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Guns in National Parks

If you were to listen to Brady Campaign material, National Parks are the safest places in the world.  Well, yes, they are generally pretty safe.  Just like most places in the United States, save maybe places like Detroit.  But the problem in National Parks is there’s no recourse to the authorities, or to good samaritans.  If you find yourself in trouble in a National Park, you’re largely on your own.

That’s why the trend toward larger illicit marijuana grow operations on federal land is should be disturbing:

Each camp is typically tended around the clock by guards who may be equipped with assault rifles, night-vision goggles, walkie-talkies and radios to monitor law-enforcement chatter.

I’ll be honest, considering when I’ve hiked out west, I’ve enjoyed traveling a bit off the beaten path, this makes me wonder if just having a pistol is enough, or whether an AR-15 might be a better option.  You end up getting into it with drug gangs, you’re effectively on your own.  Law enforcement help is going to be hours away.  I’m going to suggest if you’re going hiking on federal land that have been found to have grow operations, you need to carry thinking more along the lines of combat rather than a street confrontation.   If you think that’s paranoid, consider this:

So far this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, federal agents have raided 487 pot farms on forest-service land, where they destroyed 2.6 million marijuana plants, seized 138 firearms and made 369 arrests on felony drug charges.

That’s not a small problem, when you consider the how few federal lands are involved.

5 Responses to “Guns in National Parks”

  1. Dave R. says:

    “I’ll be honest, considering when I’ve hiked out west, I’ve enjoyed traveling a bit off the beaten path, this makes me wonder if just having a pistol is enough, or whether an AR-15 might be a better option.”

    Yes. Or at the very least, extra magazines and probably a backup handgun.

    I won’t bore you with second-hand stories, but my belief living in southern Oregon is there’s already been some violence that didn’t make front page headlines as long as it stayed between gangs or drug growers. Grow busts themselves are not uncommon here.

  2. The second quote does not bear out the first’s use of the word “typically.” Most growers were unarmed and some of the grows were uninhabited. But yes, being able to carry a firearm just in case would be nice.

  3. Hank Archer says:

    Most “wild” areas in the West are either BLM or Forest Service. There are no special firearms laws in these areas, just state and county laws, so there is usually no problem with open carry of pistol or long-gun.

    Growers try to locate in areas were there is very little chance of casual contact with wild area users. The groups most likely to stumble upon them are hunters. You can run into them anywhere though, so it pays to be alert to signs like pipes and other irrigation fixtures and structures in unroaded areas.

  4. Jake says:

    The key word is “generally”.

    That happened only about 30 minutes from the Virginia Tech campus. It’s a National Forest, not a National Park, but the area is isolated like some of the National Park areas you’re talking about. Law enforcement is normally 20 – 40 minutes away, unless a Deputy just happens to be in the area.

  5. Joe says:

    I really wouldn’t worry too much about guards. It’s the damn booby traps you need to watch out for.

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