One of our writers (who shall remain nameless) emailed me today about his trip into the wilderness. “While hiking, I ran into a twenty-something carrying an 16″ [modern home sporting rifle] AR. On the way out ran into a fellow with an XD.” Our man was leading a Boy Scout Troop. So he wasn’t carrying, was he? No, he wasn’t. Because The Boy Scouts of America forbids it. From the Guide to Safe Scouting; Shooting Sports: “Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking, or other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of a currently certified BSA or National Rifle Association firearms instructor.” Is that a sensible precaution? Would the ban stop you from being a troop leader or sending your child into the wilderness with the Scouts? What’s your take on the Scouts “gun-free” leadership policy?

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112 Responses to Question of the Day: Should The Boy Scouts Allow Troop Leaders to Carry?

  1. I don’t go into any forest without a means to protect myself. Let alone bring other peoples children into the woods like that. That is just stupid. There are more four-legged predators in the world than two-legged ones. Though you may meet either variety in the woods

    • I am licensed to carry open and concealed. The BSA Oath falls into line under the US Constitution, so their own rule is in violation of their Oath. Unless the BSA provides meaningful protection for my children on outdoor treks (and indoor adventures as well for that matter), as a parent and a law abiding citizen the safety of my children trumps National Council’s shortsightedness every time. They don’t know it, but if any Scout gets put into danger which might have been avoided with legal personal protection that was prohibited, then the BSA organization becomes complicit and liable for said damage.

  2. The leadership at the BSA is screwed up all the way to the top. I have no hope for them in ANY capacity!

    • Like many of you all (I’d suspect), one of my first exposures to recreational shooting was in the Boy Scouts, which at the age of 12 WAS FRIGGING AWESOME!!!!

      But that’s not allowed anymore, because everybody knows our Liberal Progressive Betters are salivating for the first opportunioty to sue the BSA out of existence.

      So like everything else on Planet Nanny, anything with the slightest element of inherent risk, excitement or freedom of action M-U-S-T G-O.

      • Right – because everyone knows that the organization that bans gay scouts / scoutmasters / Atheists / Buddhists / etc. is super liberal…

        • He didn’t say the BSA was a liberal group. He said liberal progressives are seeking opportunities to sue the BSA.

          And BTW, the BSA is a private organization, and therefore not required to honor the whiny, mewing from every douchebag grievance group. If you want to start your own group, go ahead. I’d suggest naming it the JTJ Hand-Wringers Non-Denominational Earth-Momma Happy-Huggers, Annonymous (JTJHWNDEMHHA).

      • I saw online that Camp Keowa (of TMR) still has a rifle range. They even have benches now, the wussies. 8)

        • Supported benchrest is, by far, the easiest position to use to teach new shooters. It’s also the most inherently accurate of any shooting position I have ever used.

      • Actually, the BSA still includes firearms in the program; Cub Scouts still use BB guns, Boy Scouts still use .22LR rifles along with 12 and 20 gauge shotguns, and Venture Scouts still use pretty much anything that isn’t a Machinegun. This isn’t just my local council, but National’s very own policy.

        Also, I serve as a part of my local council’s rangemaster corps, and thus I end up helping run shooting activities (which require both an RO and an instructor, or a Campschool certified SSD) several times during the winter camping season.

      • The BSA does still allow shooting both shotgun and rifle and venter scouts (or any scout over a certain age at some camps) are allowed to shoot pistols.
        There are caliber limits however. I believe 30.6 is the largest riffle round and I don’t now on the shotguns and pistols, but I do now that 12 gauges are allowed.

  3. Can’t say what my opinion’d be if I had kids or was interested in being a Troop Leader but I certainly wouldn’t join any organization that forbade me from carrying a lawful means of self defense.

    • Too bad a majority of medium to large sized employers forbid carry in their policies. If you can find employment that doesn’t forbid it good for you. It’s sort of hard in some industries unless you’re self employed.

  4. 4H in WI is the same way EVEN when engaged in shooting sports. All shooting sports coaches were issued special letters allowing them to have and handle firearms only for instructional purposes while engaged in coaching after concealed carry became legal.

    Stupid, yes, just as the BS rule is BS.

    happy shooting, dv

  5. “Be prepared”
    Except when we say so.

    Honestly I can understand why they would have such a policy. The last thing they need is a media shitstorm when one of the pack leaders fails to observe the 4 rules of gun safety, or one of the kids swipe the thing from the scoutmasters tent.

    And while you may have taught your children proper safety precautions the fact is that a majority of today’s scouts are no more responsible or well behaved then the average child.

    And I suppose as a privately owned origination they can do what they please.

  6. I was an Assistant Scoutmaster for 5 years and Committee Chairman for 3. My son made Eagle in 2006. Even though I had my TN carry permit, I did not carry at the time, so I was not troubled by the BSA prohibition on adults carrying weapons. I believe it to be more of a liability issue than anything else. Obviously the BSA is not opposed to the Second Amendment nor firearms as they offer shotgun and rifle merit badges and firearms are present at many BSA camps.

    Now that I carry, I would have to seriously consider whether or not I would participate in Scouting. But on the other hand, knowing what I know, and what a positive experience we had in Scouting, I actually would do it all over again. But I understand someone who has not had that experience not being willing to give up their right to carry. I would like to see the BSA relax its policy on adults with permits carrying on outing and at meetings.

    The only other thing I will say is this: concealed means concealed.

    • “Obviously the BSA is not opposed to the Second Amendment nor firearms …”

      I disagree. If they do not allow law abiding citizens with carry permits to be armed, they are not pro-Second Amendment.

      • And I understand why you have that opinion. When I started carrying, I had problems with the policy myself, while before that, I wasn’t even aware of it. After my role changed from Asst SM to Committee Chair, I ignored it and carried every time I presided over the committee. No one ever knew, not even the Scoutmaster, and he and I were the best of friends. I wasn’t going to put him in that situation.

        • I have been in law enforcement for 27 years and I notice things that u don’t mention because I think in todays culture of, ‘let’s shoot some folks up so I can get my 15 minutes of fame, a carry ban is more of a liability than not allowing carry. I notice, some times, yeah, he’s probably carrying… And him… And maybe her… OK… Back to the program, I feel safer.

  7. Its unsurprising that a group linked heavily with fascism forbids its members from being able to protect themselves.

    • Being scared witless of potential liability (whether justified or not) is quite different than being simply tyrannical about what your members can or cannot do.

    • I support the right of the Boy Scouts to discriminate because they are a private club. The problem is that they are supported by the federal government, if they want federal support then they need to stop discriminating. Otherwise they should refuse any further federal support and stand on their own.

      I still haven’t decided if I want my son to take part in scouting. I did and I really enjoyed it but I disagree with discriminating against gays and atheists/agnostics. Luckily he is only one and a half so I’ve got a while to make up my mind. I know that I would continue to carry if I participated in the activities, concealed means concealed.

      • I’m agnostic (not atheistic), an Eagle, and I carry to all troop functions in my home state. At times, I even carry on BSA property.

        Mostly, it’s because I take my word more seriously than National’s handwringing. Every week I reaffirm my commitment to the principals of the scouting movement. As far as I’m concerned, I have never made any pledges to obey National, ergo my obligations supersede their handwringing.

    • Are you stating that because the Scouts call upon their members to believe in a higher-power (some use the name God here), and the BSofA calls upon its members to adhere to a heterosexual orientation, that makes the Scouts heavily fascist, not just fascist? Said more simply, are they fascists (in your view) because they do not accept members or troop leaders who are gay? So what. They are a private organization and can do as they choose. Are Orthodox Jewish synagogues fascist because they will not wed a non-Jewish lesbian couple or allow them to attend services? Would the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir accept, as a regular choir member, a heterosexual conservative woman?

      • orthodox jews wouldn’t let non jewish lesbians attend services because they don’t have penises, not because they are non jewish or homosexual.

        • 🙂 There are orthodox services for women too. They are usually just seated on different sides/places of the synagogue or with a barrier between them.

        • There are MANY non-profit(!?) organizations and other political action groups that get federal grant money and support that do discriminate, and break other laws. The difference is that many of those are politically-correct and support the government agenda.

    • You really need to bone up on fascism. Fascism simply derives from the word, “fascia,” denoting a collectivist form of government. It is an advanced form of Marxist socialism where the government doesn’t own the means of production but, rather, dictates to it. So, fascism can only be practiced by a socialist leaning (not a libertarian leaning) government. Certainly not by a volunteer, privately owned, and not-for-profit organization such as the BSA. You may be mistaking fascism for patriotism, which the BSA does espouse. However, in America, it is a patriotism based on the founding principles of maximizing individual liberty as outlined in the Bill of Rights and as undermined by Obamafascists, Islamofascists, and the fascists in the ACLU, all of which espouse government control of everything so they can have you live the way they allow. Now, back to the topic of being able to carry to scout activities. As an individual Scout leader, I would support it. However, the BSA has been sued for every little accident that happens and I am sure they have weighed the potential liability. So, I will probably leave my weapon at home on our 50 miler this summer.

    • Dr. Dave, you really need to educate yourself on fascism before you associate it with the BSA. The word, “fascism,” comes from the root, “fascia,” which means bundle. It is only applicable to a particularly virulent form of collectivist totalitarian government with a Marxist/socialist economy and all power concentrated in a dictator. The BSA’s military origin came not from a fascist regime but, rather, a very capitalistic empire with a monarchy and a bicameral representative legislature, Great Britain. Not exactly a democracy but nearly as far from fascism as you can get. So, back to the topic: I would carry on BSA activities if allowed. However, I am not interested in putting the BSA in the way of truly fascist leaning organizations like the ACLU who would be perfrectly happy taking our guns away or other sharks in the legal community who want to sue the BSA over every accident.

  8. My Dad is a professional Scouter and an active shooter, my younger brother is the Asst. GM and former RSO at a Class 3 store and range most of the year, during the summer he leads the high adventure program at a boy scout camp…
    Bad policy decisions (including their stance on gays, atheists, stuff like this…) have led me not to be involved with Boy Scouts at all. I really think my Brother would be safer during his scout job if he were allowed to carry, and know he agrees.

  9. I’m not real big on a firearm that would be unsecured at times around a bunch of boys. Dude with weapon has to sleep, shower, swim, etc sometime.

    • Simple solution: pack a NanoVault. Sure, it’s some additional weight, but when you have to do those activities you can lock your weapon up.

    • Or a simple trigger lock would be highly effective while showering … about the size and weight of a golf ball when it is rolling around in a gear bag.

  10. I have been an assistant scoutmaster in my son’s troop for the last 7 years and will be done soon as he has aged out last month. The scouting policy toward guns is odd. There are merit badges for rifle and shotgun, but the boys have to be 13 to earn them and the merit badge counselor for them must be a NRA range safety officer. I helped out two summers ago with the shotgun badge as they were short some adult supervision. I am not an RSO but there were a couple of them there. I got critiqued once when I told a scout to pick up a weapon instead of calling it a firearm or shotgun.

    The Boy Scouts, however, do not have pistol shooting or a pistol merit badge. There is pistol shooting for older Explorer Scouts.

    As far as carrying on camping, there is no hope for them changing. They are a great organization and do wonderful things making young boys into leaders. I wouldn’t not do scouting because of this.

    • Weapon vs firearm is an NRA thing, and I don’t disagree with it.

      In short, weapon is a statement of intent; with intent, ANYTHING can become a weapon, including a firearm. Lacking that intent however, a firearm is just a firearm, and not a weapon.

  11. The BSA policy is a sign of the times. I honestly don’t know the history of it, but I do know a few people who have questioned it at their district and council levels and gotten nowhere (either non responses or sorry-that’s-the-policy responses).

    I suspect that changing the policy will be a lot like changing a plank of a national level political party: years and years of infiltration, playing the game, and suffering the bureaucracy until one can get to a point where one can affect national policy. I suppose it could be done bottom up, but would still need to be done by many people who have “earned respect” through years of seniority in adult leadership and committee membership…against more suffering of lots of bureaucracy.

    Change from within is a no go for most people unless they’re really into scouting. Change from without or event as just another adult partner of a scout isn’t going to happen.

  12. I’m a Cub Scout den leader and frankly, I didn’t know the BSA had this blanket policy (Thanks a lot, TTAG). I know firearms are prohibited on campouts, but I have carried anyway. I keep the gun on me at all times or next to me in my tent with the mag out of the gun. I’m not breaking the law, and if I’m found out, they can go ahead and disavow me. Better that than facing some American version of Anders Brevik unarmed.

    Let’s not throw the BSA under the bus because of this misguided policy (yes, it’s probably the lawyers — no alcohol is allowed on campouts either). We are one of the only organizations left that actively promote the shooting sports to young people. I’ve got peacenik UU boys learning knife skills, archery and riflery alongside sons of hunters and gun guys. They love it and the parents understand how good it is for these urban boys to be outdoors and doing adventurous things (and seeing that guns themselves are not violent). Better they learn firearm handling at 13 than never.

  13. There are bears in the woods. Bears eat deer. Boy Scouts run slower than deer.

    Three facts to consider, should one wish to get involved.

  14. Yes.

    I guess “Be Prepared” is just a cute, dismissive motto. And why would you trust children to the care of someone you don’t trust with an inanimate tool?

  15. One facet of gun control laws that must not be ignored amidst the other issues , is that it denies positive exposure of arms to youth. The NRA may not be up to speed on the matter completely, but Sarah Brady and company fully understand that the road to a disarmed society is partly paved by the ignorance of the next generation. How can an unconstitutional gun law be overturned if the next generation of voters never understand why it should be?

    Restoring positive exposure of the 2nd Amendment to schools and children -of which comprise our universities and Boy Scout troops-will represent a vicious battleground for that very reason. Once the children are taught properly, any hope of turning America into Soviet Amerkia will go down the drain it belongs in.

    • Honestly, I think a large part of why our side of the debate is moving forward, while the antis are regressing, is due to video games and movies.

      The majority of those in my generation have played so many FPS games, and seen so many violent movies, that guns are largely considered to be the bees knees. Most of us aren’t afraid of them in the way that previous generations were because we have had far more exposure, and so much of it has been positive.

      Distilled to it’s simplest, we see other people shooting guns, who appear to be having fun, and we logically conclude that shooting guns must be an enjoyable activity. Previous generations have largely lacked the first, and it strikes me that this is a large part of why the antis were able to get so much passed.

  16. As an Eagle Scout and former Scout staffer, I can tell you that the weapons policy stems entirely from fear of liability. The policy on alcohol? Well, Mormons have a lot of pull in Scouting, and alcohol is verboten for them, so it is for all Scouting adults of legal age.

    Can it be changed? Maybe. For an organization that was founded by a military hero, it’s not as gung-ho about guns as it could be. Often enough, Scouting has had to defend itself from accusations that it’s just a paramilitary indoctrination camp (thanks Red Dawn). The upper ranks are populated by the equivalents of career civil servants. There’s not going to be change unless gun culture becomes really acceptable. So… Maybe in another 100 years?

      • I am willing to bet that that isn’t the reason. The idea of practicing homosexuals leading a group of young men into the woods should give any one pause.

        • I have my doubts about any open homosexual molesting kids. When I was 9-10 or so, one of the leaders in the other cub scout dens had a habit of rolling around on children that were sleeping over at his house. I say ‘habit’ but it only happened once to my knowledge. Guy had a wife and kids, wasn’t a homosexual as far as I could tell. So glad I never slept over at that guy’s house when I was a kid. Always thought it was a bit odd to have a sleepover at an adult’s house.

          I don’t recall what happened to him after that, but he wasn’t trusted around anyone’s kids.

        • One of the kids in my scout troop had a single mother, his father had died when he was very young. She was very active in the troop and came along on most of the trips. Why wasn’t she banned from attending?

          Why not just ban pedophiles? Homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals.

        • This.

          What people seem to forget is that, in Boy Scouts, only roughly 1/3 of the scouts are prepubescent. This means that the only ones that are the target of pedophiles are the youngest 1/3 of the boys.

          Of the other two thirds, there are many cases where the body matures significantly faster than the mind; This can lead to cases where a 15 year old looks very much like an adult externally, but mentally is still a child.

          Furthermore, homosexual men are often fairly intensely male, especially when it comes to certain male behavioral traits (especially promiscuity, and a predilection for engaging in risky sexual behaviors); As such, the ban on homosexual leaders exists especially to protect the older demographic of the youth membership.

          Furthermore, in our highly litigious society, the ban on homosexual leaders functions as a means of protecting the program from the negative consequences of molestation. As a practical point, I don’t see an effective middle ground (one that both protects the youth, as well as the adults, and the organization) between the long-standing positions of the BSA and the Catholic Church.

    • “…Often enough, Scouting has had to defend itself from accusations that it’s just a paramilitary indoctrination camp…”

      Actually though, they’re partially right, at least once you dismiss the “indoctrination” part.

      My understanding is that a motivating factor in his founding of the scouting movement was the inconsistent, and often non-existent, survival skills of military recruits. The long and the short of it, is that Scouting For Boys is basically a rewrite of previous writings by Baden-Powell, minus most or all of the military-specific aspects.

      Thus, one could certainly argue that scouting is paramilitary, at least insofar as it teaches skills that are supremely useful to one in military service.

  17. I understand the liability issues in most cases (don’t agree, but do understand), but what if you are camping in real grizzly bear territory? Hell, even Canadians carry guns when they go into Griz territory.

  18. I am surprised by the no gun rule. Human threats aside, the BSofA has never had issues with snakes, bears, cougars, etc? I find that hard to believe. I hope some local leaders (hopefully with professional training) carry in the woods whether under the pretext of target shooting or otherwise.

  19. Still, it’s a shame. When I was 11 I took my hunter safety course from my troop leader. The BSA troop sponsored it, and he was an NRA instructor. Part of the course was a range qual with .22.

    I remember the awe I felt when I walked into the troop meeting for the class and there on the table were a variety of shotguns, rifles, and handguns. We were taught safe handling practices, and allowed to handle these under very close supervision.

    I can imagine the nannies getting their panties in a bunch if that happened today.

  20. I believe the ban is nonsense and yes it would stop me from being a troop leader or sending my child into the wilderness with the Scouts. It violates their “Be Prepared” motto. Apparently that motto doesn’t apply to being prepared to defend oneself or the children in your care from attack. Seems like a big gaping hole to me.

    It’s really sad that so many clubs, businesses, and organizations value their dollars more than human life. I say this because so many people claim that such entities ban firearms because they believe they would be liable if someone misused a firearm at their venue.

  21. This is news to me. I would have thought that it was a safety requirement just like a 1st aid kit. Everybody knows you dont go in the wood without a gun. I was 10 years old backpacking with dad and i had my 22 revolver. Oh well it is what it is

  22. What’s the worst that happens if you bring a gun and don’t need it, but someone finds out? You get tossed from the Boy Scouts? Is that it? Not something I’d lose sleep over.

    What’s the worst that happens if you obey BSA policy, but turns out you really needed a gun?

      • Yes…after the child has beaten you to death with a hatchet and taken the gun from you. Because if you didn’t want to be found out, the gun is carried in deep concealment and never mentioned/shown to anyone.

        If you’re stupid enough to not take precautions from someone accessing the gun, you shouldn’t be a troop leader/shouldn’t be carrying at all.

  23. I am sure this is a case of the BSA’s risk managment department setting policy based on the cost of liability insurance.

  24. Their policy would not have any legal binding to keep you from carrying. It might make they remove you as a scout master if they found out, but… Concealed means concealed.

  25. There are scout leaders (mostly) in Alaska that carry. The threat of bear attacks there is very real. It is kind of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” scenario. Where I live (Illinois) there is no reason for leaders to carry, for the most part anywhere you’re camping is 99x safer than in town.

  26. Its been a few years since I’ve been involved with the BSA. Maybe I (and everyone I “scouted” with) was doing it wrong. Never camped, hiked or fished without one (or several) of the troop leaders carrying. I earned my Eagle Scout Award on my 14th birthday and attended two national jamborees. If this is what the BSA stands for, it’s not the organization I thought it was.

  27. Just because the Scout Leader isn’t allowed to carry doesn’t mean there aren’t a few volunteer Dad’s that are following the Always be Prepared motto.

    • BSA is also getting VERY picky about who can go on campouts, as well as insisting that adult leaders be “properly trained” for their positions.

  28. “A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he seeks to have them changed in an orderly way.”

    If you want to be a Scout Master, you follow the BSA’s rules. If you disagree with the rules, try to change them in an orderly way. Anyone who won’t obey the rules is free to go somewhere else.

      • Ralph, ya might also look into the ORIGIONAL history of scouting, too. I’m glad our Founding Fathers didn’t drink King Georges’ “orderly way” Kool-aid. Not condoning violence, just smirking at your Hitler-Youth-always follow every rule stance, there. I believe the “I was just following orders” thing doesn’t fly. I would never be the same if I watched someone hurt anyone, let alone a scout under my care, because I left my firearm/defensive tool, in the safe. No-one EVER knew I had one, I never needed it, although the drugger things could have gone either way, and all were safer. I love the “in-spite-of” world we live in, where I would need to say, “I saved several scouts lives, IN SPITE OF THE POLICY”. Can you say “victim”?

  29. I was a scout leader. Our camping trips took us places where we actually hiked among forest roads and happened upon several drug deal type situations, with really interesting individuals. I began carrying (I have a permit)as well as at least one other assistant scoutmaster, and NEVER lost sleep over it. I figured if I was kicked out it would be because I saved a scouts life. I am an Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow Vigil, and it pains me to see the Scouts become more and more Candy-A’ed every year. A “video game” merit badge, please! I left when the troop was allowed to vote on their next trip and it was unanimous for a “video game arcade day”, NOT camping in the mountains or Jeeping. I’ll take my two sons out and teach them correctly about the woods.

    • To Legion7: There is no “video game merit badge” in Scouting. Nothing even close. BSA recently added a welding merit badge. They have had a computer badge and an electronics badge for quite a while but they are serious work and don’t involve gaming.

      There may be a Merit Badge that does not strike someone as worthwhile or interesting but that is why there are so many. Most are optional, allowing the Scout a way to learn more in areas that interest him.

      Our troop has a “no electronics” rule for meetings and activities. The troops in our area strive to avoid electronic games. Personally, if we are on a trip to Philmont (980 miles) I don’t mind if they occupy the drive time with a game. It promotes driver sanity.

      When your sons are the correct age find a Cub Scout Den for them. It will be a great legacy for your family.

      • Ahhhhh. My bad, it’s a Belt Loop, NOT a merit badge!!! Ya got me there.

        http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2363331,00.asp

        Anyways, I still contend that BSA is a shell of what it was… I had a really bad scout that caused a lot of trouble and is now in jail as an adult. I called him on a couple of thefts etc. and his mother IMMEDIATELY came down screaming to the next troop meeting. I was married but had no kids at the time, which she then used to accuse me of wanting to be around little boys. Nice. The area leadership was all there at a seperate meeting, and not one of them told her to settle down. They immediately CYA’d and left me standing there taking the heat. Really Nice. I am presently looking in to Law Enforcement because I’m such a bad guy, and to even be accused by someone of that was the end. I was a multiple merit badge counselor for the area, and proud to give back, until that moment.

        No thanks again. I’ll take my sons to learn about right and wrong, the environment and self sufficiency somewhere else until I see a troop that values the right things.

  30. I have been a long time Scouter and I currently serve as a Scoutmaster. I have four sons of whom two are Eagle Scouts. The younger two are on track to earn this rank in a couple of years.

    The term “leader” in Scouting involves to very different groups. Scoutmasters and other trained adult volunteers are leaders but the concept of how to run a scout troop is to have the boys elect “Patrol Leaders” from within their group. The patrol leaders do almost everything to lead the troop. The Scoutmaster oversees the operation, coordinates with the sponsoring organization, provides transportation, and keeps the boys safe. This is very much at odds with the perception of the American public but basically a Scoutmaster should never do anything a Scout can do. My use of the term leaders herein refers to the role of the adults.

    BSA encourages gun experience with two Merit Badges, shotgun and rifle. They don’t have hunting activities for regular Scouts. It may be possible that Explorer Scouts vary on this but regular Scouting never involves hunting. Rifle shooting is on a range using .22 single shot rifles only. My understanding is that you do not need to be a RSO to teach the badges but you are required to be a NRA certified instructor.

    Many people here and across the nation don’t like the BSA policy discriminating against homosexuals from leadership positions. This policy exists for two reasons; the safety of the youth and to comfort the parents. As a volunteer organization BSA has had huge problems dealing with child molesters over the past one hundred years. All of them have been homosexuals. Eliminate homosexual leaders and you stop almost all of the problem. There is no effort in BSA to identify and eliminate homosexual youth. For anyone to identify a youth as a homosexual or to take any action against a boy for such a perception is very much against the purpose of the organization. But the boys are not the problem. I do not see a good way for BSA to accept gay adults into leadership and have the organization survive.

    BSA has developed far reaching rules regarding how adults interact with the boys to keep them safe. These rules are sometimes inconvenient but nevertheless should always be adhered to. A Scoutmaster should always be of a gentleman and the first duty of a gentleman is to protect children. I know gay men who I respect as gentlemen and who have the skills and morals to be good Scout leaders but they would not be able to gain the confidence of the parents. The risk to the child, your child, comes at too great of a cost to take the chance.

    BSA is premier organization in America for developing boys and young men into better men. Every Scout, regardless of ability, will have his capacity for achievement and leadership greatly expanded. BSA can not succeed if the Scouts are not safe and the parents do not have confidence in the leaders to protect them.

    Our concealed carry laws vary greatly from state to state. I never carry in lawfully prohibited places which in my state involves very specific signage. We have recently had an adult leader murdered by a knife attack and we sometimes encounter wild hogs or bears. Bear spray is a good tool but it cannot help if you are out of spray range or if the boy is caught between you and the animal which accounts for more than half of these circumstances.

    I believe very strongly in the Scout Motto, “Be Prepared”. The parents of all of the Scouts in my troop know I have concealed carry permit. I offer the parents firearm instruction with their sons on a personal (not a Scout activity) basis if the parents are not shooters themselves. They know I will never engage in any instruction or firearm activity without their approval including work on the Merit Badges.

  31. I carry legally with permit. Currently a CM. It is locked up in my truck since Cub Scout really do not go any place. When my boys cross over I look forward to taking them on some great true remote outings. At that time I will have it with me. Most of those crazy rules are in place to keep the legal nuts happy. A gun is a tool which can save a life. Any tool that is used incorrectly can harm someone. Most people who carry them see them as insurance. Scouting is getting to soft in some ways. But it is what you make of it and do. If you are worried about guns you may become the one that could put others in danger. Because ignorance breeds dangerous environments. Telling a scout NO is not the best way telling him to KNOW is how they learn.
    I will keep carrying. Will not put myself or my kids at risk by going unarmed.

  32. What a shame. I learned how to shoot in the Scouts when I was ten. Later when I received my first EIC badge in Military competition. I was asked where I learned to shoot. The Gunny who asked me said that’s where he had learned also.

  33. So, it might only apply to the “Great Alaska Council” but up here in Fairbanks, if you can legally carry a firearm ( read: over 18, or 21 for long gun or pistol), you can do so while participating in a scout function. I know I’ve been asked by the troop I mentor at to bring shot-guns for bear protection on hikes and camping trips. I also know that at the in-town meetings they’ve asked to not have openly carried guns… only because it has in the past distracted from the lesson. Maybe our council is willfully ignorent of this rule, or maybe we got an exception.

    I am actually a bit surprised that the national BSA rules prevent carrying or firearms.

  34. I’ve been an Assistant Scoutmaster and a Venturing Crew Advisor for over 20 years. I’ve taken Scouts and Venturers hiking and canoing from Colorado’s 14’ers to the Boundary Waters area to the Appalachian Trail.
    I cannot say that there has ever been a time when I’d have needed a handgun, rifle or shotgun – following all proper safety precautions. We’ve seen black bears – but at a safe distance because we follow the rules for camping in bear country.
    If I were in Alaska, that would be another issue – but in the lower 48, not so much.
    But – FWIW, in Venturing (the co-ed 14-20-year-old program) we can carry on hunting trips. Venturing allows the youth to shoot handguns, and Venturers can go hunting. So there are some exceptions.

  35. Generally, i have found the BSA organization to have figured out most everything so i gave up my natural predilection to buck authority. both my sons are Eagle scouts and my wife and I agree that Scouting was THE BEST thing ever to help raise our boys. i have never been involved with a finer organization or one that paid better dividends. the trouble my kids have avoided and the leadership & teamwork lessons are invaluable. i think the scouts have this figured right. legally they have to proscribe against carrying knowing that smart leaders will use good judgment whether to obey the rule or not. I think most parks outlaw guns too, federal(?) and state of Maryland does. i was not a scout but enjoyed being an adult leader. Great!!

  36. I agree that the BSA is one of the best organizations for boys in the world. I have participated for many years even after I obtained the Eagle award. However, in recent years, I feel that the BSA has moved away from the very principles that made them great to appease the lawyers and left wing agenda. The 2nd amendment of the constitution supercedes the BSA policy. Therefore I carry either concealed or open depending on what is convenient since I do have a CCW and live in AZ. My Scout leaders carried on scouting trips into the wilderness when I was growing up and I will do the same. Nobody has had an issue with it so far in my troop. If they do, I will pull my boy out of the Scouting program for good.

  37. As a former Scout Master I can tell you that I was aware of the BSA rule. That being said I chose to ignore it and exercise my CCW permit to carry when we went camping, I know of at least one other Scout Master that did the same, we kept our firearms out of sight but close to hand and NEVER let the Scouts know we were armed with anything more than our pocket knives. Our philosphy was simple, if the firearms were needed to stop a two legged attack or deal with a rabid animal then we could live with ourselves if we were banned from scouting however we could not stand the idea of having to live the rest of our days knowing a Scout in our charge was harmed or killed and we had the ability but not the tool to prevent it..

    • i was fortunate to be a scoutmaster for over 10 years and was faced with more leadership challenges than any other activity i have encountered. it was also the BEST leadership training i have been associated with as well, for me & the boys! that being said if you allowed the dictates of ‘council’ (the paid guys) to govern your troop you would be overwhelmed by administrative drivel. Unfortunately the paid guys will always defer to what their legal advice would be & they were not present when an ‘event’ would occur – the other scoutmasters and i were, so we did what was best for the boys. BE PREPARED was the motto in ALL things. that includes carrying.

      • BSA is a great program it really does help build and shape our future leaders.. The scoutmasters in my troop were all former Scouts and include 1 Colonel, 1 Sergeants Major, 2 First Sergeants and a Sargeant First Class … our boys probably got a little more Leadership Training and mentorship then they really wanted and definetly over and above the normal BSA protocol.. probably explains why 7 of our Scouts made Eagle in a two year period..

  38. Responsible for that many kids and often secluded from the mechanics and systems of society? Are you kidding me? Yes of course! (They should also let gays and non-theists be involved.)

  39. Without reading thru all 95+ comments, note that the BSA does teach firearm use and safety, including shotguns and rifles, with live fire activities on a range under NRA-certified RSO oversight. Yet at the same time they prohibit carry on those very same campouts. Weird. Again, probably a liabity thing: they’re ok with shooting during camping as long as it’s on the range under supervision:

    http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/healthandsafety/gss/gss07.aspx

  40. We’re active in Scouting and in BSA’s shooting sports. Our Troop’s charter organization is a rifle range. We shoot all the time and I’m experienced with firearms as a hunter and a professional. My boom-stick cred likely exceeds yours.

    There are sure a lot of fearful people posting in this thread about the loss of your rights and the need to defend yourselves from ravaging bears and hatchet-wielding boys. You won’t like it, but check this out: it’s scared, “gotta have my gun because I’m otherwise unprepared” fearful people that lead to smart policies like this.

    Look at it another way: you personally are so skilled, so smart and have such good judgement that this rule shouldn’t apply to you at all. BSA should see a printout of your postings, and simply exempt you. No problem. But, is everyone out there as magnificent as thee? If not, and on that slight chance, what process do you suggest be used to vett-out who’s competent and safe to carry a firearm on outings, in a process you’d happily pay for, support and then defend when it goes sideways on you. I mean for real, not on the internet where you’re so brave and absolute.

    God Bless America and the Lawyers that founded her. Their descendants still keep us safe from kooks on both sides of the 2nd Amendment.

    • You assume that BSA needs to have any policy at all about leaders lawfully carrying firearms.

      On the whole, you are essentially making the same argument that those opposing carry in schools make. To wit, you are saying “Well, *some* people are chuckleheads, so therefore nobody should have a gun, because we have no way to differentiate the responsible people from the irresponsible people.”

      The fact remains that I have a right to carry a firearm, and a responsibility to safeguard my life, liberty, and property.

      Unless/until there is a documentable reason to deny my rights, then I may not be deprived of them.

  41. I have been a den leader for 4 years and had not carried previously on my person, but was in my vehicle. That being said, this year the established campgrounds are being hit by predators because drought has pushed them towards campgrounds, so I would consider doing what it takes to protect scouts and their families. I would be willing to accept the consequences from BSA if I was burned for shooting a bear or mountain lion that threatened or attacked one of my scouts. I do believe that BSA should allow a limited carry based on regular training and permitting, etc. It’s called being prepared and AZ has plenty of unsavory people and large predators in the desert and woods. No pack or troop is going to stop outings completely because of risk, they will mitigate risk through pre-planning.

  42. I myself am a scout leader. Our troop goes on a lot of remote hiking/backpacking trips. I am aware of the BSA policy but I carry concealed everywhere. It’s called concealed for a reason. I read through some of the comments above about kids swiping the gun from the tent, etc. I think if you are going to carry, you better make damn sure that the weapon and you are never separated. If that means I have to sit out on an activity, or not swim, so be it. I would wear mine to bed at night if that is what it takes to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

    I however would be a little disturbed IF a leader was carrying and they had little firearms training or just bought a gun last week and was carrying it. I am ex-military, an NRA instructor and shoot probably 5,000 rds a month. So I feel confident in my own abilities to handle a firearm safely and competently.

    I’m sure though that some parents would pull their kids out of scouts if they thought a leader had a gun on the trips. Although we do Rifle Shooting Merit Badge, a lot of parents refuse to let their kids participate in that merit badge because of their political beliefs in firearms. Its really a shame because we need to de-mystify firearms for kids so that if they were to ever find one they would know what to do, instead of picking it up and saying “check this out” right?

    • My experience has been that the parents do not pull their kids from the rifle and shotgun merit badge activities regardless of not having guns in their home. However I am in an area that tends to view a gun as a tool and not a moral entity. Also most of our parents are on the conservative side since our sponsor is a conservative church. We attended a week long camp at a Scout reservation that was three hours away. I carried concealed for the drive. When we checked in at the Scout office I offered to check my pistol with the staff to put it in their safe. They said to check it with the rifle merit badge instructor who has a safe at the range. When I got there the range instructor asked to see my carry permit. Satisfied, he said I could put it in the range safe or I could keep it with me. He clearly favored the later and that is what I did. Most Boy Scout camping is done near the parking despite the popular image of hiking being the main activity (it is not). My pistol spent the week locked in the truck. This was a summer camp run by the Council, not a bunch of guys determined to go their own way on the subject. It appears to me that different Councils handle this subject differently depending on the level of gun acceptance/tolerance in their region.

      I have a client who just moved to our fly over city from upstate New York. While shopping in a local WalMart she saw an open carry customer. This freaked her out. She asked me “Do I have to put up with this forever?” While there is some humor in this I have to admit it gets my attention when I see a scruffy guy packing.

  43. To be a good example unless you are camping in the ghetto, you don’t need to pack sidearms at a Cub, or Scout meeting. We have a parent of a member of our pack, who has been open carrying recently at Pack meetings. In a Church meeting room on a Sunday evening, no less. Clearly, a violation of Scouting rules. I feel, that one should at least show the courtesy of the old West and leave their firearms in their saddlebags, or at least the door pocket of their locked, parked, car. Sure, things can happen, anywhere. However, I was travelling in a certain South American country a few years ago, when I felt the hand of death could be nearby at anytime, and as it developed, it was probably safer there, than in some parts of our own country. LEAD, by example.

  44. Much of scouting is still rather pro gun. Scouting is now even considering a handgun merit badge. I am involved in scouting and even based in NYC there are rifle and shotgun activities at our camporee and my troop particpates in the Appleseed program.

    • “Much of scouting is still rather pro gun.”

      The problem is that they’re still a rather fuddish gun culture 1.0.

      Hell, it’s only recently that they decided/clarified that scouts could use .22 rifles with active (read: full) magazines rather than forcing them all to use single round loading adapters.*

      *At least this is what I was told at NCS this spring; I’ll flip through my paperwork to find it in the BSA shooting sports manual.

  45. This is really simple. I’d rather get kicked out for carrying and needing it, than to have an injury, death, etc. because I didn’t have it. I’m a den leader for cub scouts, and I’ve had my pistol with me on every outing. Period. If they find out and kick me out, so be it. I’m a volunteer, and I do it for my son, so no skin off my nose. I know they’re worried about liability, and that’s fine. That’s their choice. I’m worried about my own conscience. I would have a hard time living with myself if one of the kids or other adults suffered some harm just because I was following some dumb rule. It’s only a rule, not a law, so I choose to ignore it. And I know a lot of extreme liberals cause a lot of trouble, but I’d like to speak up for the rest (and the majority at that). I’m a democrat, and I believe in a lot of liberal things, but within reason. For example, I don’t care about people coming to this country, but they shouldn’t get any benefits from the government until they’re citizens and have jobs. And as far as illegal immigration, that isn’t caused by immigrants. That’s caused by people IN THIS COUNTRY giving them jobs. If nobody was hiring them, they wouldn’t come. If you needed money bad enough and knew you could sneak into Canada and make enough money to wire it home to feed your family, you’d do it. But if you knew nobody in Canada would hire you, you wouldn’t sneak in. It isn’t rocket science. Anyway, I’m 100% behind the second amendment. I don’t agree with all the scout’s policies, but I still believe most of what they teach is good for my son. The funny thing is, after a full year of scouting, I’ve not heard the gay issue (or any other “hot topic”) brought up a single time. And all religious stuff is left to the scout, his family and whatever church they belong to. The scouts do at least recognize that faiths differ and it is personal preference, so they simply don’t address it. They have religious “badges” etc you can earn, but you do it on your own. When the honchos get ready to say grace for a meal, they start with “prepare yourself in the way you are accustomed”, meaning pray to whoever or whatever you want, if you want to at all. At the end of the day, the kids are having fun, learning good skills, and learning to be good citizens. They have no idea about all the silly turmoil going on at the so-called “adult” level, and that’s the way it should be.

  46. Here’s where the BSA doesn’t clarify on policy with firearms.

    When Scouts are carrying the colors, the flag and unit flag are next to each other, while flanked by a scout on either side of the colors. The lack of clarification, is if the flanking scouts may carry ceremonial (usually mock) rifles to escort the color guard. NOt once is this clarified.

  47. I’m a scoutmaster, and I carry concealed all the time. I just follow all the safety guidelines, and I keep the firearm on me at all times. I’m also very careful so that none of the boys’ know I have it, so as to keep the temptation away. It’s much more important to me to keep everyone safe, than it is to follow a BSA rule (of which the list just keeps getting longer and longer). Soon enough, there won’t be any point to scouting, as every activity will be deemed too much of a liability. It’s getting more and more ridiculous every year.

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