Switchback Results: Parks, Firearms and Animal Rights

Illustration by  Wade Mickley.

Do you feel safer now that firearms are allowed in National Parks?

Yes: 80%

Allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns levels the playing field and makes the thieves and felons who want to take advantage of hikers think twice. —E., Winchester, Va.

I’m not worried about wild animals—just the savage human animal. If I’m in the backcountry, regardless of the laws, expect me to be packing a gun. Part of carrying a handgun is responsibility. A responsible firearms owner does not pull his gun and fire into the night and does not endanger anyone that has not already returned the favor. —Jesse Cecil, Morgantown, W.Va.

I feel safer knowing that my constitutional rights do not end at the park gate. Legal concealed weapons are a great way for the smaller and weaker to protect themselves against those who intend to harm others. There are bad people out there, and the good people should have the right to protect themselves. —Matt, Richmond, Va.

Sleep tight in your sleeping bags this summer knowing that the bad guys now won’t be sure whether you have a pistol in your tent. You are safer. —Edward, Fort Mill, S.C.

No: 20%

I don’t feel safe, because I do not trust the average gun owner to be responsible. I do not want some scared false bravado firing into the air to scare a bear. I have had run-ins with mountain lions and bears but still never felt like I needed a firearm. —Justin, Greenville, N.C.

The odds of being harmed in a national park are much less than they are in an urban area. Carrying a gun just increases the risk of accidental danger. —Ben Jacobson, Raleigh, N.C.

A national park is a sanctuary for people and for wildlife. Leave your gun at home. It is like smoking; keep your bad habits and your emotional crutch away from those I care about. —Anonymous, via e-mail

It’s not about the gun; it’s about the individual with the gun. Because I don’t know that individual, I’ll always be wondering about how responsible they are with a weapon. I worry that people’s first instincts will be to use the gun. —Jay, Charlottesville, Va.

Do animals have rights?

Yes: 79%

They at least have the right to be treated humanely and the right to preservation of their habitats. —Bryan James, Atlanta, Ga.

Laws should be stricter against those who abuse, starve, or neglect animals. Prosecute them as if it were a case involving a human. Animals feel pain and get hungry. They deserve to be protected. —Anonymous, Charleston, W. Va.

No: 21%

Animals cannot only have rights without responsibilities. If animals do have rights, then we need to set up courts and try them for murder and stealing. —Roy McGinnis, Greenville, S.C.

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