Three state Conundrum


January 15, 2009, 03:16 PM

Yellowstone National Park officials say disentangling disparate concealed-weapons laws of three states has left unanswered questions about implementing a Bush administration rule that began allowing guns in the park last week.
The rule gives gun owners permission to carry concealed loaded weapons as long as their concealed-weapons permit is recognized by the state in which the park is located.
The problem is that Yellowstone stretches across three states – Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – and those states’ gun laws don’t jibe. For starters, the three states don’t recognize the same out-of-state permits.
Idaho has the least stringent reciprocity laws and recognizes permits from just about anywhere. Montana recognizes permits from 40 states, and Wyoming recognizes permits from only 23 states.
Theoretically, a person with a concealed-weapons permit from West Virginia could enter the park with a gun under his jacket on trails from the Bechler region in Idaho legally. But he would break the law once he stepped across the state line into Wyoming.
If he made it up just a few miles north of Mammoth, Montana state law would recognize his permit as valid, and the weapon would be legal again.
“Certainly, the bulk of Yellowstone is in Wyoming,” said Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash. But “we do have the Montana and Idaho issues we have to deal with.
“It’s a bit challenging, because we do have to look at how the laws in three states work for us. Our staff at the moment is looking to make sure that we understand what’s common in all of those and what is unique.”
Nash said each state also has other regulations that come into play. For instance, Wyoming state law says that firearms cannot be carried into a place where alcohol is served. In Montana, a person is not allowed to carry a concealed weapon if he or she is intoxicated.
Not only that, but the feds have their own rules and regulations. One prohibits guns in federal buildings or facilities, but just what constitutes a federal facility isn’t clear.
“A visitor center is an easy one,” Nash said. “Our administration building is another easy one. It’s not clear to us at this point ... [if] every structure would be classified as a federal facility even though we own it.”
The uncertainty extends to concessionaires too. Is a building still a federal facility if it is run by a private company?
Correspondence from regional National Park Service officials obtained by the Jackson Hole News&Guide indicates that the confusion goes all the way to Interior Department officials in Washington, D.C.
In a letter to Park Service employees, Intermountain Regional Office official Kathy Clark wrote that lawyers from both the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior are “continuing to consult on the definition for ‘federal facility,’” according to a Jan. 8 e-mail.
“There have been questions brought forward as to just how things like tour boats and amphitheaters fit into the equation.” the e-mail said. “DOI is still developing guidance on the firearms rule.”
The problem isn’t unique to Yellowstone. A number of parks straddle state lines, including Death Valley National Park (California and Nevada), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina) and Lake Meade National Recreation Area (Nevada and Arizona).
Bush Administration officials touted the new gun rule as a way to make things simple and consistent for park employees and visitors, according to Bill Wade, chairman of the executive council of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. But so far, the rule has only resulted in chaos, he said.
“It’s now become very, very confusing for people who might be transporting firearms from one state to another,” he said. “And, if they have a legal permit from one state, they’re going to have to do a lot of research,” to find out if that permit is valid in the park they are visiting.
Wade said the prohibition against guns in federal buildings will be particularly hard to enforce.
“Is the Park Service going to have to place metal detectors at the entrances of buildings?” he asked. “Is that really the kind of thing that public wants to face in national parks?”
Wade said park law enforcement officers now will likely use extra caution when approaching park visitors.
“Law enforcement rangers are going to have to be much more careful and much more suspicious,” Wade said. “It just takes away a little bit from that specialness that national parks have been accorded for years and years and years.”
George Durkee, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police’s Ranger Lodge, called the new gun rule “pretty close to a nightmare.”
“At the moment it is a confusing mess, and I don’t think that is going to change,” he said, explaining that rangers in Yellowstone will have to sort through too much information to determine whether a park visitor is carrying his or her concealed weapon legally. “There’s just no way, you just can’t remember that stuff.”
Nash said the primary concern for Yellowstone’s law enforcement officers is communicating with visitors about the new rule.
“We don’t want visitors to be under the impression that there is now hunting in the park or that they can carry a loaded rifle with them,” he said.
“It’s not that we’re going to be dealing with issues that local and county law enforcement agencies haven’t dealt with,” Nash continued. “But it is something that we haven’t dealt with in the past. It’s likely to take a little time for us to ensure that we’re clear on this.”
Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said her park doesn’t have to deal with the same three-state questions as Yellowstone, but the law still presents some new challenges.
“There’s a little bit of finesse,” she said. “Anyone who is exercising their right absolutely needs to know the rules and regulations of the state they are in. We honestly don’t know how this will affect the daily law enforcement operations at this point.”
“The previous rule worked fine,” Skaggs continued. “It seemed to be a practical approach and a very workable rule that was in effect until now. We didn’t have a lot of visitors who felt like they were being unduly put upon by the rule.”
Rachel Parsons, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said gun owners are aware of the differences in laws among states.
“Currently, gun owners are responsible for researching the gun laws within the states they are traveling, and that would be no different under this rule,” she said. “We’re talking about law-abiding folks. They’re very aware of the differing state laws.”
The National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees filed a lawsuit against the measure in Washington, D.C. District Court last week.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence filed a similar lawsuit Dec. 30.


I find the Answer Simple! Every one who Carries Knows the the Laws of the state they plan on Being in. This is no different than Traveling Now, But the confusion does give Ammo for the Brady Camp among others. There case should be Easily Defeated in Supreme Court.

One thing I am still not shure of, not have seen the Final Rule in print from the DOI is, If it states that state laws apply in Parks then OC would be Legal in all three States. From what Ive Read of the wording of the rule change the words around "Concealed Carrying" are Examples of the new rules.

IF I am Correct in my assumption that all state Laws will Prevail in National Parks. Then a Person From West Virginia as stated in Article Could Simply Uncover his Firearm (OC) Legally in all three states.

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January 15, 2009, 06:54 PM
The National Park ruling only allows concealed carry. It does not allow open carry.

January 15, 2009, 07:50 PM
The National Park ruling only allows concealed carry. It does not allow open carry.

Not really. If your opinion is correct than the rule also prohibits carrying an unloaded or inoperable firearm.

I suggest you read the language of the specific rule.

Here's a post I made in another forum which further describes this:

Yep. You can carry in Alabama Natl. Parks come Jan. 9.

News release:
Final rule:

Whether you can carry unconcealed is another question which unfortunately does not have a readily available answer.

Here is the existing code section as well:

From a pure literal interpretation, it means that you may only carry a "concealed, loaded, and operable" firearm. If you were to carry, say, a concealed, unloaded or inoperable firearm it would be illegal as that hasn't been exempted and the unloaded or inoperable firearm must be in a case or disassembled in your vehicle.

I think a more reasonable interpretation is the comma separations are a list of things that you can now do, in no specific combination

January 15, 2009, 08:05 PM
I think there is great Leway in the Wording. It does not specificaly say NO OC. It does say "Acording to state Law several times!

January 15, 2009, 08:34 PM
Sounds like a great argument for a national right to carry law to me! Oh well, I can always dream. Maybe in '12...

January 15, 2009, 09:47 PM
I don't understand what the confusion is about. The wording is very specific. It says:
Part 2 of Title 36 Section 2.4(h):
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Chapter, a person may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms within a national park area in accordance with the laws of the state in which the national park area, or that portion thereof, is located, except as otherwise prohibited by applicable federal law.

What part of concealed is not understandable? You have two choices. You can carry your gun concealed in accordance with state laws, in which case it may be loaded and operable also; or, you can carry your gun however else you choose to carry it (openly or concealed), so long as it is not loaded and not operable or accessible.

Every single time where you see the final ruling mentioning loaded and operable, it also mentions concealed right along with it.

But, to each his own, if you want to try it out and carry a loaded and operable firearm and not conceal it as well, more power to you.

Additionally, from the Department of Interior's Website:
Interior Announces Final Firearms Policy Update
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Lyle Laverty today announced that the Department of the Interior has finalized updated regulations governing the possession of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The final rule, which updates existing regulations, would allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if, and only if, the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located. The update has been submitted to the Federal Register for publication and is available to the public on

Again, what part of concealed is not understandable?

January 15, 2009, 10:31 PM
a person may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms

How about we tackle the first part.

a person may possess, carry, and transport

This means I may possess or carry or transport a firearm. I don't have to do all three. I could transport a firearm, say in a vehicle, but then I would not be carrying it.

concealed, loaded, and operable

Similarly this means I may possess, carry, and transport a firearm that is concealed or loaded or operable. This follows logically from the earlier construction in the sentence.

In addition, despite the semantic so-called 'ambiguity', the sentence 'just don't make no sense' if interpreted to prohibit unconcealed carry. That is, if unconcealed carry is illegal, than unloaded and inoperable carrying of the firearm is also illegal, since all, not some, of the conditions must be met.

January 15, 2009, 10:50 PM
We've both made our interpretations. If you feel good about open carry in the National Park, go for it!

January 15, 2009, 10:56 PM
I'd also like to point out that the press release is irrelevant as well. It points out that 'Authorized Individuals' may carry the firearm, when in fact the regulation simply says in accordance with state law.

January 15, 2009, 11:06 PM
That's good too! If that is a person's interpretation of what the ruling is, then I hope that those who feel that way, and do not have CPL's, openly carry their guns loaded and operable. More power to them!

And if they really want to prove their interpretive powers, I hope they carry the most decked-out AR-15 or similar gun they have!

January 16, 2009, 01:38 AM
Why not provide a constructive answer besides 'go ahead and do it'.

Why exactly do you think my interpretation is wrong? I pointed out a problem with your interpretation, yet you do not give me any reason to believe I'm wrong. How do you reconcile your position other than "IT SAYS CONCEALED SO ITS OBVIOUSLY CONCEALED". You haven't answered, then, why carrying an unloaded or inoperable firearm wouldn't also be illegal.

Is that your interpretation? That carrying an unloaded firearm is also illegal? If that's so than I agree with you that it's a possible interpretation. But you can't have a mix of the two.

I'd also like to point out that I'm not taking this rule out-of-context. If you don't fall under this rule than you must keep the firearm unloaded, away from ammo, in the trunk (or similar) area of your vehicle. So it's not like having an unloaded firearm is okay, and if it's concealed it can also be loaded.

Unfortunately I don't have an AR-15. About as close I have is a R597 with a banana mag. Is that good enough?

January 16, 2009, 06:27 AM
Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries

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Subpart D—Disturbing Violations: With Weapons

§ 27.41 General provisions.

Carrying, possessing, or discharging firearms, fireworks, or explosives on national wildlife refuges is prohibited unless specifically authorized under the provisions of this subchapter C.

§ 27.42 Firearms.

Only the following persons may possess, use, or transport firearms on national wildlife refuges in accordance with this section and applicable Federal and State law:

(a) Persons using firearms for public hunting under the provisions of 50 CFR part 32.

(b) Persons carrying unloaded firearms, that are dismantled or cased, in vehicles and boats over routes of travel designated under the provision of subchapter C.

(c) Persons authorized to use firearms for the taking of specimens of wildlife for scientific purposes.

(d) Persons authorized by special regulations or permits to possess or use firearms for the protection of property, for field trials, and other special purposes.

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision in this Chapter, persons may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms within a national wildlife refuge in accordance with the laws of the state in which the wildlife refuge, or that portion thereof, is located, except as otherwise prohibited by applicable Federal law.

The statute is setting limits. 27.41 initially makes carrying firearms illegal. 27.42 sets the limits to the exception of 27.41. (a) sets a limit allowing you to use firearms for public hunting under 50 CFR 32. Notice there are no descriptions of how the firearm must be carried, type of firearm, anything else, so long as the usage of that firearm conforms to 50 CFR 32. I don't know what 50 CFR 32 says but 50 CFR 32 sets the limits for using a firearm for hunting. Violate any of the limits set forth by 50 CFR 32 and you can no longer claim exception to 27.41 by act of hunting.

(b) sets a limit of unloaded and cased or dismantled in vehicles and boats while traveling. As long as the firearms AT LEAST meets those conditions, you can possess it. Notice that (b) does not state that the firearm must be locked. Does that mean that a firearm in a locked case is illegal? No, of course not. But possession of that firearm is allowed UP TO the limit specified in (b). If it is loaded, you have gone beyond one of the limits specified by (b). If it is not dismantled or cased, you have gone beyond one of the limits specified by (b). If you remove the firearm from the boat or the vehicle, you have gone beyond one of the limits. If you go off-road you have violated one of the limits. Also part (b) says carrying. Does that mean that you have to actually carry the firearm? NO. Carrying is the limit. Can I possess the firearm without carrying it? YES, that doesn't violate the limit of carrying. Can I transport the firearm in the trunk of the car without carrying it? YES, again because no limits have been violated.

(c) sets limits. Can an unauthorized person take a specimen with a firearm. No, that goes beyond one of the limits. Can a "scientific purpose" authorized person take wildlife for hunting? No, that goes beyond one of the limits.

(d) sets limits. Go beyond any of those limits and its illegal.

Now, let's say that you are a person who falls under (c). You are a scientist, you have authorization to take a deer for scientific research. Does that mean that you cannot possess your firearm in accordance with (b), unloaded and cased? No, of course not. Because you have not gone beyond any limits.

(e) sets limits. Go beyond the limits of possess, carry and transport by discharging your firearm and you are now illegal. Do you have to do all three? Do you have to possess, carry and transport at the same time? NO. You can transport the firearm in the trunk of your car, you have not gone beyond any limit. But go beyond one of those limits by discharging the firearm, or threatening with the firearm and now you are illegal.

The next set of limits is CONCEALED, loaded and operable. You can go up to those limits, but cannot exceed any of them. Does unloaded violate that limit? NO. Does inoperable violate any of those limits? NO. Does open carry violate any of those limits? YES! In this instance CONCEALED is a limit.

The next limit set by (e) is iaw state law. Well, since one of the limits is CONCEALED, then the limit of iaw state law would stipulate that the person must also meet the requirements for carrying concealed. Does that mean that since you are permitted to carry concealed that you have to carry? NO, of course not. But it is a limit that you can be legal up to that limit. Just because you are authorized, by state law, though, to open carry, does not negate the previously set limit of concealed.

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