When Congress passed a law permitting law-abiding citizens to carry handguns in National Parks, the anti-gun community raised an old, tired argument. There’ll be “blood in the streets,” they said, not to mention poaching, destruction of monuments and other chaos at the hands of armed buffoons.
Bill Wade of the Coalition of National Parks Retirees said gun owners would surely fire indiscriminately at anything that moves. ”You are sleeping under the trees and you hear a noise,” Wade told the Los Angeles Times. “You look out of the tent and see a shape and start firing.”
Give me a break. It turns out that the predictions of gun owners–who said permitting firearms possession in national parks would increase safety–would more rooted in reality. Within weeks, armed citizens in national parks were able to defend themselves in several incidents against predators of both the two- and four-legged varieties.
Therein lies a point that some non-gun owners fail to realize–it isn’t just human beings that can pose a threat in the wilderness, but rabid or otherwise dangerous animals.
Case in point: An encounter with a grizzly bear in an Alaska state park last week by English professor Alyson Jones-Robinson. The bear appeared out of nowhere, growling, snapping its jaws and bluff charging Jones-Robinson, who was accompanied by her husky and two nieces, ages 13 and 9. She told the girls to slowly retreat and not to look back if the bear attacked her. Despite having a can of bear spray, Jones-Robinson had never felt so helpless.
“All I could think about was this bear is so close to me I can see its teeth,” she said in an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “I could have kissed it. I wished I had a gun.”
Jones-Robinson readied her bear spray. The grizzly charged. Her leashed dog tried to bite the oncoming bear. She sprayed the bear, but it knocked her down and the can rolled away. Fortunately at least some spray reached the bear’s face and it retreated momentarily. But the ordeal wasn’t over. The bear tried to maul Jones-Robinson’s dog, but the woman bravely beat the bear with her walking stick until it again backed off.
She then caught up with the girls and they began a terrifying walk out of the park. The bear continued to follow, occasionally bluff charging–Jones-Robinson believes it was sizing them up. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured, and Jones-Robinson says she’ll be better prepared if she has another encounter with a grizzly.
On Friday she bought a gun.