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Sen. Obama Non-committal on Carrying Loaded Weapons in National Parks


Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama believes in Americans' rights to own guns, but isn't so sure there's a need for them to be carried in national parks.

The senator made that comment Friday during a campaign stop in Casper, Wyoming, where he talked with a reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune.

When asked about whether he would support concealed carry in national parks, Sen. Obama said this:

I believe in Second Amendment rights and I believe in the rights of hunters and sportsmen to bear arms and use them in a responsible way. I would want to review the National Park initiative to make sure that there was actually a rationale for it. People generally don't have hunting licenses in national parks, and if they don't have a hunting license, the question then is what are they going to use the firearms for? Presumably protection -- if there was a bear that people came across, but I'd want to see the statistics in terms of how many actual bear attacks there have been before we decide that this is something that would be necessary, only because there are a lot of people who use the national parks. You could forsee the possibility of accidents. In wilderness areas where you know there's hunting, people take certain precautions. In national parks, people aren't expecting to have to take those same precautions. There are kids running around. I think there are a whole set of issues that I'd want to examine.


This talk of guns in the park is such a non-issue that even our presidential candidates are unaware what the contention is. The senator seems to think that bears are the problem. The problem is actually a states rights versus federal rights argument. Can the states issue carry permits that the federal government is required to honor? The NPS has so far said "no". Under our Federal system of government I don't see how a law passed by the Congress will pass Constitutional muster, without some enabling legislation that would cause a federal concealed carry permit to be instituted. In parks such as Yellowstone the Federal government has exclusive jurisdiction (i.e. no state law enforcement is allowed). How would this law work there?

I see that the Senator also included that there was his need to examine other issues involved. This small facet of his thoughts shows to me he is aware that a snap answer isnt appropriate. Sounds like he is aware that there is probality of accidents ( be adults or children running around). There are laws and there is the spirit of the law. I havent necessarly been a Obama fan but I must say I think his response seems to reflect a need to view a larger picture.( what was the context of where he was asked and what time was allowed for him to respond.). Aside from this, I have wondered how a park's jurisdictional status plays into this. Some Parks have absolute jurisdiction, some joint and ?

I sure hope people will take care of our land and keep it as beautiful as God intended it to be.. I never leave home without my weapon,either in the woods or in my travels,been a cwp for many,many years now. The old saying,"pry it from my cold dead hand".

Obama’s response seems to be a nice political answer! Not really answering the question, just putting it off to “examine later”. I hope this issue is resolved before the next administration takes office (whoever that is)

How will the NPS handle the carrying permit of gun owners? Easy go by the states regs just like they do with hunting licenses.

It comes down to that the few think they should control every aspect of our lives. THEY KNOW WHATS BEST FOR US!

Interestingly, tom, the state regs generally don't apply to Yellowstone National Park, which has its own judicial system and its own history. It could, however, apply to Grand Teton. (For instance, look at fishing regs in both parks). And, yet, those parks, in terms of access, are generally administered together (though sometimes you have to go through gates at both parks). It would be tricky, at least in the case of these sister Wyoming parks. But, that is probably an exception to the rule due to Yellowstone's unique judicial history.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

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