot loads or maybe a 357 with heavy solid bullets. Never really thought much about it since I've never hunted for bear. I'm thinking a 45-70, 444 Marlin, 338, 450 bushmaster, or the like would be more appropriate.

    Anyway, I'm glad the law has changed. Because it was against the law, I never carried a firearm in the park. Now, I have that option should I choose to do so. I pray I will never be faced with a situation where I will need to use it.


  8. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Burlington, KY


    At one time, I carried a small frame Glock, in the .357 Sig round, when I ventured into the backcountry of WV. One nice February day, I thought I was alone in the Otter Creek Wilderness Area when I heard brush breaking below the trail. I pulled the unchambered weapon, thinking the warm weather had brought the bears out early, but what I found was another fisherman. He had also decided to hit the backcountry that fine day. I had pulled a weapon on a fellow outdoorsman, granted it was unchambered, I still felt very bad about it. That was the last day I carried in the backcountry.

    I have also been within 15 yards of a charging grizzly in Yellowstone - I walked up on three of her cubs. I can tell you that a handgun, no matter what caliber, would have done me no good in that situation. If you can hit a target moving 25 MPH, while fight/flight is kicking in, you are a better man than me. Handguns are not the proper weapons for self-defense against four-legged threats.

    Of course, someone intent on committing a violent crime is not going to be concerned with carry laws. I have done quite a few of solo backcountry adventures in GSMNP and RMNP, and the two-legged predators are almost always the biggest threat in the backcountry. This just levels the playing field a bit.


  9. #19


    I think people tend to get somewhat fired up (as we say in Arkansas) when it comes to self-protection. Here's a good resource on bear attacks with real statistics:

    "In the last 100 years, 57 people have been killed by black bears in North America. The same number of people die of bee stings in the United States every year."

    I did some checking and a large number of those deaths were in Canada.

    We all know there have been some legitimate attacks in the Smokies/Cherokee NF in the last ten years or so. But I think we can also all agree that most if not all of those attacks were provoked by stupid human behavior, usually related to feeding bears and letting children approach bears. That can have tragic consequences.

    Here's the relevant federal statute relating to discharge of handguns in the Smokies:

    "All hunting or the killing, wounding, or capturing at any time of any wild bird or animal, except dangerous animals when it is necessary to prevent them from destroying human lives or inflicting personal injury, is prohibited within the limits of said park [i.e. both Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks]."

    16 U.S.C.A. 403c-3.

    In other words, the law allows you to use a weapon in legitimate self defense. That said, I promise that the National Parks Service would look pretty closely at whether there really was a necessity to 'prevent [bears] from destroying human lives or inflicting personal injury.' No one wants to see the bears shot at when they simply show natural interest in people. Moreover, not all the national parks have the same laws: Yellowstone is also opening up to concealed carry but there's apparently no self-protection excuse for discharging a firearm there.

    I would just encourage everyone contemplating carrying a gun in the park for 'bear protection' to ask themselves what they would do if they didn't have the gun. If there's an option that does not involve shooting the bear, please take it. You'll save the bear and probably save yourself a lot of hassle to boot.

    You do not want to have to cough up the money to 'defend yourself' from a criminal prosecution, either, believe me.


  10. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    SE Tennessee

    Default Guns in national parks and elsewhere

    I met a fellow who was retired from the NFS. We talked about the AT as this was part of his responsibility in some way for several years. He told me that at least two or three people are murdered every year on the AT for food, money or credit cards. But, he stated these are hushed up or people would avoid the AT. I'm like others, I'm more concerned about the two legged predators in the parks. As for bears, the best defense would be a bear spray repellent. Many people have guns but don't know how to use them properly or accurately. I've talked with people who have a gun for protection but never fired it!
    Caliber is in the hands of the user. I know of a policeman who killed a bear with a .38 Special which is not exactly a powerhouse.
    Mike Anderson, after your incident, why didn't you turn in the license number to the authorities? This might have prevented another incident later with someone else.
    See in the park!

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