As reported in a June 8 WashingtonPost.com article, the National Park Service this week honored Ranger Scott Emmerich as the recipient of this year’s “Harry Yount Award,” the agency’s highest honor for park rangers.
As the article noted, Emmerich has worked at Glacier National Park since 1989 and supervises a 250,000-acre region with 170 miles of trail, 39 miles of road, 28 miles of river, 18 miles of the U.S.-Canada border, four campgrounds, four lakes and the Continental Divide. He started his career at Yosemite National Park.
While conducting an interview that served as a basis for the article, the interviewer asked this first, politically-charged question: The National Park Service lifted gun restrictions in parks in February. Has it changed your job and impacted visitors?
Emmerich responded, saying, “I guess the biggest thing I’m cautious of, is to not violate a person’s Second Amendment rights. It’s legal for them to carry a gun. Emmerich continued, “There are some people who used to say they would never hike in Glacier National Park, but now they do because they’re packing. They were worried about bears before, but now they can carry guns. The gun issue is controversial, and it’s one that people thought might be blown out of proportion. But it shouldn’t be. It’s not that big a deal. We’ll get used to it, we’ll adapt and it shouldn’t change our lives at all. We’ll just be careful and respect peoples’ rights to carry a handgun or shotgun or rifle.”
Criminal activity in national parks is a very real danger, and one that rangers take seriously. When asked, “What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your 20+ years?” Emmerich replied, “As a park ranger, I’m moving away from being more of a resource management type of ranger, and we’re trending more towards being police officers. That’s a hard adjustment for me. I long for the days when I wasn’t required to wear a bulletproof vest and body armor at all times. . . .”
Lawful carrying in national parks and wildlife refuges went into effect earlier this year. The new law restores the right of law-abiding gun owners to transport and carry firearms for lawful purposes in national parks and wildlife refuges, according to the laws of the states in which these public lands are located. For more information, please click here, or visit www.NRAILA.org.