Second Amendment Rights on National Park Land (Rep. Rob Bishop)

This week's reversal of outdated laws that prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to carry a concealed firearm while visiting national parks and wildlife refuges was a historic step toward protecting Second Amendment rights.

Over the last 30 years, a significant number of states have passed laws allowing citizens to legally carry concealed firearms. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have long been governed by state gun laws without problem. However, the National Park Service (NPS) failed to recognize the second amendment laws and for years banned firearms on NPS land.

This legislation ensures that unelected government bureaucrats cannot override the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens on National Park System and Fish and Wildlife land in states permitting concealed firearms.

Citizens will now have the ability to access national park lands without being subject to antiquated federal laws.

After years of fighting for this important legislation, I am thankful that my Democrat colleagues recognized that we are long overdue to bring continuity to state and federal Second Amendment laws.

Those truly benefiting from this legislation is citizens like Damon Gettier, a businessman, Army veteran and concealed weapons permit holder under Virginia law, who was convicted of violating Park Service gun restrictions. The Blue Ridge Parkway, widely used as a highway in Virginia, also serves as a scenic overlook in the Shenandoah National Park. Some of the most heavily traveled roads in Virginia, such as the George Washington Parkway, are managed by the Park Service. In fact, it would take a lot of careful planning to drive through the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. without crossing a Park Service road. No signs warn drivers, and given the volume of traffic on these roads, the regulations were essentially unenforceable except for an unlucky few. To show just how unjust the situation is, the federal judge who Mr. Gettier appeared in front of confessed that he himself had no idea it was unlawful to have a firearm in his car in a National Park and he himself had broken the law several times. Nevertheless, Mr. Gettier was penalized.- Ranking member of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands

More in Legislation

NRA chief presses Congress on concealed-carry bill

Read more »