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what to do when encountering guns on the trail
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BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: MLK WAS A Republican. on 06/30/2013 18:23:47 MDT Print View

Alveda king is MLK's niece , and has since disavowed her statement. You also have to take into account her own political leanings for her original statement. That is not the point however. He never affiliated with either party and often criticized them both. There is no evidenced of party affiliation to be found. Her statement was not corroborated by any evidence. Like I wrote earlier, ideology clouds historical accuracy. But you can find useful evidence for most historical questions, just not from any politically motivated media outlets. Now I am out!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: MLK WAS A Republican. on 06/30/2013 18:30:13 MDT Print View


Matt, the article you link to provides no proof whatsoever that MLK was a republican, just a lot of speculation from a republican communications strategist (who does a bit of the history rewriting that BJ posted about).

From MLK himself, we have: "Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights."

We also have: "Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he said that he was undecided as to whether he would vote for Adlai Stevenson or Dwight Eisenhower, but that "In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket." In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: "I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one." King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term, saying "Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964."

And from Snopes: "A commonly circulated item about Martin Luther King which is not included in this list is the claim that King was a Republican. Such claims are based purely on speculation; King himself never expressed an affiliation with, nor endorsed candidates for, any political party. In response to such claims, his son, Martin Luther King III, said: "It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican.""

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
MLK WAS A Republican. on 06/30/2013 18:31:14 MDT Print View

You are right, she is his niece. Sorry...typing too fast to proof read. I stand by the rest, though. Conversation took place just a few months ago, and I know what i asked and have conveyed her response. Regardless, we all are worse off that the man is not with us today.


Edited by bigfoot2 on 06/30/2013 18:39:38 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: MLK WAS A Republican. on 06/30/2013 18:47:55 MDT Print View

"Regardless, we all are worse off that the man is not with us today."


Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
????? on 06/30/2013 19:07:29 MDT Print View

Uhhhhhh...i'm not a smart guy....what was the main topic of this thread again? LOL


PS--Go ahead, Ken....

Edited by bigfoot2 on 06/30/2013 19:08:51 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: ????? on 06/30/2013 19:14:59 MDT Print View


How dare you!!!!!!!!!!!

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
????? on 06/30/2013 19:25:22 MDT Print View

I left it wiiiiiiide open for you........


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: ????? on 06/30/2013 21:14:07 MDT Print View

So I'm out all day in this gorgeous this thread got all chaffy!!

What are we talking about?

And Matthew, are you seriously a birther??!! Now how are any of us supposed to take you seriously......

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Yes, I'm a liberal. So what?? on 06/30/2013 21:23:52 MDT Print View

I think guns are fine. I do tend to chuckle a bit tho when people who have no formal, regular training in firearms think that they are going to save the day all Rambo style. You really think your little 9mm is going to do anything against a couple of Uzi-toting drug cartel workers patrolling a pot farm?? Yeah right.

This is why I made my testosterone comments; a gun is an obvious extension of your manhood.
By the way, if everyone toting around guns made us safer, why don't cops want us all to carry? Why don't other countries that DO ban guns have higher crime rates than us???

And honestly, throwing up regurgitated Internet memes really does nothing for your argument. It's rather juvenile and pathetic.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Man-Hood on 06/30/2013 21:41:56 MDT Print View

"I think guns are fine. I do tend to chuckle a bit tho when people who have no formal, regular training in firearms think that they are going to save the day all Rambo style. You really think your little 9mm is going to do anything against a couple of Uzi-toting drug cartel workers patrolling a pot farm?? Yeah right."

---What make you so sure that I do not have any "formal, regular training in firearms"?

"This is why I made my testosterone comments; a gun is an obvious extension of your manhood."

---No, it is a tool. My manhood is my manhood. If that rule were true, i'd need to carry a HOWITZER around with me. You are obviously jealous of those of us who have it and sound ridiculous with these penis-envy statements. Seriously.

"By the way, if everyone toting around guns made us safer, why don't cops want us all to carry?"

---The ones actually following their sworn oath to uphold the Constitution Of The United States DO want us all to have the ability to carry if we so choose. That is why so many sheriffs have come out and blatantly said they will not uphold any laws that disarm the American people. The 31 states that have “shall issue” laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24 percent lower violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower murder rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons. In fact, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states.

" Why don't other countries that DO ban guns have higher crime rates than us???"

---Uhhhh....because they banned all the guns and the law abiding citizens can't defend themselves. Duh! They DO have higher crime rates...look it up. You just proved my argument.This is one of the favorite arguments of gun control proponents, and yet the facts show that there is simply no correlation between gun control laws and murder or suicide rates across a wide spectrum of nations and cultures. In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, according to Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel “have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.” A comparison of crime rates within Europe reveals no correlation between access to guns and crime.

The basic premise of the gun control movement, that easy access to guns causes higher crime, is contradicted by the facts, by history and by reason. Let’s hope more people are catching on.

"And honestly, throwing up regurgitated Internet memes really does nothing for your argument. It's rather juvenile and pathetic."

---Yeah, i'll give you that. I may be juvenile and pathetic, but at least I am honest and say what I mean and mean what I say. I also try and be respectful and would never think of attacking YOUR manhood (of which, I am sure you have in ample supply).

By the way, my son sent me this today:

Edited by bigfoot2 on 07/01/2013 00:07:52 MDT.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Funny... Sort of.. on 07/01/2013 05:06:20 MDT Print View

Well, being a foreigner on this forum, I won't make to big a fuss about what you do in your own country, so I'll try to just stay curious on this topic.
I do think it's interesting to discuss the gun issue with you guys, as guns are very exotic to me. I think the tone in this chaff thread has been okay. When everybody believes strongly in something, it is bound to show. I haven't changed my opinion, but i can see more clearly where people with the opposite opinion comes from.

I've been to USA a couple of times, and I have one day that stands out:

-We went to bathe in a lake with some American friends, and we changed our clothes behind our car. We were naked for about 10 sec, and nobody could see our private parts. Later we was told that that was a little shocking for our friends. In the evening we went to the movies, and the stranger sitting next to me was carrying a handgun. That was very shocking to us. Later we was told that that wasn't unusual.

I think naked bodies is pretty innocent compared to handguns... Hahaha :-)

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Funny... Sort of.. on 07/01/2013 05:53:13 MDT Print View

Another curiosity is how movies are rated. Much more lenient ratings for violence than for love making. Something to do with puritans..

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Man-Hood on 07/01/2013 06:13:36 MDT Print View

Penis envy? Seriously? That's what you come up with? Come on.

And you'd probably be surprised to know that I am NOT a gun control nut. Do I think basic, rational regulations are a good idea? Yep. But that's it.

Living in a large city with a huge murder/shooting problem, there is one thing I find very interesting: those who live in condensed areas, on top of each other with large population densities think guns are not a good idea to be waving around all willy nilly. Those who live in wide open spaces where the population is sparse, well they think it IS a good idea. If I lived in west Texas, or Alaska, yeah, I'd have a gun. Here in Chicago, not on your life. The odds in my city are that that gun will be used against me in an altercation. No thanks.

And just because YOU may have firearms training, well good for you. I have an uncle who is just as rabid about this as you are. He went to a firing range a few times. So now he carries his handgun everywhere, thinking he's going to protect his family....THAT'S what I mean about a false sense of manhood and testosterone clouding judgement. As a military guy you know how often those skills need to be drilled in order to be effective. Even soldiers and cops get shot and killed. Often.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Gun nuts on 07/01/2013 10:10:37 MDT Print View

Have you ever noticed gun nuts can't spot a joke thread, but in their own minds, they are the most qualified to evaluate situations and use deadly force ?

It's sad.

We have all been stuck behind the NRA labeled truck. The poor driver can barely handle reacting to a red traffic light turning green. Any competent criminal will use the guys 5 second reaction time to nullify the gun issue with seconds to spare.

Edited by redmonk on 07/01/2013 10:15:39 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Nutjobs are the problem on 07/01/2013 11:26:18 MDT Print View

Everyone does realize that the OP was satire of the "dogs on trails" thread correct? Well I may as well throw my chips in too.

There is no shortage of "nutters" from both sides. It seems the U.S. has been hijacked by irrational extremists from the left and right; no one is willing to find areas of common ground or reasonableness much less respecting each other's differences.
If the Democrats really wanted to be helpful or successful, they would do well to drop "comprehensive" from their vocabulary. Comprehensive health care legislation. Comprehensive gun legislation. Comprehensive immigration legislation. They had an opportunity to create some meaningful legislation which would help reduce prohibited people (through due process under the law) from accessing guns but instead they tried to go for the whole enchilada and got nothing. Nothing new but the Dems are as surgical as a ball peen hammer.

By no means am I endorsing the GOP. They need to realize that none of the enumerated rights are limitless including the 1st Amendment which is considered by many to be the most sacred of all. The Supreme Court has held throughout its history that certain reasonable limitations may be imposed. Sorry NRA (of which I am a member) and special interest groups, the 2nd Amendment is not immune from this.

Also, keep the arguments reasonable. I'm opposed to bans on Assault Rifles (stop with the semantics, that is what they are called!), high cap magazine, etc. but I also understand that I won't be relocated to a ghetto or concentration camp if I can only carry 10 round magazines. There are perfectly intelligent and rational arguments to be made; fear mongering only cheapens the argument. Whoever from the NRA who stated that an AR15 is a hunting rifle should be pimp slapped into next week. That is transparent, agenda driven, and dishonest rubbish. I honestly don't care if you keep one for three gun shooting, self-defense from criminals (or any foil hat conspiracies that your family will be relocated into a FEMA camp), or all of the above. The Supreme Court has held that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right and along with that, "shall not be infringed."

Since you people caught me on a post coffee Monday.... here's some more off topic rant for you.

If the Republicans really wanted to be relevant, then they should stop presuming that they speak for the moral majority. You can't say that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land on Monday and then say that the 14th amendment does not apply to all citizens on Tuesday. We are all either protected equally under the law or none of us are protected under the law. If the GOP was truly the poster child of conservatism and the Constitution, then they should have championed gay rights to marry.

The American people need to stop pointing their fingers at the politicians and special interest groups. We are fully to blame for the perpetual mess in DC; these sociopaths only have power because we gave it to them. Turn off Fox, NBC, CNN et al and look for an education not indoctrination. Stop voting party lines and vote for the candidate who represents you; a democrat from Texas may in fact be more conservative than a Republican from NY and vice versa.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Girly-Girl Man-Haters Club. on 07/01/2013 11:28:13 MDT Print View

"Penis envy? Seriously? That's what you come up with? Come on."

----Yes. It's painfully obvious that you have it...BAD. See your previous quote below (one of SEVERAL times you have basically said the exact same thing about gun-toting MEN in this thread.):

"This is why I made my testosterone comments; a gun is an obvious extension of your manhood."

----Wow. Not much I need to say here. You make my point very well on your own without much help from me. As Doug said earlier, "...are you a member of the Girly-Girl Man-Haters Club?" Were you traumatized by a man in some way?

I will re-post, in it's entirety, the article about hikers and guns that, obviously, none of the anti-gun people on here even bothered to read. A gun is a tool. Period.

And for those of you too lazy to copy/paste, here is the actual article linked above:


1. If you carry a firearm, know how - and when - to use it.

The subject of guns on the trail is possibly THE most divisive discussion among hikers. It is a subject that is despised on most discussion lists, causing hot arguments, angry responses, and calls for banning the subject entirely. When discussing firearm carry on various lists, I have had questions answered and good points raised. However, I have also been accused of being naive, insecure, fearful, paranoid, stupid, and of having a small penis. I am, quite simply, astonished. It seems to be legitimate to discuss trail gear, and although I consider firearms to be trail gear, I find that there has been very little real discussion on the subject...

Interestingly, a poll on Yahoo's BackpackingLight group, "Do you carry a gun in the backcountry?", had these responses:

Choices (56 replies)


Yes, Always. 5 8.93%
Yes, When it is legal. 1 1.79%
Yes, When it is appropriate to the area. 17 30.36%
No, I have never felt the need. 13 23.21%
No, I don't like guns. 1 1.79%
No, I think the idea is stupid. 19 33.93%

So, 41% of responding hikers carry a firearm in the backcountry. Obviously, then, the subject deserves rational discussion. Unfortunately, there are irresponsible parties on both sides. One side main-lines adrenalin and the Second Amendment while declaring that a gun must ALWAYS be carried. The second side vehemently declares that you must NEVER carry a weapon of any kind, and to do so is simply stupid. It has gotten to the point where nobody wants to have the discussion because the zealots on both sides will instantly start a war and nobody - especially the newbies - will learn anything at all and in some cases be worse off than they were before. The messages that they need to hear - namely responsible gun ownership, training, and proper carry and use are never covered. In reality, with good training and proper education, a gun IS just any other piece of gear.

What, then, should you do? Should you carry a firearm in the backcountry? Well, despite the zealots, the right answer is: "Sometimes, you should, other times, you shouldn't." What follows is (I hope!) a rational discussion of the whys and the why nots. It is long, but after reading it, you will be able to make you OWN decision about what, when, and where, and if to carry. In this essay, bears are used as the common example of the large predator often encountered in the back country. I admit that this is rather unfair to bears, since there are several kinds of large predators in the back country - including bad people.

This document is broken down into four sections:

1. The Arguments FOR
2. The Arguments AGAINST
3. The RIGHT answer
4. Other considerations


"The Second Amendment guarantees my right to carry a firearm."
"A gun is the best tool if a hiking partner is being mauled."
"I used to carry pepper spray in bear country, but then realized that I didn't want to wait until the bear was within range of the spray. Distance has its privileges."
"I carry a gun everywhere I go."

"The Second Amendment guarantees my right to carry a firearm."

Really, this isn't what the discussion is about. For the purposes of this discussion, rights are irrelevant to the topic of whether or not you need or don't need a firearm in the backcountry. You will find, in all MY posts on the various lists that I never bring up the subject of rights, privileges, or freedoms - nor do I discuss the subject when someone else remarks on it. None of that has anything to do with the decision making process for or against the carry of a firearm in the backcountry.

While I believe in Second Amendment rights, they become a smoke screen that some people hide behind when the subject comes up.

"A gun is the best tool if a hiking partner is being mauled."

NO! Spray them both if you have pepper spray. If that fails, crack the bear with a hiking pole or stick to disengage him from the person being mauled. Don't try to shoot a bear in the process of mauling someone. You aren't that good. I'm not that good either. There are probably less then ten people on the planet who are.

"I used to carry pepper spray in bear country, but then realized that I didn't want to wait until the bear was within range of the spray. Distance has its privileges."

You should carry the spray. The big one. You shouldn't be shooting bears or other critters at any distance greater than 'danger close'. (Unless you intend to eat them...) Use the spray first, and the gun second. Every situation is different, but shooting a bear because he wants your Twinkies and shooting a bear because he wants to chew on your skull are two very different things. Remember: He lives there, and you are just visiting.

"I carry a gun everywhere I go."

I would agree that some people should carry a firearm everywhere, but that would be limited to law enforcement personnel and people with a lot of training. Simply having a gun isn't a guarantee of safety, and this blanket statement is no better than saying that you would never carry a firearm under any condition.


"A firearm isn't lightweight, and is against lightweight backpacking principles."
"Fear of wild animals comes more from the movie theaters and TV than from actual wilderness experiences."
"Firearms are almost worthless against large predators. A single shot will rarely stop them."
"Many gun accidents occur every year in which people are mistaken for animals and shot."
"Pepper Spray is a better option than a firearm."
"Knowing that there might be a paranoid gun carrying person backpacking in the same area that I am certainly doesn't give me piece of mind."
"A knife is better than a gun in a mauling situation."
"People carry guns because they personally feel inadequate."
"Weapons are just extra weight which you will dump after a few days."
"People who carry firearms carry more than just the gun - they carry an unreasonable burden of fear."
"I think taking guns on a backpacking trip is not only stupid, but useless, and often illegal."

"A firearm isn't lightweight, and is against lightweight backpacking principles."

Not all firearms are lightweight, but there are a few that are relatively light. In reality, weight has no bearing on the topic of weather or not to actually carry a firearm. It is, just like the Second Amendment argument; a smoke screen.

"Fear of wild animals comes more from the movie theaters and TV than from actual wilderness experiences."

Not fear, respect. In my 26 years or so of backcountry wandering, I have personally used a firearm, and personally seen a firearm used, to save human lives in a time of crisis.

If you break it down statistically, on the AT, you are eight times more likely to be killed by another human being than you are by a bear. Your primary concern, therefore, in a backcountry violent encounter, is humans. Police officers carry firearms, not through any burden of fear, but because they must be prepared for worst case scenarios.

"Firearms are almost worthless against large predators. A single shot will rarely stop them."

I have actually witnessed bears being brought down twice. One with a rifle, and the other with a handgun. Both bears died like any other shot game, and didn't remain animate for long. Shot placement is VERY important.

Before I get a box full of hate mail: I was not the one doing the shooting. I like bears.

Stopping power and shot placement are topics, I think, that are outside the scope of this document. Discussions of ballistics, etc., are rather involved topics. To be brief, skip the 10mm and .40 SW and go with .45, .44Mag, .454 Casul, or 12 Gauge and you will not go wrong. The different delivery systems for these calibers (read 'guns') is also really beyond the scope of this document, and there are excellent resources that you can learn from. I carry a Glock 21, or a .44 Colt Python, or a .454 Casul, or a American Arms single shot 12 break open. I can reload the 12 faster than most people can pump, which is a necessary skill when carrying that type of firearm.

"Many gun accidents occur every year in which people are mistaken for animals and shot."

If the accident argument makes sense to you, then you shouldn't carry matches because they might start a forest fire. There is no such thing as a 'gun accident', just as there is no such thing as a 'matches accident'. Only people have accidents.

For all the complaints that guns on the trail are unsafe, I can't recall any instance of one hiker shooting another by accident. I can recall instances of bears eating hikers, and I can recall instances of bears who wanted to eat hikers being dissuaded by various means - including guns. Ditto for bad people.

"Pepper Spray is a better option than a firearm."

I'd rather say that it is your second to last option - the last option being the firearm. Pepper Spray is NOT 100%. Despite that, I think that you should ALWAYS carry pepper spray - even when not in bear country.

"Knowing that there might be a paranoid gun carrying person backpacking in the same area that I am certainly doesn't give me piece of mind."

So I guess rangers, and other law enforcement personnel, are 'paranoid gun carrying people' that you worry about...

I don't understand why having a piece of equipment makes me paranoid or dangerous. Does my down vest mean that I'm paranoid of hypothermia, or does it mean that I'm properly prepared? "Ya'll better watch that boy. He's afraid 'o freezin' ta death. Us? Why we're wearin' cotton. When's the last time anybody froze to death? Why, it almost never happens!"

Think about two simple, unrelated statistics:

The vast majority of people who die in house fires die in houses where there are no smoke or fire detectors.

The vast majority of people who get mauled by big critters are carrying no equipment to defend against big critters.

Those that would argue that such occurrences are so rare that it isn't worth preparing against, must also argue that house fires are so rare, that only paranoid fire freaks would have smoke alarms.

"A knife is better than a gun in a mauling situation."

Possibly, but that is another whole discussion of a different area of skill. Blade types, sectional density, insertion points, and depth of entry are also complex topics and skills that take time to learn. Not to mention that knife combat against a large predator requires a level of mental preparedness that most people simply do not have.

"People carry guns because they personally feel inadequate."

If you feel adequate, then that's great. Simply feeling adequate, however, won't keep you from being eaten, mauled, raped, robbed, or murdered.

"Weapons are just extra weight which you will dump after a few days."

Not if you've already made the right decision.

"People who carry firearms carry more than just the gun - they carry an unreasonable burden of fear."

This is the 'Burden of Fear' argument that comes up from time to time. Sometimes it sounds quite rational. "A reasonable fear of the unknown is natural and healthy and keeps us on toes. An unreasonable fear of the unknown spoils our fun and can result in irrational thought and illogical behavior."

The 'Burden of Fear' argument, while alluring, doesn't prove out when thought out carefully. If the burden of fear argument were true, then those arguing for it would hike on a ridge top in a lightning storm - because really, what are the chances of being struck by lightening? The reality is, in that situation, very high.

When I travel in such areas, carrying something with which to fend them off actually alleviates any 'burden of fear'.

Thought out another way, I carry extra water in the desert, not because I fear dying of thirst, or have an unreasonable fear of thirst, but because it is prudent to do so.

> the ones I know who are sensitive to the > negative symbolism of firearms and the fear that > firearms generate in others create for themselves > reasonable-sounding but fallacious arguments regarding > the actual level of threat in their personal > environments.

We all have fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in our homes, not because we have created reasonable-sounding but fallacious arguments regarding the actual level of threat of fire in our homes, but because such items are prudent and have been shown to save lives.

"I think taking guns on a backpacking trip is not only stupid, but useless, and often illegal."

This is an argument that is often used, and covers three ideas:

Stupid to carry: It depends entirely on where you are. In some areas it is stupid NOT to take a gun. For instance, anywhere that you are likely to encounter a polar bear, you should have a weapon capable of killing one. Polar bears aren't especially aggressive creatures, mind you, but they are huge. They are also insatiably curious. Most polar bears don't know what a human is, and if one sees you he/she may decide to find out what you are. They can stalk you for many days over many miles. In the end they will kill you, not to eat you or out of meanness, but because they don't know what you are.

In parts of South America, and Africa, for instance, it would be stupid not to have a gun.

I am surprised that every time this subject comes up, people on both sides make blanket statements like "Carrying a gun backpacking is stupid.", or "I never go anywhere without mine." A gun is like any other piece of your gear. You don't take swimming trunks to Everest, and you don't take your arctic parka to Tahiti. Most of your gear has a reasonable application in some environment, but not in all environments. You carry gear that protects you from thirst, heat, cold, hunger, rain, snow, etc., because these are all threats that are commonly faced. Predation by another creature - human or not - while rare, does happen more often in some areas than others. You must do a reasonable risk assessment whenever you go out. To make such a blanket statement is ignorant at best and irresponsible at worst. I don't need a shotgun in my own back yard. I do need one in other places.

Useless to carry: This is simply an uninformed statement. Firearms have been useful in the back country since their invention.

Illegal to carry: You should be aware of all legalities regarding firearms in the place where you are traveling before making the decision to carry one.

The right answer, by now, should be obvious, so let's ask the question again: Should YOU carry a firearm in the backcountry? You can clearly see that the answer is, "Sometimes." Knowing WHEN that 'sometimes' is, however, requires careful consideration. There is an often used quotation that, "It's better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it." You can't argue with that statement. The logic of this theorem is FLAWLESS. It is a statement that is true beyond the petty discussion of whether or not to carry a firearm in the backcountry.

It is a statement of absolute logic, however, that disregards limits of weight, sanity, and prudent choice. Using the theorem, one would be inclined to carry a MIG welder while backpacking, because it's certainly better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it...right?

Well, you certainly can't carry everything, and the answer is obviously no. Criteria have to be set on every object and every ounce of weight that are rational and sane. Unfortunately, we have all seen people who have thrown out rational sense and carry 80 pound packs for a nice weekend hike - which invariably turns into a nightmare... On the flip side, there are people who don't carry enough and wind up in trouble. In order not to make these mistakes, you have to make prudent decisions.

A gun should be considered in the category of 'safety equiptment', similar in function to a climbing helmet. While this is a document about firearms, let's leave that for a little while and talk broadly about safety equipment. When deciding which emergency gear to carry, you should rationally evaluate rationally the odds of meeting different sorts of emergencies on the trail - but that isn't the only consideration.

That question can only be answered on a hiker by hiker basis. Many people point out the statistical improbability of some occurrences. Risk management isn't just about the likelihood of an occurrence, it's also about the end result if the unlikely does happen. It's not likely that nuclear reactors will melt down, but if they do the results can be catastrophic, so measures are taken against that unlikely eventuality. You can't just 'rationally evaluate the odds', you also have to rationally evaluate the end effect if the odds do not fall in your favor. For instance, what are the chances that I will fall down while hiking? Very slim. I have never taken a bad fall and I've been hiking a long time, so why should I bring the climbing helmet?. If I am going hiking on nice level ground, I won't take the helmet. If I am going to hike treacherous mountain slopes, however, I will wear the helmet. Why? Because if I do fall, the fall is more likely to be severe - and I am more likely to bonk my head - in the difficult terrain. I've never needed it, but if I do land on my fool head, I will be glad to have my skull bucket.

Having said that, there is no piece of gear that can eliminate accidents. There are only pieces of gear that can help lessen the severity of accidents (climbing helmets, for one), and pieces of gear that can help you perform a self rescue (rope, first aid supplies, compass) if necessary.

When considering items to take with you, you have to establish a criteria for the selection of items. Usually this is broken into two groups:

1. What do I need to take with me?

2. What do I want to take with me?

Items that are on both lists are obviously more desirable than items on one list or the other.

There is another question, however, that is also important:

3. What if I do not take this item with me?

Let's use an obvious example: Water. In Southern Louisiana, I rarely have to carry more than 16 ounces of water. It's far easier to just drop the filter tube into any number of abundant water sources than to carry a lot of water. So, if I am traveling to Honey Island Swamp, and I ask myself, "What if I do not take water bottles with me?", the answer is, "I'll just have to drink out of the filter tube, but that's not a big deal because water is everywhere."

If, however, I am traveling to Arizona with the intention of hiking in the desert, and I ask myself, "What if I do not take water bottles with me?", the answer is, "I'll probably die."

Anytime I get the 'probably die' answer, I always take the item. I also usually take the item if the answer is, 'could get mangled'.

It seems to work every time. For the weapon example, let's not use guns - since so many people are opposed to them in an irrational way - let's use a nice sturdy ash pole. Six feet long, 1.5 inches wide, weighs about 20 ounces, and makes an excellent walking stick. Same scenario: Honey Island Swamp. "What if I do not take this heavy pole with me?"

"Won't have anything to discourage alligators. Could get mangled. Won't have anything to help me drag myself out of the muck. Could get drowned. Take the pole."

This isn't an unreasonable or paranoid answer. I have had to fend off a few swamp lizards (alligators to you Yankees). Nothing serious, mind you, but not something you want to do with a Leki either. Add to the equation that people vanish in this area on a frighteningly regular basis (supposedly by being eaten by 'gators), then the pole becomes prudent. Trying to drag yourself out of a muck hole with a pair of Leki's is likely to end in two broken poles and a major 'Holy $h1t' moment.

Change the scenario to Arizona: "What if I do not take this heavy pole with me?" "My load will be lighter, and I'll be able to carry a set of hiking poles that are better suited to the terrain."

What you need - and even what you want - will be dependent on the terrain, the weather, and the prevailing circumstances in the area. You wouldn't carry snowshoes in the rain forest just in case it snows, and you wouldn't carry Bermuda shorts in Antarctica in case you decided to go for a swim. You would, however, carry those things in places where snow or swimming were possible - sometimes even when such occurrences may not be likely.

Of course, there is another theorem that is also popular; that is the ultra-light theorem, which essentially says: "It's better to leave something behind, rather than have to carry it, if you aren't going to use it." This is another inarguable theorem - which, like the first, disregards limits of ability, sanity, and prudent choice. Unfortunately, I have seen people follow it to its unfortunate end by discarding prudent things. The fallacy of this theorem is affecting more and more people, and the number of people who aren't carrying enough gear is on the rise.

There have been stores on the lists of such people. I personally came across group of hikers who had no first aid kit at all. "We've been hiking for years and never needed one!" After I patched the bleeding gash on one fellows leg, I recommended that they should reconsider the importance of eight ounces worth of first aid. Sometimes ounces mean the difference between life and death - and those are the ounces that count.

Many years ago I came across a pair of hikers who were going to freeze to death in the night because they didn't have enough gear and hadn't lit a fire. When I came upon their camp in the late evening, it had begun to white-out. Since they were obviously VERY cold, I asked them why they hadn't lit a fire yet, since the little sheltered spot could be warmed easily. I got an irate five minute lecture about the evils of camp fires and the principles of LNT. At the end, I told them that I would be glad to take messages to their next of kin and make sure that the rangers would be able to find their frozen bodies when I made it back to civilization. After a short pause, they asked me if I could spare some matches. They didn't have any, because they didn't expect to need fire...

Just a little bit of prudence goes a long way. Sometimes, though, when traveling in unfamiliar territory, mistakes can be made based on accurate experience in other places. Risks must be assessed appropriately, and you should be properly informed about those risks before making decisions about what - and what not - to take. Some people continue to consideration of certain items because they have never needed, or don't like it, and this is potentially very foolish.

Take for example a fictional hiker in Florida to paint the metaphor... Let's say that I have only hiked in Florida. I've been hiking there - and only there - my whole life. I have never carried a sleeping bag. I have never needed a sleeping bag. In all my experience, people who are carrying sleeping bags are carrying a burden of fear that is totally unnecessary. They are preparing for something - freezing to death - that statistically NEVER happens in Florida. I am convinced - as are all of my friends - that carrying a sleeping bag is just plain stupid. I hate sleeping bags, and won't even own one.

Eventually, we decide to hike outside Florida. We decide to go somewhere really remote. The Northwest Territories. In February. As the helicopter pilot drops us and our gear off, he notices our light packs and thin clothing, and asks us if we've got sleeping bags that are warm enough. "Sleeping bags!? We've been hiking for years and years and in all our vast experience we've never needed sleeping bags before, why should we need them now!?" camp... "So, where should we light the fire?" "Fire?" "Yeah, let's light a fire. I can't feel my fingers." "Ah, well, we could put it right here." "Great, let's find some fuel." "Ah, um, well, we haven't seen anything except rocks and ice all day..." "Rocks and ice? Come on guys, stop fooling around - you know I'm snow blind - just light the *&^%! fire." "Uh, maybe we should set up the tents..." "TENTS! Did I hear you say TENTS, heathen!? I only packed the tarps." "Tarps?" "Yeah, I've never needed walls before...and I've got lots of insect repellent if the bugs get bad."

An extreme example of risk management skewed by years of accurate experience...

So when I hear someone say that they won't carry something because they've never needed it, don't want it, and think that it's stupid, I just have to wonder what they will be thinking when they ARE faced with the situation where the DO need that item...

Of course, once the drunk hits you, it's too late to buckle your seat belt...

The converse is, of course, true as well. If we see someone hiking in Florida carrying their bomb-proof arctic tent and their -40 degree sleeping bag with the aluminumized vapor barrier, we will think that they are quite off their rocker when they declare, "I ALWAYS carry my sleeping bag. You never know when a bad storm will drop twelve inches of the white stuff..."

Of course, being over prepared isn't likely to kill you. Just make you miserable...

Edited by bigfoot2 on 07/01/2013 12:09:59 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: on 07/01/2013 12:55:56 MDT Print View

Great article but there are solid arguments to be made for carrying smaller calibers like .40 and 9mm.

The lethality of the round has much to do with penetration (I probably shouldn't use that word when penis arguments are being made), width (there I go again), and cavitation. Nothing against .45ACP but I can carry 10 jacketed hp 9mm in my Glock26. If I really wanted to push the envelope, I could carry a 33rd magazine and I'm red necked enough to do it! I agree with the author that ballistics is a complicated topic and outside the scope of his article but just wanted to throw that out there.

I see you carry a 9mm as well. I'm of the opinion that carrying quality ammunition is more important than the quality of the sidearm.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Caliber. on 07/01/2013 13:28:16 MDT Print View

Ian...I totally agree, but don't rule out even a small caliber .22LR round. Reagan was shot with that and one killed Bobby Kennedy. Skill and placement. Skill and placement. And luck :)


Edited by bigfoot2 on 07/01/2013 14:00:50 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Girly-Girl Man-Haters Club. on 07/01/2013 15:45:47 MDT Print View

Wow. Matthew, you really do have the reasoning and arguing prowess of a 7th grader.

You regurgitate old, worn out talking points from fanatical fringe groups that have long ago been debunked.

Because I'm a liberal from a big city you assume I'm a rabid gun control nut when in fact I support the 2nd amendment. ALL of it, including the part about the "well-regulated militia."

You assume that because I believe the cultural and social and innate desire to protect one's family with force or violence is strongly associated with testosterone and the male psyche I must be a man-hater. When in fact what it means is that I am one of those liberal college elites who study human behavior and why we do what we do. I can see how you'd get those confused.

Those are a ton of conclusions on your part, and all you are doing is furthering MY assumptions that you don't have the reasoning or critical thinking skills to think for yourself. And based on lots of your posts, I am now pretty convinced you really are a right wing, racist, misogynistic birther whack job.

And if you want to carry a gun, go for it. I honestly don't care. I still think you're paranoid, but I don't care.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Them be tears of joy! on 07/01/2013 16:03:06 MDT Print View

Chaff is back from the dead! Or so I can only assume since I don't have any historical perspective of what it was in its glory days.