22 February 2010

Carrying Personal Firearms Now Legal In National Parks

A federal law taking effect Monday may alter the standard checklist for many Americans as they pack to visit their national parks: insect repellent, snacks, hiking boots . . . double-barreled shotgun.

Visitors now can pack heat in any national park from Gates of the Arctic to Everglades, provided they comply with the firearms laws of the park's home state, according to the new law that was passed as an amendment to credit-card legislation.

In some instances, they may carry concealed and loaded firearms, including at campsites in Yosemite Valley, along trails at Yellowstone and at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Gun advocates welcomed the law as overdue, saying firearms are allowed in national forests and other federal lands, many of which are next to national parks.

But opponents say guns don't belong in the nation's highly protected parks, where it remains illegal to fire a weapon or kill an animal and where employees, including most rangers, are unarmed.

The presence of guns, they say, could increase the chance of deadly accidents and up the ante in confrontations between park visitors or between visitors and wildlife.

The law, passed by Congress in May, reverses 94 years of National Park Service policy that generally allowed visitors to transport unloaded, disassembled weapons in the trunks of their cars. It applies not only to national parks, but also to national wildlife refuges.

Weapons won't be allowed in buildings where federal employees work, such as the Statue of Liberty and park visitors centers. But restaurants, hotels and gift shops will be subject to the new gun law. Yosemite's historic Ahwahnee hotel, for example, must allow visitors who are legally entitled to carry weapons to bring them into the building.

Gun-rights advocates are planning to mark the occasion by holding weapon-toting cookouts at Gettysburg, Valley Forge and other parks.
Read the rest of the article at The Los Angeles Times

Via Gawker

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