Monday, February 22, 2010

Parks open to holders of concealed guns

U.S. national parks will open Monday to holders of concealed firearms as a hard-fought law passed last year takes effect, but both sides expect more battles over exactly what the legislation means in practice. The law - probably the biggest legislative achievement for conservatives in what was otherwise a year dominated by President Obama's agenda - says national parks will be governed by the same rules as the states in which they are located. That means about 370 of the country's 392 National Park Service properties will permit visitors to carry firearms. But the Park Service says exceptions are in place and that another federal law requires guns to be kept out of federal facilities. That means firearms are still prohibited at any building where park employees regularly work, including office buildings, maintenance sheds and, most contentious of all, visitor centers. "I think you're going to have people on both sides of the issue test this in what is or is not a federal facility," said David Barna, a spokesman for the National Park Service. Gun rights advocates said they are pleased that weapons will no longer be off limits but that the Park Service should not poke exemptions into the more

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