The impending change of rules that would allow national park visitors to arm themselves stands a good chance of being placed in limbo, if not overturned, by legal challenges in the coming weeks and months. But if that doesn't happen, it'll be interesting to see how many gun owners actually follow the rules.
There already have been more than a few concealed weapons permit owners admit on the Traveler that they've carried in the parks before this rule change, so some apparently don't mind bending, if not outright breaking, rules and regulations when it fits them. But what makes that seem even more likely to occur in the not-too-distant future are the guidelines those who arm themselves in the parks will have to follow if the rule change stands.
For instance, here's how the folks at Voyageurs National Park outlined the impending rule change in a release:
Firearms are prohibited on tour boats and within all federal buildings including visitor centers, park headquarters, and the Kettle Falls hotel.
Now, I long ago wondered how lodging concession operators would deal with this rule change, and this release from Voyageurs certainly seems to spell it out: Basically, if you decide to carry a handgun into a national park, you may not carry it into a hotel, a tent cabin (in Yosemite, for example), a restaurant, a visitor center, a gift shop, a warming hut (for those who head to Yellowstone National Park on their snowmobile, skis or snowshoes), or, believe it or not, not even a restroom. And most likely packing on any concessionaire-operated tour bus (ie. the Red Jammers in Glacier or the Yellow Jammers in Yellowstone) will be off-limits, as well.
So, under these prohibitions, will those who carry in the parks be conscientious about running back to the parking lot to store their handgun in their rig when it's time to buy or mail a postcard, time to get a backcountry permit, time to ask directions, time to take a cruise on a park tour boat, time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, time to call it a night, or simply time to answer the call of nature, or will they figure no one will know if they're packing and simply ignore these rules?
Whether you support this rule change or adamantly oppose it, I think everyone can agree, in light of these rules, that going down the rule-making road can be a perilous thing.