On the other side, some of the most passionate gun-rights advocates claim their Second Amendment rights allow them to carry guns anywhere, forgetting that the American landscape is dotted with areas where private guns are prohibited. These include prisons, military installations and most public buildings.
The sensible middle is where this proposal should be debated. The Interior Department should relax firearms restrictions in national parks and refuges because it keeps honest people honest. And because it would prevent otherwise law-abiding gun owners from inadvertently becoming felons simply because they cross a jurisdictional boundary.
I am not at all opposed to the proposal for allowing unconcealed or cased firearms to be transported through National Parks. If that all the DOI is willing to give us, I’ll take it, and will advocate strongly for it. But I wouldn’t discount so readily how inconvenient the ban on concealed carry is for people who have state licenses to do so. The perspective of someone out west might be a bit different than mine.
Out West, the parks are big, and boundaries more apparent. Here the parks are small, and often not readily apparent. I routinely drive through property owned by the Department of Interior, namely Valley Forge National Park, sometimes Hopewell National Historic Site, and on the grounds of Independence National Historical Park. In the last case the street outside these places is technically under authority of DOI, but it also a Philadelphia city street. Am I to cross the street? Or drive around Valley Forge constantly? Going miles out of my way?
Most people who drive through these state rights-of-way are often unaware they are in a National Park. While DOI says they enforce state law on state rights-of-way, there’s always the problem of hitting a deer (a real possibility in Valley Forge), and suddenly finding yourself in violation of federal law because you stopped.
The National Park restrictions on concealed carry a major impediment to those who choose to carry. I would hope sportsmen will get behind the most recent efforts to force DOI compliance with state laws on this matter, and won’t merely support a “middle ground” which will only really benefit them.