Guns Now Legal at National Parks

Government lifts restrictions on firearms

By Tonya LaFleur
|  Monday, Feb 22, 2010  |  Updated 6:30 AM EDT
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Guns Now Legal at National Parks

President Barack Obama with his daughter Malia, and Steve Martin, Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent, look out over Hopi Point as they tour the Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., Sunday, Aug. 16.

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Gun owners, go ahead and pack heat along with that camping gear.

A new federal law goes in effect Monday that makes it legal to carry a firearm in most national parks in the United States

The gun law was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in May.

Under the previous law, firearms were only allowed in some Alaska parks and those parks that allow hunting.

A warning: the new gun law does not override other laws. Gun owners still must abide by local and state gun laws while in national parks.

The National Park Service is emphasizing personal responsibility when it comes to interpreting the ease in gun restrictions.

“The current law that exists in Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and West Virginia all is the same,” said Bill Line, a spokesperson for the National Park Service.

“Residents of each of those jurisdictions have the responsibility -- have the duty -- to know and to educate themselves as to what those laws are,” Line added.

There are still some parts of national parks where guns won’t be allowed.  Firearms must be kept out of any indoor buildings including visitor centers, offices and maintenance buildings. To avoid confusion, parks have posted “firearms prohibited” signs at public entrances.

Ask a National Parks worker if you are unsure about how the gun laws apply in your area.

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