Guns in National Parks: What you need to know

March 17, 2010, 7:46 am

A change in federal law effective Monday, February 22, 2010, allows firearms in many national parks. There's been much talk about the issue, and much confusion about where firearms are allowed and where they're not. Here's our breakdown of the most important details of the new law:

If you can legally possess a firearm in the state in which the national park in located, you can possess it in that park on and after February 22, 2010. State and local firearms laws vary. It is up to visitors to understand the requirements of federal law and the laws of the states/localities they live in and are travelling to (or through).  More than 30 National Park Service sites, including the Great Smokies, Yellowstone, Death Valley, Glen Canyon, Lake Mead, 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 a list of firearms laws by state, click here.

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.

The same amendment also directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to follow state and local firearms laws in national wildlife refuges.