Wilderness Will Not Ban Guns…

Dear Editor,

In answer to the young man who asked about carrying firearms in wilderness, yes, you did miss something. The Code of Federal Regulations is a lot like a textbook. If you only read one phrase out of context, you may misunderstand the entire chapter. Title 36 has a lot more sections in it than 261.57, and none automatically ban firearms or hunting in wilderness areas. Also, neither the Wilderness Act of 1964 or Title 36 uses the words “no mechanical device”. The actual phrase is “mechanical transport.” Transport means a vehicle, such as a car, truck, bicycle, aircraft or mechanized boat.

It is true that “each Forest Supervisor may issue orders which close or restrict” local uses (36CFR261.50), and that includes prohibiting possession of firearms and firework (36CFR261.57) in wilderness.  However, similar restrictive orders prohibiting “discharging a firearm, air rifle, or gas gun” and “hunting or fishing” can occur on any part of the National Forest (36CFR261.58). You should have learned in school that the word “may” does not mean the same thing as “will”. Orders such as these, like those that restrict campfires, occur only when there is a good reason (for example, wildfire danger) and are usually temporary.

Bonnie Jakubos

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