Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks

Interior Department officials on Tuesday published in the Federal Register a proposed regulation that would allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons.

Moving at a politically expedient speed, Interior Department officials are proposing to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons with them.

Whereas the National Park Service has been dragging its feet on endorsing Glacier National Park's decision not to allow a railroad to use explosives to control avalanche danger, Interior moved practically at light speed in proposing the gun language. Put up for limited review today, it will formally be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, barely two months after Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne decided to open up the regulations for possible recasting.

"This is truly changing the culture of the National Park Service in literally one stroke of a pen," says Kristen Brengel of The Wilderness Society.

The proposed regulation calls for a 60-day comment period, but there was no mention of plans for public hearings on the change. Interior Department officials were not immediately available to comment on the proposal.

The highly controversial change has been opposed by seven past Park Service directors, the Association of National Park Rangers, the Ranger Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The coalition wasted no time in criticizing the proposed regulation.

"We think the proposed rule is manufactured and driven politically to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Data show that parks are among the safest places to be in this country. Moreover, we believe it will create more problems than it can possibly fix," said Bill Wade, who chairs the group's executive council. "It is likely to alter, over time, the friendly atmosphere visitors look forward to in parks, where they go to get away from the day to day pressures and influences of their everyday lives, including worry about guns.

"How many visitors want to be concerned about whether the person next to them during a ranger-guided walk, or that shares a backcountry campsite, has a concealed, loaded gun? Reliance on impulsive use of guns in the face of perceived threats or disputes, such as in campgrounds will increase the risk to visitors and employees," continued Mr. Wade. "Impulsive uses of guns in response to being startled by or by perceived threats from wildlife will increase the risks to wildlife and to visitors, such as from wounded wildlife or shots fired at wildlife, such as in campgrounds, that miss and connect with nearby campers.

"Administrative requirements related to this rule in parks will become complicated. Issues of reciprocity of authorities for guns between states will have to be sorted out. Decisions about how to keep guns out of administrative and concession buildings will involve signing, further cluttering the developed areas; and potentially even security screening. The existing regulation works just fine, and has for decades. This is a proposed rule that deserves to be shot down!

At The Wilderness Society, Ms. Brengel said the "argument for revising the regulation seemed poorly thought out and rather short."

"So, you can carry a gun as long as the state allows concealed weapons and the analogous state lands allow for possession," she said. "And this is supposed to clear up confusion? Or, is it supposed to create confusion?"

Indeed, there are a number of national parks that cross state boundaries. Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Death Valley, and the Blue Ridge Parkway come immediately to mind. The proposed regulation made no allowance for how rangers were to police the various gun laws in those parks.

While the proposed regulation said DOI officials were uncertain whether a review under the National Environmental Policy Act would be required, Ms. Brengel thought a thorough review was necessary.

"Rather than directly addressing potential harm to wildlife, the agencies didn’t even mention poaching, off-season hunting, and other possible problems with this proposal," she said. "The public deserves to know if Park Service professionals, not political appointees, think there will be impacts to cherished wildlife and hunting opportunities due to this change in the rules."

If the decision to make guns more available in national parks stands, it will be interesting to see not only how it impacts domestic visitation to the parks, but also international tourism in light of how many other countries view America's pervasive gun laws.

Somewhat curiously, in light of the building debate over how this change would impact national parks, comments on the proposed regulation are being directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose lands also would be open to concealed carry under this change.

A copy of the Federal Register notice is attached below. Comments are being directed to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: 1024-AD70; Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, Virginia, 22203.

Secretary Kempthorne's decision to consider concealed carry in national parks came in the wake of lobbying by the National Rifle Association, which got U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, to introduce legislation that would overturn the current regulations, which allow weapons to be transported through parks as long as they're broken down and stored out of easy reach.

Additionally, roughly half of the Senate's 100 members wrote to the Interior secretary asking him to reconsider the regulations.

Somewhat ironically, the current regulations were adopted by the Reagan administration. A much earlier version of the regulation was established in 1936 to prevent the poaching of wildlife, and was included in the Park Service’s first general regulations adopted after the creation of the agency in 1916.

In opposing a change, the seven former Park Service directors told Secretary Kempthorne in a letter that, "Informing visitors as they enter a park that their guns must be unloaded and stowed away puts them on notice that they are entering a special place where wildlife are protected and the environment is respected both for the visitor’s enjoyment and the enjoyment of others."

"While most gun owners are indeed law-abiding citizens, failure to comply with this minimal requirement can be a signal to rangers that something is wrong," the letter continued. "Removing that simple point of reference would seriously impair park rangers’ ability to protect people and resources, and if necessary manage crowds."

Signing the letter were former NPS directors Ronald Walker (1973-75), Gary Everhardt (1975-1977), George Hartzog (1964-1972), James Ridenour (1989-1993), Roger Kennedy (1993-1997), Robert Stanton (1997-2001), and Fran Mainella (2001-2006).

DOI-Proposed Gun Reg.pdf28.75 KB


No. You spray your buddy by mistake in a panic attack and are lunch for the bear.

People are already carrying concealed weapons, getting rid of this rediculous law just makes it legal. 2nd ammendment Duh!

It's simple Dave, National Parks are NOT immune to crime. If they were, there'd be no argument.

have any of you people seen the movie Deliverance? nuff said if you have


You ever seen "The River Wild"?

Rick Smith

Ah, "The River Wild". I haven't seen it since 1994, but isn't it about a pair of armed robbers who have a gun (probably WITHOUT a concealed weapons permit) and hijack a rafting boat? The boat guides are unarmed (by choice or by law, we don't know), and one tries to steal the gun from the criminals while they're asleep, but the criminals wake up and shoot at him. Seems like there's just one cop for miles and miles, and he ends up getting killed by the criminals. The situation is resolved when the protagonist struggles for and gains control of the gun and shoots the bad guy.

If the good guys had concealed weapons (and corresponding permits), they could have forced the bad guys to give up their weapon rather than trying to sneak away from the armed bad guys.


You missed my pointa--"The River Wild" has as little to do with this debate than does "Deliverance".

Rick Smith

Erik. you stated that a person in front of you told the clerk he had a permit, and then showed the clerk a gun, one, that is called brandishing and you should have called the cops on him. If he was a legal CHL holder, he would lose it and go to jail PERIOD. I have multiple CHL's and am able to carry legally in 33 different states. All people in order to get a CHL must pass a federal background check and have your finger prints placed on file. There are very few people that know I carry and I want it that way and it should always be that way. I can count on my hands how many people know, and all but 2 are direct family members. People that carry have many things to think about to protect them selves from litigation, gun type, caliber, bullet type just to name a few. This is not because you want that "Dirty Harry" gun, it is because if you do not and you do defend yourself some lawyer is going to tear you apart for it not matter what.

There are clear faults in the original arguments, people with CHL are not gun nuts, they are not going to hunt out of season nor use a pistol for this. When I carry, I am there to protect my wife and myself. I am not a police officer, nor do I want to be. If you think that no one in the parks carry a gun, think again the person that does most likely does not have a permit and would not stop no matter what.

The fear that Mr Wade talked about is just a fear tactic used to scare people into one view or another. Here is a fact that he would not tell you,
states with legal CHL have lower crime rates that states that do not allow concealed carry. Washington DC enacted a ban on hand guns to lower the crime rate, in the 20+ years that law was in effect, the crime rate went up. Criminals do not care about gun laws, tell me one gang banger in DC that thinks, "I better not do this for they do not allow guns here".

When going to court a criminal has more rights than the gun owner he was intending to rob. There are many cases to prove this. A few states have Castle laws, that state if you use a gun to defend yourself, and the police determine it to be justified you are protected from all law suits against you. I am glad they have made this law, it is an easy law to follow which the article tries to make it sound so difficult. So here it is,

1) Are you in a state that allows CHL's to be issued? YES (go to question 2) NO, don't bring a gun into the National Park (NP)
2) Do you have a Valid CHL for the state for the NPS you are going to be in? YES, Welcome have a great day. NO-Don't bring your gun into the NP

The sign is easy and would not cost that much for the parks (misinformation). Placed at each entrance "Firearms are not permitted in National Park unless you have a current and valid permit to do so, any violation can result in a fine and/or Jail time"

Lone Hiker - There are always going to be people that pull a gun and are willing to shot, but I would rather be defending myself about killing a person that was in my house, or pulled a knife on me or my wife to harm us than to be the victim in a murder trial. I hike when I can, and carry every time, this is to protect me from some animals that are out there, and that it is not uncommon to run into in Oregon and I do not want to be bear food. When I lived in California, I would carry no matter what when I was hiking, for people grow pot in the forest lands and you have no clue when you might walk up on one, and be faced with a situation that you did not want to be in.

Having a CHL is not for everyone, legally able to get one or not. It takes the mental ability to fire and kill a person if you are in imminent danger. If you are not mentally ready for this, then having a gun or any defensive firearm it not right for you. I carry because I value life, yes I said value, and the one that I value most is my wifes and myself. I want to see the sunrise and if it comes down to someone that means me or my wife harm, then that person will miss something truly worth seeing and I will get a good night sleep, knowing that tomorrow I get to see my wife.

Rangers attempting to investigate the episode - and who wisely went armed - were forced to kill two aggressive bears while trying to retrieve the bodies and personal effects. Even armed to the teeth, the rangers "were cutting it thin" to escape being attacked themselves, according to Park Ranger Joel Ellis. Ellis reportedly had to fire 11 rounds from a semi-automatic handgun to bring down one attacking animal, as two colleagues stood by with shotguns at the ready.

No firearms reportedly were found at Treadwell's campsite. They're prohibited in this part of the Katmai, as they are in all national parks in the lower 48.

NoGunsInParks your link all but supported the reason to carry guns here is a clip from it

"But had the bear enthusiast the inclination and legal right (and with all due respect, the common sense) to venture into bear country with a more effective means of self-defense than a camera tripod, perhaps he and his companion would be alive.

There's always a "perhaps" in such cases. The mere possession of a firearm is no guarantee it will save anyone in every possible eventuality. In the wilderness, much depends not only on having the means to defend oneself, but also the opportunity and know-how. So there's no guarantee that packing a rifle or handgun would have saved Treadwell and friend.

But had he elected to do so, he would have been breaking the law - which just doesn't make sense in this and similar circumstances. And the fact that some people don't have the desire or inclination to arm themselves in self-defense isn't a reason why everyone else should be denied that right and opportunity in a national park."

As a CCW holder, I completely agree with the right to carry anywhere and see no reason national parks should be exempt from the right to carry!
CCW holders have to pass background checks for both the state they have registered in, and the federal government. There's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be allowed to carry anywhere.
Why should I have to pull over, take my gun out, unload it, lock it and the bullets away, then continue just to go into or through a park? Just because I have it doesn't mean I'm going to shoot an animal with it. It's for protection, not for poaching!
The individuals to worry about are those who are carrying illegally! Those who do not get a CCW because they do not pass the requirements, due to having already been arrested for breaking the law or for unlawfully using a firearm in the past. They will be carrying in the national park regardless of whether this law exist or not! The only protection a person has at that point is his/her self or the national park service rangers who are few and far between.

As a Liberal, I disagree with Bush 95+% of the time. However, I like this regulation change. I believe in all the Bill of Rights, not just those that are supported by the left or right. You are also fooling yourself, if you think that people aren't already bringing concealed weapons into National Parks for self protection. Another misconception I hear is that gun owners are looking for a fight. I think the reverse is true. Every CCW holder knows that if they use their weapon to protect themselves they could still face some legal and certain civil repercussions even if it is for self defense.

I am a father of a 7 and a 9 year old daughters and CCW permit holder. When I go camping, I am always thinking of how to avoid confrontation with other campers and animals. I am more concerned about people than animals. If the lives of my family are seriously threatened, I intend to ensure they walk away alive. It is better to be judged by 12, than have your child carried by 6.

The RIGHT to bear arms should not be restricted . Be it in a park or mall or at work..
You damned Democrats will never give up until the phrase "only criminals own guns" become a reality and no one can defend themselves or their loved ones from the violence YOU CAUSED.
40 out of 50 states have proven again and again, when citizens can defend themselves, violent crimes decrease significantly. When are the rest going to figure this out?

Productive members of society that choose to carry concealed weapons to ensure their safety and well-being should not be labeled criminals by you democrats.

are you?

I am 24 years old, VA resident. I was gun shooping around Thanksgiving 08. I was asking a myriad of questions (as I often do when pursuing something new). The gun dealer told me a story that him and his son (10 years old) went camping. They saw a relatively small bear and it began to charge the boy. The father fired a warning shot over the bear's head to scare it away, it continued to charge the child. The father unloaded a full magazine of 10mm rounds into the bear. The bear died. POINT 1, that is why people, not necessarily "need to", but should be able to, carry guns in a National Park. POINT 2, had the gun slinging camper not had his weapon, his son's world would've come to an end. If a National Park allows guns to be carried, there are still state laws that surround the park that will regulate who can and cannot carry a gun. It won't be a free for all, guns and their owners will still have to adhere to strict guns laws. The politicians are simply upholding our second ammendment rights. Believe me when that bear is charging you in the woods, you'll want that gun in the hands of a trained and willing citizen.

What are you going to shoot it down with if you can't take a gun into the park?

Concealed Carry holders are some of the most law abiding most checked "civilians"in the country. It is amazing that the anti-gun folks really seem to believe that since it was illegal to carry a gun that people did not carry a gun. Now the law abiding citizens can carry as well. You can carry concealed in 48 states. Millions of people across the country legally carry concealed everyday. A despite the constant fear mongering of the anti-gun crowd every place that allows reasonable access to concealed carry has seen a REDUCTION in crime. The myth that these people carrying guns are going to snap and shoot someone over a parking place has not happened. The myth that the police will not know the difference between a concealed carry holder and a criminal has not happened. It is has not turned into the "Wild West" with blood running in the streets like the anti-gun crowd promised. It is also a fact that the places in this country that are the most gun restrictive, are also the most violent. All of these facts can be confirmed and I would ask all of the anti-gun crowd basing their opinions on emotion and ignorance to learn more about what they are blindly opposing.

I don't necessarily agree with the "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" concept, I think most of those arguing against the new proposal are kidding themselves about what would happen. Does anyone doubt that some people have been "packing" in national parks for years? Have any of you ever been frisked? I haven't, and I'm not convinced that the change will lead to more irresponsible gun carriers - they're already there.

Just my opinion, of course.

don't ask me... inner city chicago is a sewer to me. lots of crime and lots of poor upbringing and bad examples or no examples in alot those families. however, this has nothinng to do with the issue. whether you are pro or anti gun sums up most peoples response on this issue. ..but it shold not be about that. The question must be... if it is legal to carry in a state, what is the reason for not allowing it in the park. In this scenario... fear of irrational people does not fit... because these are the same people allowed by law to carry all over the rest of the state. There is no real environmental impact as the concealed weapons can not be fired unless in self defense or actually even displayed. I know the parks department is against it and I also personally know the heads of the departments are also against concealed carry carry in general... yet it is the legal in almost every state subject to each what is the argument for not allowing it to be state regulated...the only reasonable argument outside of who feels the right to carry is a true right and those who think they should be gone as much as possible... is multi jurisdictional parks... which I am sure can be easily worked out....hell in case of two different states with different policy... agree to not allow them in multi state parks. I do not care... but make a good arguement ... all i hear is the same old speech. I do not own a firearm.. but even I can see the lack of an argument. they need a reason why it should be less legal in the parks... and fear of rampant poaching doesn't seem to work.... poaching will ocur at the same rate as always. I recall the same warnings of massive violent crime increases with concealed carry legal. hahahaha!! I love when people spread idealogy by spreading fear.... please. hahaha!

When I was young..... my dad used to take me out hiking for long 3 or 4 day weekends. We used to hike in for an entire day and never see anyone. I haven't gone in years. I have recently decided to start going again with my son. I also remembered my father used to carry a little revolver in his hip bag. I only saw it acouple times... he called it his snake shooter... we have some fairly poisonous snakes around here. I always assumed it was for overall protection of the family. Long story short, I never thought twice about it and I purchased one for my outings. I was very surprised to find the issue in such in uproar. I guess it where you are from and how you were raised. fearful or not fearful of firearms. I agree. maybe people who are against them are just generally against them in all circumstances. I just always seemed unprepared not to have it. a compass, utility knife, water, rations. Were not all picnic basket carrying all wheel drive station wagon park people. some of us could actullay live off the land if we needed to and sometime choose to on occasional weekends. I do not see this creating anymore confusion than the overally politically interested people

I never met Timothy Treadwell, but I am quite familiar with the area and circumstances relating his and his companion' demise. Personally, I consider Treadwell's fate the outcome of a death wish. From any objective perspective, Treadwell's behavior was bizarre and self destructive. He did almost everything wrong in re: to his interaction with bears. He literally set up himself and his friend for a fatal attack. Being armed would not have changed the outcome. I once encountered an individual camping at a site on the Katmai coast. He had established a long-term camp in a location with intensive bear activity. There was a resulting buildup of human waste and other debris around his camp. I informed him that he had to move the camp and clean up the mess. Fortunately he decided to leave. You might be interested to learn that park visitors and brown bears regularly interact at close quarters in the park, including the primary developed visitor facility, Brooks Camp. Visitors to Brooks River are not permitted to carry personal firearms, even though bears may approach them within a few yards. This facility would likely have to close if park visitors were permitted to carry personal weapons and to use them at their own discretion.

Interesting artical the what if's are unsupported though. People can have a gun in thier car now as long as it meets the unassecable requiremnets so the illegal uses such as poaching or commiting a crime has been able to happen for many a year,so thats not a reasonable grip....In all places that concealed carry is allowed crime has went down...."The proposed regulation made no allowance for how rangers were to police the various gun laws in those parks". they don't need to be an allowance either you posses a permit thats allowed in that state or you don''s policed just like a driver's licenes......."How many visitors want to be concerned about whether the person next to them during a ranger-guided walk"....people are around you everyday in most the US that carry...The Park would be no different.......The number of people entering the park want be effected at I said they are around people carrying every day already..."Impulsive uses of guns:....the people that carry just have to access the weapon,and load it to use it anyway,it would take a couple of minutes longer is the only difference, so this is another unjustified what if.....if your going to be against something you should have real reasons instead of blow out of porportion what ifs

If you were a woman who had been gang raped you would understand the need for concealed carry. No one is safe anywhere on this planet, and as long as I know there are people out there willing to hurt me for there own gain, or pleasure I will always push for the right to bare arms and the right to carry them concealed for my personal protection. It is a right I want to see extended to all National Parks.

Jewelee, there is no way I could possibly understand the trauma of rape. I have known rape victims, but that certainly does not make me an expert on the issue. I have had verbal threats to my life, had a plane that I flew sabotaged with the intent of causing loss of control after takeoff and have been attacked and injured by an individual high on meth. Prior to retirement I held a law enforcement commission and am trained in the use of firearms for self protection. I support the right to own legal firearms. However, I feel no need to carry a concealed firearm for personal protection, and I cannot support the carrying of concealed sidearms in national park settings.

The word "is" coming to end! Because of fools like yourself! If you don't want to be able to protect yourself and your family from crazies or wild animals then so be it. Survival of the fittest or shall we say the smartest!

Thats what we say about you! LMAO!