Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today strongly criticized a  proposed rule change, announced by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, that would ease Reagan-era restrictions on carrying loaded firearms in America’s national parks and wildlife refuges.

The following is Senator Feinstein’s statement:

“I never thought I’d see the day when the Interior Department of the United States would allow weapons – including concealed weapons – to be carried freely in our national parks and wildlife refuges. To me, this is appalling, and puts both people and animals at risk.

Today, a sensible regulation is in place in each of America’s 390 national parks. Under this rule, gun owners are prohibited from carrying loaded weapons into parks, although they are free to transport firearms in their vehicles. This rule goes back more than 100 years in some parks, and was applied across the board by President Reagan in 1983.  Decades of experience shows that it works.

Now, with this proposed rule change, the Interior Department intends to dismantle this proven, effective rule. In its place would be a new rule which would say that federal regulations must be aligned with individual state concealed-weapons laws that apply in state parks.

This change makes no sense.  It would create an incoherent, ineffective, and inconsistent patchwork of policies – across the country, and in some places within the same national parks. For example, Death Valley National Park is in California and Nevada. California prohibits loaded and accessible weapons in its state parks. Nevada does not. So which state law would apply at Death Valley National Park?
This sort of inconsistency would be an open invitation to poachers, would be almost impossible to enforce, and would seriously place public safety at risk.

The American public consistently rates our national parks at the top of federal government programs that work well.  There is no need to ‘fix’ a system that our citizens tell us is not broken. I hope we can reverse this next year.”