A new federal law may alter the checklist for many Americans as they pack to visit national parks: insect repellent, snacks, hiking boots, double-barreled shotgun, says the Los Angeles Times. Visitors may pack heat in any national park if they comply with the laws of the park’s home state. In some places, they may carry concealed, loaded firearms, including in Yosemite Valley, along trails at Yellowstone and at the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Gun advocates welcomed the law as overdue, saying firearms are allowed in federal lands, many of which are next to national parks. Opponents say guns don’t belong in highly protected parks, where it remains illegal to fire a weapon or kill an animal and where employees, including most rangers, are unarmed. The presence of guns, they say, could increase the chance of deadly accidents and up the ante in confrontations between visitors or between visitors and wildlife. Restaurants, hotels and gift shops are subject to the law. Yosemite’s Ahwahnee hotel, for example, must allow visitors who are entitled to carry weapons to bring them in. Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of OpenCarry.org, which advocates carrying holstered handguns in public, said the law opens 85 million acres where gun owners have felt unwelcome.