Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  United States Senator John Thune (R-SD) today announced that the Department of the Interior finalized updated regulations regarding the possession of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The ruling allows an individual to carry a concealed weapon in a national park or wildlife refuge if that person is permitted to do so under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located.

Last December, Senator Thune, along with 50 of his Senate colleges, signed a letter urging Secretary Kempthorne to remove Department of the Interior prohibitions on law-abiding citizens from transporting and carrying firearms on lands managed by the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

"For too long, law-abiding citizens were prevented from exercising their constitutional right to carry firearms on and across these federal lands," said Thune. "This ruling is a victory for all Americans and especially Second Amendment advocates. The ruling did not go as far as I had hoped, but regardless this is a victory."

Senator Thune and his colleges had requested the Department of the Interior craft a regulation that would allow not only individuals to carry a concealed weapon on these lands in accordance with state law, but for all state laws concerning gun rights to be extended onto these lands.

The Department of the Interior has filed the final regulation in the Federal Register and it will take effect in 30 days.

The text of the original letter to Secretary Kempthorne is available below.

The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Secretary Kempthorne:

December 14, 2007

We write today concerning a longstanding effort to have the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service remove their prohibitions on law-abiding citizens from transporting and carrying firearms on lands managed by these agencies. We appeal to you on this matter in the interest of Second Amendment rights and consistency in firearms policy across federal public land management agencies.

As you know, 36 CFR 2.4, applicable to the National Park Service, and 50 CFR 27.42, applicable to the Fish and Wildlife Service, prohibits individuals from possessing a firearm on lands managed by those agencies - even citizens with valid concealed weapons permits.

These regulations infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who wish to transport and carry firearms on or across these lands. Also, you will note that other federal land management agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service allow transporting and carrying of firearms on these lands in accordance with the laws of the host state. These inconsistencies in firearms regulations for public lands are confusing, burdensome, and unnecessary.

For these reasons, we support an exception to 36 CFR 2.4 and 50 CFR 27.42 to allow law-abiding citizens to transport and carry firearms consistent with state law where the National Park Service's sites and the National Wildlife Refuges are located. Such regulatory changes would respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, while providing a consistent application of state weapons laws across all land ownership boundaries.

We appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns with you. Please treat this letter in conformance with all applicable procedural rules and ethical guidelines.


Senators Mike Crapo, Max Baucus, Larry Craig, Tim Johnson, Jim Inhofe, Jon Tester, David Vitter, Mark Pryor, Gordon Smith, Blanche Lincoln, Orrin Hatch, Byron Dorgan, Norm Coleman, Ben Nelson, Tom Coburn, Jim Webb, Judd Gregg, Lisa Murkowski, John Ensign, John Sununu, Ted Stevens, Robert Bennett, Saxby Chambliss, Thad Cochran, Johnny Isakson, Jim Bunning, Wayne Allard, John Thune, Chuck Grassley, Bob Corker, Trent Lott, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Pat Roberts, Mel Martinez, John Cornyn, Richard Shelby, Chuck Hagel, Lindsey Graham, Elizabeth Dole, Mike Enzi, John McCain, John Barrasso, Sam Brownback, Pete Domenici, Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, Jon Kyl