Guns at Great Falls and Other National Parks

Photo courtesy of
‘Limberger’s Victory (cinema 1915)’
courtesy of ‘New York Public Library’

Today, a new law goes into effect that allows firearms in many national parks.

Previously, guns were generally prohibited in national parks, except for some in Alaska and in parks that allow hunting.

Now, the national parks — there are nearly 60 in this area — follow local gun laws. Anyone who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law can now possess those firearms in the national parks in that state, except in federal facilities such as visitor centers and ranger stations.

In fact, some folks suggested driving their guns out to Great Falls this afternoon, just because they can.

So what does this mean for, say, the Jefferson Memorial? Or the Mall?

Because DC laws typically prohibit concealed or open carry, firearms would not be allowed at the DC parks, said Sergeant David Schlosser of the United States Park Police.

But once you leave the District, state laws take over.

Guns can be carried openly or concealed (with a permit, and in restaurants) in Virginia, with more restrictions in Maryland (these links aren’t legal advice, folks).

So that opens the possibility to guns not just at Great Falls, but on the battlefields (ironic), the C&O Canal towpath, the Mt. Vernon trails, the GW and BW parkways, even Claude Moore Colonial Farm.

And jurisdictional lines are not always obvious in this area. For example, Schlosser explained, a stretch of George Washington Parkway between Boundary Channel Drive and Hump Back Bridge is in the District, not Virginia. The bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island is in Virginia, but the park is in DC.

The National Parks Conservation Association opposed the law, saying it will decrease visitor and employee safety and increase poaching and opportunistic shooting of wildlife. This makes perfect sense to me. As does the idea of parks as preserves.

So. Who’s up for a hike on peaceful lil’ Roosevelt Island?

An area resident since 1997, Donna C. is a DC outsider. When she’s not running her writing and Web business, she’s running around the city, exploring the great outdoors, or trying to figure out how best to go green. See why she loves DC.

7 thoughts on “Guns at Great Falls and Other National Parks

  1. If you are not afraid to go to a safeway in Virginia, then you shouldn’t be afraid to go to great falls.

  2. Thanks, Blogo. Great point, that guns are allowed all over Virginia – and most probably are carried by law-abiding citizens.

    But yeah, if a bunch of people were gathering up their guns to go hang out at the Safeway and show off some swagger, I’d go to the Giant. Would love to see a different mentality from a bunch of folks who are armed.

    While I’ve no plans to give up visits to the parks, dealing with that does detract from a peaceful parks experience.

  3. Sounds like a great change to me. I hope it gets expanded to allowing the legal carry of guns everywhere. My best friend was murdered by illegal aliens from Mexico in Northern Virginia two years ago simply because he was white and his girlfriend was hispanic. Which by the way nobody in the local or national media covered despite similar racially motivated killings and assualts occuring across the country. I’m also hearing a lot more very strange and eerie animal calls at night over the last couple years which I’ve never heard before. I suspect they’re coyotes which I heard are taking over large parts of the country again. Mountain lions, bears, wolves and other dangerous animals are also becoming increasingly common across the country thanks to over-zealous activism from environmentalists. I was almost killed by a bear while hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Virgina a few years ago during a Boy Scout outing in my youth. The only thing I had to defend myself with was a small dull blade in my Swiss Army knife and my fists. Which I’m sure the environmentalists would be glad to hear. And for people who think the chances of getting killed by a wild animal are small and that guns should be banned in general and especially in parks, take into consideration the recent example of a young Canadian singer who was recently killed by a pack of coyotes while hiking in a park in Canada. Or how about your beloved “bear man” hero and his girlfriend who were killed by girzzly bears a few years ago all because he refused to a carry gun for protection. Frankly I think you liberal environ-mentalists suffer from a brain disorder. You’re placing the lives of wild animals above the safety of actual human beings. That’s just wrong on so many levels and the non-brainwashed sane people need to seriously inject some much needed sanity back into the environmental activist movement. I also suggest you all go shooting at a local range to get over your pathological gun phobia.

  4. It blows my mind that liberals think that now that guns are legal at parks crime will increase. You think criminals pay attention to the laws?? Words written on paper mean nothing to them, if they want to carry a gun over there on Roosevelt Island they are going to do it. Now you can legally fend him off when attacked with your gun. Showing him your bleeding liberal heart probably will not stop him.

  5. Rob, legally nobody can carry a gun on Roosevelt Island. It’s in DC. Does anyone read these things? ;)

    Agreed, of course criminals don’t respect laws. And anything can happen anytime, but national parks historically have been very safe, without visitors carrying guns.

    And my point above is, when people who support guns start showing off their weapons and their bravado, and making statements like they’ve got something to prove, they don’t come across as cool-headed, rationally thinking people. That’s not the kind of behavior I want to see from someone who’s armed. Regardless of whether or not I am likewise armed, that makes me feel less safe.

  6. I mentioned Roosevelt Island only because it was mentioned in the article. I knew it was in DC and was giving grace to the writer by not “correcting” them. It is a mute point in the overall discussion.