New Firearms Law Takes Effect Monday - National parks now subject to state and local firearms laws
WASHINGTON – A change in federal law effective Monday, February 22, allows firearms in many national parks. People who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law can now possess those firearms in the national parks in that state. The new law (Sec. 512 of P.L. 111-24) was passed by Congress and signed last May by the President.
Prior to February 22, firearms have generally been prohibited in national parks – except in some Alaska parks and those parks that allow hunting.
State and local firearms laws vary. Visitors who would like to bring a firearm with them to a national park need to understand and comply with the applicable laws. More than 30 national parks are located in more than one state, so visitors need to know where they are in those parks and which state’s law applies.
“For nearly 100 years, the mission of the National Park Service has been to protect and preserve the parks and to help all visitors enjoy them,” National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said. “We will administer this law as we do all others – fairly and consistently.”
Federal law continues to prohibit the possession of firearms in designated “federal facilities” in national parks, for example, visitor centers, offices, or maintenance buildings. These places are posted with “firearms prohibited” signs at public entrances. The new law also does not change prohibitions on the use of firearms in national parks and does not change hunting regulations.
Park websites have been updated to include links to state firearms laws to help visitors understand the law and plan accordingly.
Sec. 512 of P.L. 111-24, an amendment to the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, also directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to follow state and local firearms laws in national wildlife refuges.