Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today strongly urged Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to not ease Reagan-era restrictions on carrying loaded firearms in America’s national parks and wildlife refuges.

“I was appalled to learn that the Interior Department may relax a Reagan-era ban on carrying loaded firearms in national parks that has been in place for 25 years,” Senator Feinstein said.

“Changing these regulations would invite poaching, be very difficult to understand and enforce, and put the public at serious risk.”

“Our national parks are public treasures. Millions of families and young children enjoy the majesty of these incomparable destinations every year. Allowing loaded weapons would only mar the experience and bring unnecessary danger to our national parks.”

Secretary Kempthorne recently announced that the department is studying the possible relaxation of regulations that currently ban the carrying of loaded firearms at America’s 390 national parks. These changes would likely involve aligning federal regulations with the gun laws of the various states.

This would create unique problems, particularly at national parks that sit in more than one state, including:

  • Death Valley National Park, which sits in California and Nevada. California prohibits loaded and accessible firearms in its state parks, but Nevada does not. It is unclear which state law would apply at this park if the current regulations are changed.

Under current federal regulations, gun owners are prohibited from bringing loaded weapons into the parks. However, they are allowed to safely transport them.

These restrictions have been in place at some national parks for more than 100 years. They were formally applied to all national parks and wildlife refuges in 1983 under President Reagan.

“These regulations have worked well for more than a quarter-century,” Senator Feinstein said. “Changing them makes no sense. It would only create an incoherent and ineffectual patchwork of policies – at the expense of public safety. It is a bad idea.”