Loaded-gun ban lifted for national parks

Holders of concealed-weapon permits will be allowed to carry loaded guns into national parks and monuments under rules issued Friday by the Interior Department.

The new rules, which go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, will allow individuals to carry loaded weapons in a park or monument if they hold a concealed-weapons permit for the state in which the park is located.

Federal officials began looking into the rule change earlier this year, when 41 Senate Republicans and nine Senate Democrats, including Ken Salazar, wrote to the Interior Department, asking for a change in the current rules.

Outgoing Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., also sought the rule change.

Rules now require that firearms be unloaded and placed somewhere that is not easily accessible, such as in a car trunk.

Salazar said through his Washington, D.C., office that the new rule is “sensible.”

Opponents of the measure, however, said it will expand the risk to visitors, wildlife, artifacts and National Park Service personnel.

“The national parks were established as special places where the public can get away from the pressures and threats in their everyday lives,” said Bill Wade, president of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. “Now this rule makes the national parks a little more like every place else.”

The National Rifle Association welcomed the new rule, saying it recognized the “right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families” while in the national parks.

Interior officials expect publication in the Federal Register on Tuesday or Wednesday, meaning the rule will be adopted on Jan. 8 or 9, Interior spokesman Chris Paolino said.

The rule won’t affect gun bans in federal buildings, or national icons such as Independence Hall and the Statue of Liberty. Guns also will be banned in visitor centers and other buildings at national parks and monuments.


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