It’s official: Gun owners can now carry concealed weapons in some national parks and wildlife refuges, provided they have a permit and the state they are visiting also allows loaded guns in parks. The ruling overturns a two-decade-old law requiring visitors to national parks to keep their weapons unloaded and inaccessible.
The National Rifle Association lobbied heavily for the rule change, and lauded the Interior Department’s decision.
"We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America’s national parks and wildlife refuges," said Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist.
But retired park service employees and other national park advocates were dismayed by the news.
"Once again, political leaders in the Bush administration have ignored the preferences of the American public by succumbing to political pressure, in this case generated by the National Rifle Association," said Bill Wade, president of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.
"This regulation will put visitors, employees and precious resources of the National Park System at risk. We will do everything possible to overturn it and return to a common-sense approach to guns in national parks that has been working for decades."
The rule will take effect in about 30 days, and though the Obama administration could eventually overturn it, restarting any regulatory change could take a few years.
What do you think about the rule change? Are you in favor of having concealed guns in national parks, or would you like the next president to attempt to overturn the new rule? Let us know in the comments section.