Skip to comments.Loaded guns now allowed in national parks, wildlife refuges [ Washington State]
Posted on 02/23/2010 11:09:38 AM PST by JoeProBono
Loaded guns are now allowed within Olympic National Park and other national parks and wildlife refuges, under a new law that went into effect this week. Federal law continues to prohibit the possession of firearms in designated federal facilities within national parks, such as visitor centers, offices or maintenance buildings. These places are posted with firearms prohibited signs at public entrances, according to the National Park Service.
Firearms have always been prohibited in national parks, except for some in Alaska and other parks that permit hunting. The law has been that any firearm in a vehicle on national park property must be unloaded and stowed in a case, or dismantled.
Former President George W. Bush pushed the initial legislation in 2008 to change that rule, and it became official in May 2009, when Congress passed it as an amendment to credit-card reform legislation. President Obama signed it into law effective Feb. 22, 2010.
The gun rule change is seen as a victory for advocates of Second Amendment rights and a concern by some who don't see the need to carry firearms in parks unless there is a specific hunting season.
For nearly 100 years, the mission of the National Park Service has been to protect and preserve the parks and to help all visitors enjoy them, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said in a press release. We will administer this law as we do all others fairly and consistently.
Parks, wildlife refuges
People must simply follow the state law where the federal property is located. Some national parks cross multiple state lines. That's not a problem at Olympic National Park or Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
The new law does not change prohibitions on the use of firearms in national parks and does not change hunting regulations. Being allowed to carry a firearm in a national park or wildlife refuge does not come with permission to use it. Again, state laws on gun use also apply.
National wildlife refuges in this part of Washington state include Dungeness, Gray's Harbor, San Juan Islands, Nisqually and the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which includes Flattery Rocks, Quillayute Needles, Protection Island and the San Juan Islands.
'Open carry' state
Washington is an "open carry" state, which means, in brief, that visibly carrying holstered handguns in public is lawful. It is how a handgun is used that may make it unlawful, not how it is carried or that it is being carried, according to Washington State Parks' chief of law enforcement in a report last year to Fort Worden State Park.
In terms of guns in vehicles, Washington state allows someone with a concealed-weapon permit to carry the gun loaded and on his person in his vehicle as long as it is concealed from view from outside of the vehicle. Motorists without a concealed weapon permit must transport the weapon unloaded and locked in a container, according to trooper Krista Hedstrom, Washington State Patrol District 8 public information officer.
State Parks rules
The same state RCW about firearms in general applies on Washington State Parks property, reported Kate Burke, Fort Worden Area Parks manager. People with a concealed-weapon permit may carry firearms concealed on their person when in a state park or other public place in Washington.
Many Washington State Parks rangers are armed. Most national park rangers are not armed.
Now for a little celebration music.
I LIKE GUNS -
Thirty years ago, during a visit to Big Bend National Park, I was privately advised by a park ranger to ensure I had a defensive weapon. The park borders Mexico and has dangerous animals; both four and two legged.
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Are you telling me it was illegal to carry a loaded firearm in the Olympic National Park until now?
LOL! Just kidding. I always left my 4” .357 Magnum at home when I was hiking up there.
I’ll take the chance. If it’s a case of me or a wild animal attacking me, I’ll shoot to kill. If I go to jail, I’ll be alive.
Hand gun may have saved the life of hiker killed by mad goat in Olympic National Park.