A change in federal law effective Monday, Feb. 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 President Obama.
Prior to Feb. 22, firearms have generally been prohibited in
national parks — except in some Alaska parks and those parks that allow
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.