Many people have concealed carry permits. It is your legal right to carry a firearm with you if you have a permit, but I think that there are some cases where you don’t need to be armed. On the one hand you’d like to think that hiking with a concealed weapon wouldn’t really be necessary or be worth the trouble of packing your pistol. Though not often, there are sometimes attacks on the trails and you never can be too safe.
Disclaimer: Do not take any advice or information on this page as fact. Do your own research and seek the advice of a professional first.
Can You Concealed Carry While Hiking?
People usually go hiking in state and national parks most of the time, and the legality of bringing a concealed firearm is going to vary in different parks, counties, and states. It will be up to you to check into the laws. I did some research on the laws for one state, Tennessee. Please see below for what I found. Other states may have similar laws.
Here’s some info on the concealed carry laws in Tennessee state and national parks, as an example.
Tennessee State Parks
According to tnstateparks.com you can carry a concealed firearm in a Tennessee state park if you are in compliance with TCA: 39-17-1351. Be sure to have your permit with you and follow the laws regarding carrying your firearm. Do not discharge your firearm unless you are in a situation that calls for it in order to protect yourself.
Tennessee National Parks
The following pertains to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park only, if you are visiting a different national park in Tennessee check the laws for that specific park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park allows you to carry a concealed firearm within the park as long as you are in compliance with federal, local and state laws. According to nps.gov, as of Feb 22, 2010, a new law came into effect allowing for this.
As always, be sure to have your permit on you and ready to present to a park ranger or law enforcement officer in the off chance that you are asked to present it.
There may still be areas within the park prohibiting you from carrying your firearm there, so look for signs.
Should you concealed carry hike?
Some people like to have their firearm with them everywhere, kind of like their wallet. People can get used to taking it everywhere, I get that. I personally don’t own a handgun and do not carry one when hiking.
There are some situations that may justify it, but they are unlikely. There may also be better alternatives than carrying a sidearm, like hiking in groups. Or carrying a knife.
Here are a few examples where you may need one.
- You have a run in with a mountain lion (pretty unlikely)
- Cross paths with an black bear – bear spray is a better option
- You are attacked by someone – other hikers are usually friendly, but attacks do happen rarely.
- A rattlesnake? just walk around it, if you didn’t see it and it bites you then it’s too late for a gun
I guess ask yourself why you really want to even take it, then again… you may be saying to me, why not take it? It’s probably compact, lightweight and will take up minimal space in your bag or on your side. If that is your stance, you certainly have a point. It doesn’t hurt anyone to take it, my point is that you may not always need to.
If you do decide to concealed carry while hiking
If you are just going for a day hike and you don’t already have one, there are many tactical style backpacks like this one on Amazon that would be perfect for keeping your gun safe.
However if you are really out in backcountry away from civilization, what’s the need to even conceal it? Just get you a belly band holster or maybe even a tactical holster of some type. There are many options for you, some that you probably already have if you are a gun owner.