Sunday, October 23, 2016

National Park Service: Discharging Firearms for Self Defense Illegal

Image from

The National Park Service is giving bad legal advice to people who visit their web page and attempt to find out about firearms policy at various national parks. 

For Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, they claim that firearms "cannot be used as a wildlife protection strategy". From
Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park (such as visitor centers, government offices, etc.); those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. Firearms may not be discharged in this national park (except during legal hunting seasons) and can not be used as a wildlife protection strategy. Bear spray and other safety precautions are the proven methods for preventing bear and other wildlife interactions. See the Bear Safety and Wildlife Viewing pages.
Having a firearm as a "wildlife protection strategy" is not illegal.  It is not something the park has any say over.  It is ruled by state law, not park regulations. The Supreme Court has ruled that the carry of firearms for self defense is a constitutional right, in Heller v. District of Columbia.

For Yosemite National Park in California, they claim that "Discharging a firearm for any reason is illegal." From
It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, visit the California Attorney General's website.

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. Discharging a firearm for any reason is illegal.
Discharging a firearm for defense of self and others is legal.  You may have to show that your purpose was defense, and that a reasonable person would have done what you did, but it is not illegal.

Going to the Frequently Asked Questions Implementation of Firearms Law link gives you this inept "DRAFT - Do Not Distribute" pdf. From

As this document is only a "draft" from 2010, that was never supposed to be distributed to the public, I would suggest this modest addition:

Q.  Why was the National Park Service allowed to ignore the Second Amendment for nearly a hundred years? 

A.  The ban on firearms was an administrative rule designed to reduce poaching in the parks.  As the penalties were small compared to the costs of challenging an administrative rule on constitutional grounds, the National Park Service ignored the Second Amendment until the people pushed Congress to act.

There are numerous other FAQs that some imaginative and paranoid person at NPS put together in this DRAFT.  It has stayed up at the site, never being updated, for the last six years.  One of the most amusing is this:
Q. I am frightened by firearms and am leaving the park. Can I have my entrance fee refunded? My annual pass refunded?

A. Park superintendents have the authority to provide a refund if the circumstances warrant it.
Have any refunds ever been given?  Perhaps it could be determined with a FOIA request.

The NPS is not known for its high level of competence. I suspect a mundane case of bureaucratic inertia, compounded by the usual lack of "blood in the streets" following the incremental restoration of Second Rights. From
Mark Magnuson, the chief ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park, was hard-pressed to come up with examples of the law's effects. But one was immediate confusion from visitors.

"The year after the law change, we had several complaints from visitors about people openly carrying firearms -- which was now legal," he said. "So it was a little bit of an educational learning curve for members of the public, but not a huge deal." 
It is time for the National Park Service to move into the 21st Century, and do away with their 20th Century prejudices.

They should update their websites to reflect reality and update their hastily made DRAFT FAQs from 2010.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch


ScienceABC123 said...

Note to National Park Service: I don't need your permission to defend myself, even in a National Park. Defending oneself is a natural right of being alive. If you can't accept that concept then you need to find another line of work.

Anonymous said...

I have a gold pass for parks. I know the beaurocracy of government all too well. I I have been fighting the VA for over 49 years to get my service connected disabilities benefits. the last letter of denial took 12.5 years. the claim went to the DC board of appeals. it was remanded to Phoenix for settlement. and they refused to settle again. I had six months to appeal. I fired the VA appointed attorney that had had the case for 7.5 years and accomplished nothing. then she tried for three months to get me to let her represent me for 20 % of my award Her take would be over 400k. I refused to accept her and she kept the file for 8 months after she was fired. I filed to reopen on new evidence in December of 2014 October third of this year I had a video conference with DC. In the denial letter of 2009 the phoenix hearing officer admits he is the one denying my claim for over 30 years. he claims I lied about serving in Germany, Not that I am not 75% disabled. He states everybody knows Germany is a three year tour and you are a Vietnam veteran and were only in for three years. Well My DD-214 discharge papers state my last duty station was Germany for 8.5 months TDY. he has had over 30 years to read the copy of my DD-214 that is in the file. His word has been final up to now. If I do not win this time I am going national with a major law suit. I have every bit of documentation to prove my claims. the fact is I did serve in Germany and by VA regulations I am at least 75% disabled. anything over 70% is paid at 100%. VA owes me 46 years of back unpaid benefits. I was drafted legally blind in my left eye since birth. I was always told as a kid that I would never be allowed in the military with one eye. then I get drafted. Then I get sent to a combat zone My elbow gets cut off and put back on, My hearing is destroyed by cannon fire. My teeth are destroy by a worthless dentist. I finally put an end to the dentists Torture. He decided to stop working on me when I showed up with my M-16 on full automatic. Then I contract recurring malaria. the residual effect of recurring malaria are extensive. shake my hand to hard and my shoulders dislocate. My back will not stay aligned. The Phoenix VA told me the next time your shoulders dislocate come here and let us document it. Who drives 189 miles with a dislocated shoulder? I learned to put them back in place by my self. 90 days from October third I should know if my claim is approved. I am chomping at the bit to sue if it is not settled to my satisfaction. amount of the claim and damages.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that under those circumstance it just might create a shoot out situation. No ranger is going to take my gun for defending myself against a dangerous wild animal. The government has no authority to require a person to buy bear spray. It is my choice to buy a gun and I will use it when I determine it is appropriate. My self defense is my responsibility. Article four United States Constitution says I can go any where in this country and my rights go with me. The government manages the land that belongs to the people , government owns nothing. what it claims it owns it bought with our money for use by all. bears are not sovereign citizens they are dangerous unpredictable wild animals. they do not vote , they do not shoot back but they can eat you.

Anonymous said...

Wildlife protection strategy?

Ummm, that would mean, as a simple matter of construction, you cannot shoot a bear in order to protect Bambi the deer, not that you cannot defend yourself by exercise of the right to arms. It is just worded the way it is, and p;aved where it is, in order to make people THINK they cannot DEFEND THEMSELVES against a bear attack.

Anonymous said...

' The government has no authority to require a person to buy bear spray.'

"It's a Tax" - Justice Roberts.
This is why the "individual mandate" within Obamacare is so pathetically dangerous and out of bounds. For if government can compel you to purchase health insurance or punish you with a tax for refusal, well, then it can compel you to purchase bear spray...and punish you if you refuse to do so with a "tax". Ironically, it could then also compel you to purchase a firearm and even compel its use too - as it compels health insurance use with "well child visits" and "school requirements they be carried out.

Wouldn't that be hilarious to see anti gunners finally figuring it they begin to use the Second Amendment as a defense to mandates to purchase firearms?! That is what I would call Karma....

And hey Paul - Well said!

Jay Dee said...

The answer is easy.

Call a park ranger.

Feed the park ranger to the bear.

While the bear is mauling the park ranger, pick up his/her/whatever's gun.

Shoot the bear.

Notify the ranger station when leaving where they can find the body.