Camping is a great shared experience. It is a time for families to bond, and in some cases, for strangers to become friends. At campsites, people from all over come and share in the splendor of nature. When you have so many people, there are bound to be differences in the way they do the same activity. One significant difference many people may notice when camping around strangers is some people decide to bring their guns with them. So it poses the question, “Should I take a gun camping?”
You should bring a gun camping if you have been trained to use it properly, the legal documents for it, the local laws allow you to have it where you are camping, want it to feel safe, plan to use it for sport or hunting, and are willing to do the work of carrying it around and keeping it safe.
There are other very good reasons to carry a gun camping and we will share them in this article, and we will be discussing something that has been debated for a long time. Both sides of this discussion have been discussed over campfires, living rooms, cars on the way to National Parks, and online.
There are some people who feel strongly one way or another about this subject. Yet, there are still some out there who have not yet made up their mind. Hopefully, this article will give you something to think about and help you make a decision before you head out to the woods again.
Why you should bring a gun camping?
It is your legal right to bring a gun with you camping.
According to a law passed in 2009, you are well within your right to carry a gun when camping, fishing, and hunting in any National Park, provided you are following the State laws. As long as the owner is of legal age to own a firearm and is not in defiance of any other stipulation keeping them from owning or carrying a gun, it is okay for many people that is reason enough for them to bring their firearms camping and they are welcome to do so. They can get their gun and even have it loaded while they are out in the woods and at their campsite.
In the United States, under the second amendment, a US citizen has the right to own a gun. As long as the gun owner abides by all laws of the state they are in and has their proper paperwork; there should be no reason they cannot bring their gun with them camping. The law even states that while a person is either on their way to or from a campsite and at a campsite as well, they can openly carry their firearm, provided it is unloaded.
Taking a gun camping makes some people feel safe.
The same reason many people keep guns in their homes is the same reason people take their firearms camping. It helps them feel safe. When people go camping, they are surrounded by the elements and the wilderness. This sense of solitude can be unnerving at times, even to experienced campers, and having loaded firearms nearby helps them rest easy during the night and scarier times of the night.
Many campers would argue that they need their guns to keep them safe from animals such as bears and mountain lions. Even special bullets are made to deal with more minor pests like snakes that campers can buy for their guns.
Nature is unpredictable. Someone can go camping a hundred times and ninety-nine times nothing can happen, but on the one-hundredth time, there can be a bear that decides your campsite is a perfect place to scavenge for food. Wild animals are just that, wild. There is no way to predict their behavior. It is a gun owner's right to protect themselves and their protections against anything that may try to harm them. Campers rather have their guns and not need them than need them and not have them.
Also, there is the human factor of it all as well. Not everyone who goes camping or out to the woods has altruistic intentions. Campers, especially women who are camping, bring firearms with them in the unlikely instance they come across someone against whom they need to protect themselves.
When you are at a campsite, other people who are legally allowed to carry their firearms like you will be there as well. Not all of these people may have the same peaceful intentions as you, or they might not be as equally skilled and trained with that gun as you.
Having your own gun readily available to you would help if something happened involving one of these other armed people. Often these campsites are located far away from major roads or emergency responders; in times like these, it is those who are prepared who are the only thing that can stop something horrible from happening.
Some people take guns camping for sports.
Gun owners don't just get guns and let them collect dust on their gun racks or in closets. They purchase them and expect to use them, not on other people, though. Some several sports and activities are designed around guns and shooting. Some of these activities can be done at a shooting range, but there is something special about packing the targets, clay pigeons, or other materials needed and heading out to a safe place in the woods to practice.
Many camping parks and sites have locations for campers to practice their shot. These campsite target ranges are fun for the individual and can also bring strangers with a common interest together and help make memories that can last a lifetime.
There are plenty of places in the woods a family can go and practice their shooting. As long as they check with the park rangers and adhere to local guidelines for safely choosing a location and all the proper gun safety requirements, a family could enjoy a great camping trip where they can safely take their weapons and discharge them surrounded by nature with no chance of hurting anyone.
Many people take their guns camping to hunt.
One of the oldest professions and now a hobby of the world is hunting. People have hunted throughout history to feed their families, bond with others, and control animal populations. Even now, many families across the world, including the United States, still hunt for much of the meat they will feed their families.
During these hunting trips, many people bring their children and use this as an opportunity to bond, teach lessons and help the next generation develop skills and traits that will serve them in the future. Many would say hunting teaches patience, persistence, responsibility, and paying attention. Hunting is also a great way to get kids outside, teach them about nature and the importance of conservation in a way that makes it real.
Hunting has become more than just a pass time but is now an essential tool in conservation and controlling the populations of certain animals. Much like the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park helped restore balance to the natural order of the ecosystem, so do hunters help with maintaining ecosystems by hunting particular animals during certain times of the years.
When done lawfully, the hunting of animals can ensure those animals are around for many years to come. Also, hunting invasive species can help fix past mistakes, such as the Burmese Python in Florida, which authorities have given all citizens the right to exterminate these animals humanly if they spot one and can.
Hunting is not only good for nature, but it helps in a bunch of other ways as well. The profits from purchasing the hunting licenses go into funding government organizations that help maintain the National Parks, preserves, and buying more land for hunters to use.
It also helps fund programs that teach about nature, hunting, and other wilderness safety classes. Furthermore, the money generated by hunting contributes a large part to the economy based around it, such as wilderness supplies and creating jobs for that industry and others associated with it like camping lodges.
Why you should not bring a gun camping?
Guns are not always necessary to be safe from animals.
While camping takes place outside in the wild, people often forget they are still camping in a first-world country and that most animals will do whatever they can to stay away from us. Many campsites nowadays are located in National or State-run parks, so while nature is preserved, things are still relatively monitored and secure.
There are park rangers as well as conservation officers on-site in the park. There are times when people are out hiking and decide to camp in a deeper location in the woods, but with technology being what it is now, there are few circumstances where people are entirely out of touch.
In regard to the wildlife, there is a higher chance of being injured on a drive home from work than being attacked and killed by an animal while camping. In fact, in the latest study released about deaths in national parks, more people were killed by guns than by animals, and both of these causes were in the single digits.
Animals, by nature, stay away from humans. Give a snake space and it will either run away or give you time to getaway. Bears and mountain lions stay away from people most of the time unless we encroach on their space, and even in those times, the animals will choose to run from us. In the rare instances they don't, there are ways to handle that without harming or killing the animals.
Predators are an essential part of the ecosystems they live in and help control prey populations such as deer and elk. Also, you can purchase bear spray for much cheaper than the cost of a gun, and it is much easier to pack than a hunting rifle and ammunition.
Furthermore, not everyone with a gun should be walking around with a gun. The requirements to become a gun owner are not that difficult by and large. It really boils down to not being a criminal, drug addict, or being judged mentally impaired by the courts. Once a background check is done that verifies this; then a person can own a gun.
In the United States, the system in place focuses on trying to disqualify people from owning guns rather than trying to get the person who is buying the gun to prove they are responsible enough to own it. Seeing as how most people can pass the criteria laid out, it is not difficult to get a gun, meaning that yes, there could be a chance that someone carrying a firearm at a campsite may be a danger to others around them.
Guns may cause others to be fearful.
Camping can be a great way to find some solitude and be alone, but it can also be a great way to meet others. Being out in nature changes things. The social dynamics and barriers that exist in cities and our everyday lives come down in the wake of something more primal and welcoming.
When people are out camping, they learn to look to the person next to them and share what they have. There is a sense of camaraderie and community. However, being the person with a gun strapped to your hip or slung over your shoulder could be seen as threatening or make some people uneasy, even other people who may actually be carrying their gun in a less conspicuous manner. People who do not regularly handle guns or are around them tend to be skittish and uncomfortable when one is present, and that can change the atmosphere.
There are locations such as the Appalachian Trail, where most hikers and campers have chosen not to carry while on the Trail. Those who do often find themselves on the outside of the community there. Crimes, even attacks, on the Trail are few and far between. However, there has been a total of thirteen murders on the Appalachian Trail in the last fifty years.
Judging by the number of deaths actually caused by murder reported by the National Parks service, there is virtually no need to be carrying a gun to protect yourself. The parks had 11 total deaths in 2006. To give context to that number, the parks received over 270 million visitors. The parks are very safe, and the idea that people need to pack guns with them for safety can be seen as irrational.
Camping, at times, can be challenging. Having to set up and taking down camp. Being out in the wild by yourself for days at a time. Many people look for this sort of solitude, but for others, it can be too much and rely on meeting other people from time to time to socialize with and make the experience less daunting.
Just by their presence, firearms can make it difficult for people to be willing to approach. Don't let one item be the reason you sit alone at a campfire.
It is a lot of work to bring a gun.
Guns require a few things when someone wants to bring them camping. Gun owners need to be sure to have all the proper paperwork in order to bring the guns. They have to make sure they follow state regulations when bringing the firearms with them camping.
Gun laws often change, even from state to state, and keeping up with them can be a full-time job in and of itself. Gun enthusiasts do a great job of doing that but are it really worth it to pack up heavy guns, ammunition, paperwork, and any other materials needed to go with the activities you will be using the guns for, like targets.
Bringing guns, even the compact and easy to store kind, means they are taking up room and weight in your car, which could better be occupied by other supplies you have decided to leave behind instead of packing for your camping trip.
What of the extra drinking water that you left behind? Maybe you could have packed more warm clothes for the nights when it gets extra chilly. You made the kids leave their favorite water inflatable they wanted to use on the river because it couldn't fit.
These are just general examples but remember: when you go camping, each item you decide to bring means there are other things you decided not to bring.
Guns are also heavy; even the lightest handgun can weigh a few pounds. When out in nature, hiking, camping, and setting up your campsite, you generally want to keep things to the necessities. Packing a gun also means you need to backpack bullets, and depending on the weapon, a case, or bag, the gun goes in if it isn't holstered to your pack or hip.
The added weight also means added fatigue for the person who has to carry it. Some people view it as a necessity, but statistics say it is dead weight.
It is your decision to bring a gun camping.
Bringing a gun camping is a personal decision. A decision no one but you, as an individual, can make. Whether you do or don't, just remember to be responsible whenever you go out into nature. Camping is a great activity, but it also comes with some level of responsibility.
If you decide to bring your gun, be sure to read our other articles on firearms and camping: "The Best Guns to Take Camping." and "Can I Bring My Gun Camping?" We hope you find both articles valuable and informative. Being a gun owner means you have the burden of staying updated and informed about everything regarding guns and the rules surrounding them.