Carrying in a national park.

This is a discussion on Carrying in a national park. within the Home (And Away From Home) Defense Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; So.......I'm helping someone prepare for a hiking trip that will travel through Great Smokey Mountains National Park. In researching the gun laws in the park, ...

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Thread: Carrying in a national park.

  1. #1
    Member Array d2jlking's Avatar
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    Carrying in a national park.

    So.......I'm helping someone prepare for a hiking trip that will travel through Great Smokey Mountains National Park. In researching the gun laws in the park, I stumbled onto this page:

    Firearms Q and A - Appalachian National Scenic Trail (U.S. National Park Service)

    Now.....a lot of the questions are helpful, and clarify some important rules. However, as you get to the bottom of the FAQ page, you run headlong into this:


    Q. I am worried that having firearms in national parks will affect the safety of my family and the experience we hope to have. Should I still come?

    A. For nearly 100 years, the mission of the National Park Service has been to protect and preserve the parks and to help visitors enjoy them. The parks belong to all Americans – those who support this new law and those who do not. Our commitment is to enforce the law, enforce it fairly, and to ensure the safety of our visitors, the parks and their resources, while all visitors enjoy these special places.

    Q. My family and I come here to enjoy the peacefulness of the park – why is the National Park Service allowing people to bring firearms?

    A. Firearms are allowed – consistent with applicable federal, state, and local firearms laws – as a result of a new federal law enacted in May 2009.

    Q. I am frightened by firearms and am leaving the park. Can I have my entrance fee refunded? My annual pass refunded?

    A. Park superintendents have the authority to provide a refund if the circumstances warrant it.

    Q. What should I do if I feel threatened by someone with a firearm?

    A. Contact the nearest park ranger or contact the park office and let them know why you feel threatened.

    Q. What should I do if I see someone drinking alcohol who has a firearm?

    A. Contact the nearest park ranger or contact the park office and report what you have seen.

    Maybe it's me, but this seems pretty heavy handed. It strikes me that the NPS is trying to scare people away from firearms. Must the government stick their nose in EVERYTHING?
    "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms."
    Thomas Jefferson

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    I was with BLM for 6 years as a senior field manager. I left because of the weird, liberal anti-gun folks there.

    None of that surprises me. The NPS, BLM, BOR, Fish and Wildlife service (the Dept of Interior) and the Forest Service are filled with them.

    What is worse is that nobody holds them accountable for their actions...they are almost untouchable in what they do.
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    A few years ago I went on a several day canoe trip in the Ozarks (Arkansas). The river ran through a federal park. I called ahead of time to make sure that carry was legal.

    The law allowing carry in parks & federal land was pretty new then. The ranger I spoke to did his best to answer things accurately, and said that yes carry was legal then. I knew that it was supposed to be, but sometimes it takes a while for the rank and file to figure it all out, hence the phone call.

    The ranger indicated to me that they patrolled the area well on horse back (and they did), and that there had never been much call to carry firearms. I told him that I had canoed for years, and wasnt too worried about being armed on the river, but sure didnt want to leave a weapon in my car that would be parked for days.

    THAT he understood perfectly.

    Btw, I have done a bunch of camping in the Smokeys. Great area. The black bears, depending on the area, are numerous, and sometimes cause serious injury. Dont buy into that stuff about how black bears are not dangerous.

    Saying that, I have had them bow in the side of my tent, walk thru camp, etc, and while I have had a pistol readied a couple of times, never had an attack, or cause to use a weapon on them.

    Be darn sure to be careful with things that attract them. Ie no ice chests out of the car when not actively being used, etc.

    Have big fun.
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    Distinguished Member Array svgheartland's Avatar
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    In a National Park, be sure to stick to letter of the law and require that the LEO's of the Park Service do the same in an exchange. Not hard, just stay on your toes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by d2jlking View Post
    Maybe it's me, but this seems pretty heavy handed. It strikes me that the NPS is trying to scare people away from firearms. Must the government stick their nose in EVERYTHING?
    Yes, it does.

    And, yes, they must. It's what they do best. It's in the definition, and (I think) in the Newbies' manual they get when they get minted at the schools.


    Basically, the NatParks code change allows for carry that's consistent with state law, presuming your state doesn't otherwise disallow lawful carry there. So, whatever the obvious fears of the Uncle-based crew administering the parks, I'd treat it little different than walking down one's own street or sidewalk at home. Remain armed; if threatened, respond accordingly; report to the clean-up crew once the violence is done and the perps are down and in need of removal. IMO, very little changes in a park, in that sense. No matter how skittish they happen to be in this first few years since passage of the sanity changes to the fed.code.
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    One thing to add is that any budlding in the park will be fderal and thus no gun at all zone .. But the park it self is fine to carry pre 2009.. Just can not have a gun in most building
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chorizo View Post
    I was with BLM for 6 years as a senior field manager. I left because of the weird, liberal anti-gun folks there.

    None of that surprises me. The NPS, BLM, BOR, Fish and Wildlife service (the Dept of Interior) and the Forest Service are filled with them.

    What is worse is that nobody holds them accountable for their actions...they are almost untouchable in what they do.
    Kind of ironic that they owe their current organizations and employment in no small amount to Teddy Roosevelt, who wouldn't be bothered in the least by honest people being armed.
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    To note, a revision to the law does allow you to carry into non-attached restrooms. Such as say a facility at a scenic overlook. But NOT into a restroom attached to another building, like say a visitor center or lodge.

    My Mother worked as a seasonal administrator at Yosemite and as a kid we spent three summers living in the Valley. (I knew Ansel Adams. ) I can tell you that if you shoot the Rangers pet bears you are going to wish the bear had just eaten you, by the time they are done mauling you!

    That said, I carry, always. I recommend concealed. Remember there are people from all over, most lead sheltered lives. The chance of needing a gun in a National Park is infinitesimal. But there IS crime, there are (very rare) rapes, murders, and animal attacks. People still get lost. A gun may help (3 shots = SOS) you get rescued, or feed you in a real emergency.

    Just be discrete and whatever you do don't carry into a building. The Rangers will not just ask you to leave, they will probably make an example so they have data to get the law repealed.

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    I have been to many National Parks ( Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Crater Lake, Denali, Glacier, Grand Teton, Redwood, Shenandoah, Teddy Roosevelt, Yellowstone and the Badlands ) and the question of carrying a firearm never came up from the Park Rangers, so I didn't bring it up either. At the Badlands in South Dakota, they give a discount to active and retired LEO's. Even with them knowing we were LEO's, they never asked if we were carrying. I guess it all comes down to the person you are dealing with at the time?

    BTW--If anybody is planning a trip to a National Park, I strongly suggest you buy the National Parks Pass. Besides saving you money on the entrance fees, you get to use the express lane at the entrances. It really saves you a lot of time and aggravation.---Sturgis
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    I had the opposite take from reading the FAQs.

    Sounded to me like the NPS is saying people have the right to have guns. If you are that type to freak out because of that then run to the nearest park ranger so you can feel safe. We won't take away their guns but if you want to leave then we may or may not refund your money.
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    It was mentioned earlier in the thread, but a reminder that carry (in accordance with state laws) is allowed inside the national park system, carry inside the (Federal) building in the parks is not allowed! Plan ahead, most restrooms are in the prohibited area, for example as are the park checkin desks.
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  13. #12
    Member Array d2jlking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by De5115 View Post
    I had the opposite take from reading the FAQs.

    Sounded to me like the NPS is saying people have the right to have guns. If you are that type to freak out because of that then run to the nearest park ranger so you can feel safe. We won't take away their guns but if you want to leave then we may or may not refund your money.
    Not sure i agree.....but i love your optimism!!!
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