There is a move to ban firearms and target shooting at our National Parks. Various groups, such as conservation and hiking clubs, are petitioning the Bureau of Land Management to exercise such a ban. The New York Times recently published a story on this. They cite a number of incidents, from Utah to Colorado to North Carolina, where target shooters have been causing damage to the parks. In one case a camper was killed by a stray bullet. The U.S. Forest Service claims that shooting violations at our national parks is up 10% from a decade ago. Naturally, the National Rifle Association is opposing moves by the Feds to close off some areas of the parks from hunters and sport shooters. The vast majority of the violations are from parks west of the Mississippi, where the federal government owns a sizable percentage of the land.
Among the objections to people hunting and target shooting in the national parks is the amount of ′trigger trash′, being left. People shoot at paper targets, used cans, even old TV sets and apparently are leaving them behind. There is no doubt that trash is a bad thing. I recall the hub-bub back in 2010 after Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their ′Counter-Tea-Party′ rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC. This was held after Glenn Beck held his rally, which drew an enormous crowd whom actually policed themselves, leaving the park cleaner than when they found it. But after the Liberals held their rally, the Mall was full of trash. They obviously believed that Big Government would clean it up.
So I can sympathize to a degree. People should clean up after themselves. If you are a target shooter, be nice and pick up your spent rounds and used targets. I can also see where there is some concern about where people do their target shooting. Obviously, there should be a designated area which is equipped with a berms of dirt high enough to keep stray rounds from hurting anyone. Along with trash receptacles to aid in cleaning up. On the matter of restricting hunting, though, that is another issue. Unless the Feds are going to stock a fenced-off area with plenty of game, which takes all the sport out of hunting, I don′t see how you can limit that. If you ban hunting altogether, you then have the problem of over-population, resulting in many animals starving and getting sick, spreading disease. Eventually, the government would have to hire professional hunters to thin the herds.
To completely ban the use of firearms at National Parks is not a solution. A good compromise is to establish designated facilities for target shooters. It would not cost much money to have a back-hoe come in and build some berms to make it safe. A modest fee, say $2 per person, should be enough to cover the costs. Shooters should definitely be reminded to clean up after themselves. A nice big sign above a trash bin would do nicely. As for hunting, that is going to be a trickery matter. Backpackers and hikers need to know that during certain times of the year, they may encounter a hunter. A buffer zone to protect camping and trails might help with this. But an outright ban will only cause more problems. Aside from game animals becoming too numerous, people will start doing their target shooting somewhere else, probably where there is more human population and more risk of accidental injuries.