Twelve days from now, on February 22, 2010, the firearm laws in National Parks will become the same as has existed in Federal Wilderness Areas and National Forests for decades. That is, the laws of the State in which the Park lands are situated will govern.
If it is legal for a particular person to carry a firearm either openly or concealed in that state, so will it be in the Park lands located in that state. Thus, in an open carry state open carry will be legal in the Park. If the state requires a CCW permit for concealed carry it will also be required in the Park.
One caveat should be noted. Federal law still will restrict the carrying of firearms into a “Federal facility.” A Federal facility is anywhere that Federal employees work. So don’t take your gun into the visitors center, or the ranger’s office, or any other facility or building where government workers are stationed. You could be in some serious trouble if you forget.
The usual predictions of blood baths and mayhem are spreading across the land. Here is particularly humorous one: National Park Retirees Caution That Visitors to America’s National Parks Are Likely to See More Guns.
Here is an example:
Yellowstone National Park (WY, MT, ID): In the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, while watching Old Faithful erupt you could be in the company of other park visitors wearing holsters and hand guns. In the evening campfire circle, you may sit next to someone who can legally carry a shotgun or rifle to that special place. Anyone hiking in the backcountry can openly carry guns, increasing the risk to other hikers and park wildlife.
Ah, yes. The backcountry will now be dangerous because decent and law-abiding people will be able to have guns where formerly only criminals had them. And they may be able to protect themselves, as well as others in free-riding mode, from deadly attacks by bears, mountain lions, or other critters.
Another caveat: Shooting an animal will always depend upon later proof satisfactory to Park Rangers that it was justified under the usual standards of self defense. You will have to have had a reasonable fear of death or serious injury. Bare fear is never enough, no matter now much bear fear one may have.
A final caveat: Always file off the front sight of any pistol that is carried for bear defense. Why? So that when the bear takes your pistol away from you and shoves it up your butt it won’t hurt so bad.