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Does your kit include a gun?
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Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
One simple thing on 12/19/2007 22:21:05 MST Print View

From everything I have read here, it is the non-gun owners who are fearful of guns and mostly seem to have the belief that all who have them are going to shoot them off randomly at any given minute.
And there is the rub: that is paranoia in itself.

A gun is nothing more than a tool. It isn't going to fire itself, and if properly holstered is quite safe.

Before you ask (and some of you have) am I a scared person, or paranoid? No.

I will admit I am skeptical of human nature. It is called your 6th sense, something that many men either do not have or don't turn on. I don't go into bad neighborhoods, I don't camp down FS roads on the side of the road, I don't stop at rest areas on the highways at night, I lock my car doors and my house. I don't talk to strange men. While I am a friendly person, I am not known for talking to men on the trail if I am alone. I wear sunglasses when hiking alone so my eyes are not visible to others. When they say your eyes are the window to your soul that is very true. Men, take time to look at peoples faces! This is something most women do naturally: you read body language, and eyes don't lie well. You meet a man on the trail who is smiling with hatred in his eyes, you keep moving. Same in town.

Simply put, I don't take risks that I don't have to. I don't put myself into situations that could be very bad. Yet, you cannot always avoid evil.

I chose years ago to give myself every advantage I could have. If I was a man, the naysayers would say I was compensating for shortcomings. Would I be able to beat off a grown man? No.

I think of what happened to a lady I know years ago: they had a couple drunk men follow them into their camp and were abusive to them. The ladies ended up having to hide in the trees for hours waiting for them to pass out so they could run. Why should they have had to suffer that? The men were verbally threatening them with rape and that they were going to beat them when they found them. Simply put, most likely if they had openly shown a weapon (without unholstering it, hand on it) the men would have backed off. Men like that know they have nothing to fear from small women.

This year on a local trail in King county a lady was attacked and dragged off the trail by a man trying to rape her. She was saved by screaming, a couple out hiking heard her. Worse? She had her baby with her! It was in a stroller and had flipped over. The rapist didn't even have respect for a freaking baby!

This past spring on a trip with two of my lady friends we encountered two very shady men on a trail - where the road in is well known for meth labs in the past. They were not dressed for hiking by any means, and were standing on both sides of the trail, staring at us as we came along. When your 6th sense is screaming that loud you get moving. Something was not right there by any means.

In 2003 I nearly blundered into a scene where a man was being assulated by other men on a trail. By the language I heard ahead it was a drug deal gone bad and they were teaching the guy a lesson. I had my 6 year old with me! I grabbed him and took off cross country running for my life through the woods.

The truth is this: Most of the readers responding here are men, not women. I have my reasons for carrying and they have little to do with fear. By saying it is fear driving our decision you are saying our beliefs mean nothing. There is nothing paranoid about being prepared. As you might have noticed I have encountered many a thing that set me off, but neither was I waving my firearm around - but it was there if I needed it. The person who carries to protect them selves isn't going to bring attention to their firearm until it is needed. That is something those who don't have firearm experience don't understand.

I take life very seriously and consider it to be fragile. I also support this countries right to bear arms.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: One simple thing on 12/19/2007 23:10:44 MST Print View

Very well spoken, Sarah. Although I've never carried a firearm when backpacking, that's just a choice I make at the time I set out. Fortunately, our Constitution gives Americans the right to make that choice.

If guns should be banned because there are some folks who use them irresponsibly, seems the same can be said as to vehicles, fattening foods, alchohol, climbing, and just about any other activity that can create risk to self and others - even backpacking - when undertaken irresponsibly.

The problem is not with guns, but with those who would use them foolishly -- or for crimes. Banning guns doesn't ban the fool or the criminal who can, and will, carry anyway.


Kevin Shuster
(drshuster) - F

Locale: Northern Arizona Alpine
Re: who or what are you shooting at? on 12/19/2007 23:19:08 MST Print View

If I understand yor situation correctly (and I may not), Living in Canada do you have a choice in carrying firearms? Maybe I misunderstand but, your government does not allow you to choose for yourself on this subject, true? If you are not legally afforded a choice how could you really vote to carry or not to carry....? Dont you sort of HAVE to say "no carry" because you aren't allowed to?

Isn't it true that those that don't have a choice better get comfortable with big brother choosing the right way for you? The idea that subjects, are restricted in their personal decisions... that are free to citizens to decide for themselves.. makes me uneasy.

Sometimes I think that the extra canister of fuel, or duplicate navigation methods are also motivated on some level by fear.... maybe my whole interest in all things wild is somehow tied to this...also.

I don't carry, or own a gun, and cannot imagine how the weight of steel and lead could fit into my pack, for what I'm doing it is bizzarley heavy and out of the question, for what I percieve to be negligible risk..... but I do appreciate that those that percieve that risk differently and I respect thier right (American) to choose to carry a weapon, according to their own risk assesment...

Let the Mommies feel safe too.

Maybe it signifies a greater trust in others that they would decide and behave huanely to allow them to carry if they want to.... is it possible that we trust in people MORE by allowing people to carry if they feel threatened?... maybe it is more fearful to not trust momy's with a side arm. I applaud all of you in your pursuit of self determination, and self reliance. and further would wish all of you the greatest possible freedoms to choose exactly how to effect this self reliance by: methods, or tactics and even the gear of your choice. Power to all of you in this wonderfully human quest to exist with independence.

You all inspire me.... in different ways.


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Re: perspective and training on 12/20/2007 00:35:43 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/24/2015 00:31:39 MDT.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: who or what are you shooting at? on 12/20/2007 00:48:48 MST Print View

"If I understand yor situation correctly (and I may not), Living in Canada do you have a choice in carrying firearms? Maybe I misunderstand but, your government does not allow you to choose for yourself on this subject, true? If you are not legally afforded a choice how could you really vote to carry or not to carry....? Dont you sort of HAVE to say "no carry" because you aren't allowed to?

"Isn't it true that those that don't have a choice better get comfortable with big brother choosing the right way for you? The idea that subjects, are restricted in their personal decisions... that are free to citizens to decide for themselves.. makes me uneasy."

No. Gun carrying isn't allowed in our cities and in parks, but everywhere else it's fine. (Your government doesn't allow you to carry in many parks either, right?) Handguns aren't allowed here, but then again handguns are almost never suitable or even capable of defending people against predatory animals. They're designed for killing other people, period.

We also have the right to carry any size of (single-edged, non-automatic) knife anywhere we want, including in town. You, on the other hand, are restricted by blade length and other factors in many or most states right?

The gun is a tool here, and never a device to protect private citizens from each other. And it works out fine. Our gun users are composed of a large population that feeds itself almost completely off the land, and of course farmers and ranchers and wildlife officers depend on their rifles all year long. Lots of people hunt, too.

We also DO have criminals, ethnic gangs, biker gangs, gang wars, drug addicts, and the mentally ill. (Not as many per capita, of course.) I live in the home invasion capital of North America, and Surrey is the vehicle theft capital of North America.

We just look at guns differently. When someone barricades himself in a house with hostages, our police just talk to him and wait. No SWAT teams, no tear gas, no shots fired, no police or bystanders or hostages hurt by stray bullets. Usually the suspect isn't even hurt. Time and again I see news stories of standoffs between a distraught person and the police and think "if that guy was in the US, he'd be dead by now and lots of people would have been close to the hail of lead. He's pretty lucky he decided to go nuts up here instead."

In fact, if ever a police officer is killed in the line of duty it's a national tragedy and it's in the news for days.

In the UK, it's one step further: even the cops don't have guns. It's another way of approaching the problem, and statistically innocent citizens are far safer in countries that don't allow guns than in ones that do.

Your government still "nannies" you about automatic weapons, right? If you were "truly" free to arm yourselves, you'd be free to walk around with full-auto AR-15s and RPGs, and put turret-mounted 50-cal's and miniguns on your vehicles.

That sounds absurd, right? Well, then, you know how it sounds to a Canadian to suggest carrying a 9mm down a hiking trail.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: who or what are you shooting at? on 12/20/2007 01:50:26 MST Print View

The merits and failures of gun control seems to be a bit off the topic of an individual's decision to carry or not carry where that option is legally available.

But, anyway, here's more fuel for the off-topic fire:

A lot more here, too:

And all over the internet by googling "gun crimes canada".


Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: who or what are you shooting at? on 12/20/2007 09:24:15 MST Print View

It seems that people are trying to make a non problem into a problem. We dont have a real problem with hand gun violence. I know that sounds silly, but most Americans know full well that the vast amount of violence and crime involving guns are confined largley to the blackmarket drug trade and gangs. When we hear about someone on the news who was shoot we all know what town/neigborhood its most likely in. Honest, we American dont have firefights with our neighboors and yet HUGE numbers of people own guns. You all need to stop watching so much American TV!
Leftwing groups have been after guns for decades but even thier own studys contradict them. There is no link between violence/crime and gun ownership.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re: who or what are you shooting at? on 12/20/2007 10:19:46 MST Print View

Regarding any link between crimes and violence on the one hand and gun ownership on the other hand, it's ironic that most stats now appear to show that crimes and violence go up in countries where gun ownership is more restricted.

Seems violent criminals find it easier to select victims where gun ownership is prohibited or greatly restricted.

In that respect, there is a link between crime and guns. Just not the link that gun control supporters recognize.


Charles Bilz
(denalijoe) - F

Locale: California
Re: One simple thing on 12/20/2007 10:24:27 MST Print View


I have read your recent posts on carrying a gun into the wilderness and I totally agree with your point of view.

You have obviously thought this through and are doing what you feel is best for your personal comfort and safety while out in the back country.

I say this in jest, but you sound like a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association.


Jane McMichen
(jmcmichen) - F

Locale: Maine, DownEast Coast
Thanks on 12/20/2007 12:38:03 MST Print View

Mike W. and Brian James, thanks for your answers and insights into Canadian ways of thinking. It's always interesting to see my culture through other eyes.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
RE: perspective and training on 12/20/2007 15:19:48 MST Print View

"All the training and forethought in the world can’t prepare you for what you will do when you are scared in a real world situation."

I keep hearing this line every time I read a thread about firearms. This is a cliche, and a poor one at best.

By your logic, every policeman, soldier, Marine or any other professional carrying a weapon is useless until after they have been in multiple firefights. This absolutely is NOT the case.

I was fortunate to have undergone about two years of training as a Marine before the first time I heard shots fired in anger. But many of the younger Marines with me had been in service less than a year. They still acquitted themselves admirably BECAUSE of extensive training and foresight. That which is done repeatedly and well becomes natural, even in that first real encounter.

The idea that training is useless is a rationalization designed to provoke someone to simply give up. True, it is possible someone may still hesitate at a critical moment. But with proper training, the likelihood is greatly reduced.

With proper forethought, judgement can be honed in when NOT to employ a firearm, a skillset which seems completely neglected by those who are either afraid of firearms or reject that they could ever be useful. Concealed carry permits are not issued out like candy. They require classes in which a large percentage of time is based on understanding the law and helping citizens establish a degree of prudence on when NOT to use firearms.

I don't carry in the backcountry. I'm a big guy. Nobody has ever harrassed me on the trail. But the theme I continuously hear about "the weapon will be used against you" or "you won't be able to use it when you need it" shows classic propaganda designed to replace a woman's legitimate concerns with fear-mongering to prevent her from carrying.

If you're concerned, get your training, and be careful out there.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: RE: perspective and training on 12/20/2007 16:29:55 MST Print View

Hi Shawn,
How many people in the civilian population who choose to carry a concealed weapon receive anything close to the kind of training you had in the Marines?
For all of you who remember how this thread originated, I would strongly recommend watching the YouTube clip(Brian supplied the URL in a previous poast) about those bear hunters who were forced to shoot a charging grizzly sow before making a final decision about carrying a pistol to defend against bears. Pretty sobering; I mean, those guys were packing some serious firepower and it still got dicey.
As for carrying for bigger game, we're never going to sort that one out under current interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. People are going to do what they think they need to do, reasonably or otherwise. As far as I'm concerned it is just one more hazard to be aware of in my comings and goings, at home and, it now seems, in the backcountry as well. Guess I should have figured it out 10 years or so ago when I first noticed backcountry rangers wearing sidearms down in the Sierra. They were doing it for a reason. Sad to say, Sarah and Jane, you've probably got a point; but I sure hope you never have to use your weapon, because once you have taken a human life, justifiably or not, you will never be the same.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
reaction times on 12/20/2007 17:13:36 MST Print View

Here you go: 4 hunters, well-armed, ready for a lion, safeties off, shooting to kill. Count how many shots are fired, and notice that the kill shot isn't made until the lion is running away.

Dirty Harry(s) versus lion

Now tell me how *you* would shoot under that kind of pressure. Unless you are a soldier or have shot a charging animal, you have no idea. (Training or not.)

Training can boost your odds upwards from zero, but remember that handguns are nowhere near as accurate as rifles and are harder to aim at any range other than point-blank. And with a handgun, you have a tiny effective target on an animal *or* a man. He would have to almost be on you before you had a chance of taking him.

These guys were *sure* they had the upper hand, with their big guns and fancy hunting suits, standing in a group and blazing away. And it was dumb luck by quick-reacting guide that saves a life here.

Imagine if that guide hadn't been directly in the path of the lion, with a round chambered, ready for the shot?

I counted six misses, with three on target and only the third hit from a nine-shot sequence stopping the animal. All with big-bore safari rifles in the hands of people who had been expecting a charging animal since they had eaten breakfast that morning.

I say it again: you're the safest if you *never*, ever, even for a second, believe that you have or can get the upper hand. You will be less likely to die that way, pure and simple.

Dan Healy

Locale: Queensland
a secure society or a gun society? on 12/20/2007 17:22:27 MST Print View

Quite an extraordinary topic on a backpacking site… ‘only in the US of A!’ as I think you folks like to say …

What is fascinating is the way fairly similar cultures deal with essentially the same challenges. Europe and most countries where Europeans societies have spread eg North America, share similar culture and make up the most of the developed world… yet only in the US do citizens feel that arming themselves is the ‘normal’ response to the challenges/problems of their society. You folks even have a term for it – to ‘carry’. As in, “I choose to carry.” It is understood that person is armed and the noun can be left out of the sentence! The ‘normalness’ extends to a simple walk in the woods where some folks often(?!) choose to carry a firearm to handle the challenges faced there…

In the US the way of solving some of society’s challenges is to arm yourselves. No other first world country has anywhere near the level of firearm ownership as the US – 90 weapons per 100 residents.

Yet, according to OECD data, the US at 15.94 deaths per 100,000 of population, has by far and away the highest firearm-related death rate for a 1st world country. To give that figure perspective, Canada has 4.78… my home country - Australia, has 2.94, and England at 0.46… Sadly the very thing that every society wants – a safer and more secure one – seems to have eluded the US.

I’ll finish my 2cents worth about differing ways to solve the same challenge with a story I read a few years ago of a fellow who lived in a rattlesnake prone area in the US. He was a respected member of his community and apparently carried 2 large calibre revolvers in holsters by his side because of this threat/challenge/problem. Australia is blessed with the deadliest snakes by venom, by amount of poison, by aggressiveness, by sneakiness, by ugliness – you name it. I am a farm boy, grew up around guns and have been around for a number of winters… yet I have never heard of anyone carrying a firearm because of the snake problem…

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: reaction times on 12/20/2007 17:22:44 MST Print View

Lucky one of the Harrys didn't get wasted when that lion went right through the group. A couple of rifles were definitely pointed in the right(wrong?) direction. One synapse misfire in the heat of battle and there could have been one less "Harry". .44 Magnums, anyone?

Steve O
(HechoEnDetroit) - F

Locale: South Kak
FWS Bear Spray vs Bullets on 12/20/2007 17:42:19 MST Print View

This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fact sheet (PDF) sums up bear protocol pretty well.

I feel pretty clear on this issue. If someone does pack in an area where they can expect to encounter bears (or other aggressive animals), it should be their responsibility to also carry bear spray (out of respect for the bear and oneself). I know I would regret shooting a bear, and will try wholeheartedly to prevent it, but I won't rule it out.

In almost all cases, the bear spray should be used prior to a firearm. The firearm could fire warning shot(s) simultaneously and/or prior to bear spraying. The firearm also could then be utilized if/when a bear got too close for comfort. Things aren't always so cut-and-dry, as we all know, so if an animal attacks one in a tent or in an otherwise confined space, it would be a tough call because the bear spray could affect the shooter as well.

A person has a duty to know what they may encouter as well as the appropriate avoidance and deterrence techniques for those respective threats. There is plenty of info out there which details how to act around bears, big cats, humans, rabid animals, hogs, etc. In the end, if you do have a close encouter, hopefully no shots are fired. A previous poster noted that bear spray could have solved anything mentioned on this forum. IMO, you never know, and a firearm is another tool in the box.

" ‘only in the US of A!’ as I think you folks like to say …"
---or 'only in the US and A' as Borat says

Oh, and yes, 'carrying' is a term for having a gun on one's person. There is also: being strapped, being heated, packin', holdin', toten', etc. We have all kind of USA slang(check out

Edited by HechoEnDetroit on 12/20/2007 18:33:30 MST.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
Training on 12/20/2007 18:00:45 MST Print View

I once had a permit to carry because my wife had a stalker and they broke into my house on several occasions.

The training required to purchase a pistol for leagal carry in the woods versus the legal permit to carry for protection I found vastly different. I took all levels of pistol training in MN (mid 90s) even though they would have waved the first class because of my military experience (DD214).

I found the training and rules a challenge because of how the infantry trained me to use a pistol and the way law enforcement officers trained me. The 2 rounds per engagement rule, only, engaging the chest, and then head as a last resort is what we used. They told me point blank that firing 3 rounds (2 in the chest and 1 in the head) would get me arrested, even in a self defence situation, because military training has the intent to kill. You need to have the intent or self protection.

First, it was a very hard habbit for 'me' to stop. It took several thousand rounds through my pistol before I felt better and safe with the idea.

Another instructor told me this was not just the protection of your life. It is the protection of the quality of your life (read no jail and no death of self or loved ones).

The instructors said it wasn't that we would be in the wrong for killing the individual with a 2 in the chest and 1 in the head action. Firearms kill. But the wrong statement and intent to kill (ie. head shot) or the wrong interpretation of the correct or 'right action' could land you in jail. Remember: Anything you say, can, and will be used against you in a court of law.

We did cover the fact that an engagement could be with someone using body armor. So the head shots may become or be a neccesity. But the body armor is part of your defense. Go figure.

I just want to give all of the people watching this something to think about and get them to really consider training. Engaging someone or involving the firearm in a confrontation with another human element is serious business and not to be taken lightly. I can tell by the great thread that most of you know this already. this is directed at those who don't have the experience or training.

Have fun and be safe!!!!

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: a secure society or a gun society? on 12/20/2007 19:39:07 MST Print View

Why do non Americans care so much whether we have guns or not? Weve been 'bearing" arms for almost 300 years and no one ever had a problem with it. All the numbers people post lack context. America has a serious drug problem that fuels a huge illegal drug market. Thats where all this so-called "gun" violence is comming form. I still dont buy for a second the idea that every one can just use their wits to out smart thier armed attacker every time- its just silly. Why do we want to go back to Mideval times? Where might makes right. The gun used to be hailed as the great equalizer. The peasent could blow the night off his horse, all his expensive training and equipment went down the tubes- one of the most beutiful moments in western history.
Only someone who lives a sheltered life could tell vunreable peolpe that they are paraniod and cant handle/solve problems like a civilized person. America has a drug problem not a gun problem.
This is also a fundamental difference in philosophy-
Most countrys belive that freedom can be abused so it should be restricted, we say live free or die. The risks of hand guns is just part of life no different than living with the risk of Grizzlys or car accidents.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 12/20/2007 19:47:23 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
RE: perspective and training on 12/20/2007 19:51:27 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/24/2015 00:37:47 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
RE: perspective and training on 12/20/2007 20:30:14 MST Print View

Mike, I would have to assume your comment about "The fact still remains that there are some very nervous individuals on your trails that are packing concealed hand guns and I'm sorry if that freaks me out but it does. I'm glad that I only have to worry about the grizzly bears up hear in Canada..." is somewhat aimed at me.

As you might note: I am fine with not carrying in NP's and I obey all laws, so yes, I can be separated from my 3 lb package. I daily go into the US Post Office and the public school, both places where firearms are not allowed. I am fine not carrying in those places. I may not agree with the laws, but I will respect them.

I'd rather question how many people feel safe when they are not in reality. It is not being nervous or paranoid but rather being aware of your surroundings. That has nothing to do with weapons. It is listening to your inner voice.

Like today: I had a guy (we call them COG's...creepy old guys) who wouldn't leave me alone at the local Starbucks. Do men ever think of how they invade other people's personal space? The guy wouldn't back off and was within a couple inches of me. I didn't feel threatened by him as I was in public, but elsewhere? I would have had my pepper spray in my hands just in case. Lets see, he felt the need to tell me how I should take yoga so I could be more limber. Ewwwww. That is pretty common in what many women face daily! While his creepiness there was handable, what do you tell women to do when they have this happen on the trail? Should women never hike alone? Even in pairs they are not safe. Should we not have choices? In many ways I wish that men had to go through what women do a couple times in their lives. And to be small as well.
I don't buy that Canada's cities are any safer (Vancouver, BC? Yikes!)and that neither are their trails. Less traveled maybe. Rather, it is the view of the person.