You are here

Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?


Remember earlier this year all the controversy over a proposed rule change to allow concealed weapons holders to arm themselves in the National Park System? Well, it's still lurking out there.

Some had gotten optimistic that perhaps this effort had been lost in the shuffle in Washington, as the Bush administration focused on things like energy exploration near national parks, opening up public lands to oil-shale speculation, and relaxing clean-air standards.

After all, those optimists noted, there's been all that focus on getting rule changes promulgated 60 days before the Obama administration came to town so it couldn't simply quash rules it didn't favor.

Well, it turns out that Interior Department officials apparently believe the rule change on carrying weapons in national parks and national wildlife refuges won't result in a $100 million impact, and so it only needs to have the rule promulgated 30 days in advance of Team Obama's arrival in Washington. So, more than likely this rule change will resurface before December 20.

That said, it's also likely that a group or two opposed to the rule will sue over its legality, arguing that Interior failed to conduct an environmental impact study on the rule change. Whether this rule change is significant enough to trigger such a study under the National Environmental Policy Act is the curious question at this point.


December 5, 2008
Interior Announces Final Firearms Policy Update
"WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Lyle Laverty today announced that the Department of the Interior has finalized updated regulations governing the possession of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The final rule, which updates existing regulations, would allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if, and only if, the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located. The update has been submitted to the Federal Register for publication and is available to the public on"


You're making assumptions. My "whole life" is not "consumed on the gun issue".

When I was a national park ranger, on ten occasions I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Not part of it. ALL of it. All ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. All articles and sections. As a park ranger, I took that oath seriously, and as a private citizen, I still consider that oath binding.

I have never advocated that people should be able to "pack anywhere and everywhere." You are intentionally misrepresenting my argument, setting up a strawman. Of course the Second Amendment does not apply to private property. It does, however, apply to federal lands. I do not "fan the coals toward more hell bent gun ownership". I don't care if people own guns.

But I do care that the Constitution and its civil rights protections are protected and enforced. Like it or not, it is the law of the land.

Frank C, why is your whole life consumed on the gun issue. It seems like your always splitting hair over the gun arguments to pack anywhere and everywhere. In seeing my first homicide victim (a police officer with family) as a young surgical tech, just made me puke about the NRA and it's overly hell bent gun fanatics. I duly believe in the right of handgun ownership, but kept in the home and in a SAFE PLACE locked up. In fact, I've had two close friends involved in tragic gun accidents: one was showing off his loaded high powered rifle that went off accidently and killing his best friend, and the other, was in the fit of anger, in which brother shoots brother with a Remington 22 rifle (not sure of the type). Unfortunately, the brother that was shot is totally paralyzed from the waist down...and has been for the past 35 years. ALL TRUE TRAGIC STORIES!
Yes, an emotional issue on both sides, but I get the impression Frank, you fan the coals towards more hell bent gun ownership regardless of the carnage that it leaves behind. Just work in the hospital morgue for while on Saturday night (in any big mean City) and see the morass that guns play. The poor ER staff beating their brains out to save some poor innocent victim, or some crazy gang banger. Take real hard look Frank and pray it's not your kid or dear family member. I've had my fill of gun violence and hope that President elect Obama squeezes out more gun regulations and pinches out the NRA.

Interestingly enough, ReasonOnline just posted an article titled The Trouble With Thomas Jefferson which states in part:

Does the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves—probably including his own children—negate the wonderful things he wrote about inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence? To put it another way, why should anyone listen to what Master Jefferson (or other slaveholding Founders) had to say about liberty and equality?

It’s important to remember that the idea of inalienable rights didn’t start or stop in the year 1776. The historian Gordon S. Wood, in his superb 1991 book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, argues that “to focus, as we are apt to do, on what the Revolution did not accomplish—highlighting and lamenting its failure to abolish slavery and change fundamentally the lot of women—is to miss the great significance of what it did accomplish.” In Wood’s view, by destroying monarchical rule and replacing it with republicanism, the American revolutionaries “made possible the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements of the nineteenth century and in fact all our current egalitarian thinking.” They upended “their societies as well as their governments…only they did not know—they could scarcely have imagined—how much of their society they would change.”

The article also provides historical background on Jefferson and the issue of slavery. Highly recommended.

Anonymous, I have refrained from using ad hominem attacks and arguments and would kindly request that you do the same. You might be new to the site and might not know of my repeated condemnation of interest groups and lobbyists, but that doesn't give license to attack or mischaracterize me in an attempt to discredit my argument.

J Longstreet, you are quite right in several regards. I also bet Kurt "gets it" and am willing to guess the topic drives traffic to this site. The comment activity seems to reflect it. Controversy sells.

Kurt, on this thread, I was posting the Founders' sentiments regarding the right to bear arms in response to the assertion of user "VERY knowledgable [sic] of US history" that Second Amendment proponents do not examine the issue in historical context. I've quoted the founders to put the debate in context, because, as Jefferson wrote, "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

As far as slavery, many Founders were against it, especially northerners like Adams. Jefferson, himself a slave owner, wrote to Edward Rutledge, "I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your State, for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it forever. This abomination must have an end. And there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it." He also initially wanted to blame England for slavery in the Declaration of Independence, but that was struck from the draft. Unfortunately, political, social, and financial factors prevented him from freeing his own slaves.

So Jefferson, and many other Founders, did see the justice in freeing slaves. Should we dismiss the entire Constitution, rule of law, and the noble concept of individual liberty because they were postulated by (of course) flawed humans?

I have not read the Supreme Court decision in the DC gun ban case. The Supreme Court is not above reproach, however. It has evolved into a partisan, activist, unelected committee with total disregard for the original meaning of the Constitution's text.

As Lincoln said, "If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court...the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned the government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."


I don't see it as a red herring at all. Here and in comments to other posts about the guns-in-parks issue you've trotted out the Founding Fathers and their intent and that what they viewed more than 230 years ago rings just as true today, or that it should.

If they were so omniscient when it came to bearing arms down through the centuries, how could they not have seen the justice in freeing slaves and giving women the vote?

And beyond that, as I recall the most recent Supreme Court opinion did not in fact uphold one's right to carry a sidearm anywhere they wanted, but restricted that right largely to their homestead, AND held that the federal government was within its rights to restrict where guns could be carried.


I guess there's no getting around it. No matter how many times you raise the issue of HOW the gun regulation is being developed, your readers refuse to discuss process and need to drag up the pros and cons of the issue. Folks, how many times do you have to debate the same issue? Do you actually think you are convincing anyone? It's obvious that NPT readers feel strongly and there are many of you on both sides of this issue. I get it. I'm sure Kurt gets it.

What seems highly pertinent to me, whether or not I agree with the substance of this regulation, is that it is being promulgated -- if, in fact it is going to be promulgated -- in a way that will make it suspect. Every regulation issued at the end of an administration, no matter what the substance, is one that looks like it was hurried through because the administration ran out of time. The best regulations are issued earlier in the four year cycle, so the process they are issued under is above reproach.

Even if you are a fan of this rule, you should be concerned at how and when it may be issued, and the company of questionable rules that are also being issued in these final weeks of the Bush administration. It will taint it and make it that much more likely it will be vulnerable in a lawsuit.

J Longstreet
A national park superintendent

Sounds to me Frank C, just loves to jump on the bandwagon about any issue that favors more guns, or any issue that supports the gung-ho gun lobbyist. But, to be frantically obsessed Frank, I think is bit super overkill on your behalf. Right to bear arms...yes! But, keep your nasty guns and peashooters at home and not in the National Parks. For god sakes come up for air!

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments