On January 9, 2009 it became legal to defend yourself with a (concealed) firearm a National Park or Wildlife Refuge. Shortly thereafter a federal judge issued a temporary injunction on the Interior Dept. for failing to conduct an enviornmental impact review. DOI claimed a categorical exemption for the regulation since the regulation only permitted self defense uses of firearms. After it became clear that the administration would not appeal the ruling or promulgate a corrected version of the regulation, US Senator Coburn had HR 627 amended in the Senate prohibiting DOI from enforcing a regulatory firearms ban in Parks or Wildlife Refuges.
The whole law contained language that deferred implementation 9 months, or until February 22, 2010.
The relevant text:
SEC. 512. PROTECTING AMERICANS FROM VIOLENT CRIME.
(a) CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following: (1) The Second Amendment to the Constitution provides that ‘‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’’.
(2) Section 2.4(a)(1) of title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, provides that ‘‘except as otherwise provided in this section and parts 7 (special regulations) and 13 (Alaska regulations), the following are prohibited: (i) Possessing a weapon, trap or net (ii) Carrying a weapon, trap or net (iii) Using a weapon, trap or net’’.
(3) Section 27.42 of title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, provides that, except in special circumstances, citizens of the United States may not ‘‘possess, use, or transport firearms on national wildlife refuges’’ of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
(4) The regulations described in paragraphs (2) and (3) prevent individuals complying with Federal and State laws from exercising the second amendment rights of the individuals while at units of—
(A) the National Park System; and (B) the National Wildlife Refuge System.
(5) The existence of different laws relating to the transportation and possession of firearms at different units of the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System entrapped law-abiding gun owners while at units of the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System.
(6) Although the Bush administration issued new regulations relating to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens in units of the National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System that went into effect on January 9, 2009—
(A) on March 19, 2009, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction with respect to the implementation and enforcemen of the new regulations; and
(B) the new regulations—
(i) are under review by the administration; and
(ii) may be altered.
(7) Congress needs to weigh in on the new regulations to ensure that unelected bureaucrats and judges cannot again override the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens on 83,600,000 acres of National Park System land and 90,790,000 acres of land under the jurisdiction of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
(8) The Federal laws should make it clear that the second amendment rights of an individual at a unit of the National
Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System should not be infringed.
(b) PROTECTING THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO BEAR ARMS IN UNITS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM AND THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM.—The Secretary of the Interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm including an assembled or functional firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System if—
(1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and (2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System is located.
This means that DOI has to promulgate a new version of the current regulation ( the one permitting concealed firearms only) pursuant to the above bolded section. As of 02/07/2010 the new regulation has not been posted. Once available it will be posted here.
Note the extensive "Congressional Findings" leading up to the very short sections telling DOI what to do. These "Findings" were missing from the initial "gun free school zones act" which the Supreme Court found significant in overturning that law. Here the findings clearly show the intent to roll back the unconstitutional regulations being enforced by DOI against citizens exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
Exercising your constitutionally protected rights is lawful conduct, and the overwhelmingly passed findings & regulatory change language should certainly make this clear.
Be cautious transiting the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Both North and South bound lanes transit through territorial DC (District of Columbia) for a short stretch. The north bound stretch is longer than the south bound due to lane division along the parkway. Below are some tips to either travel through or around the undocumented DC line.
Here is a Garmin map file with both north and south "routes" that should guide you around DC on the GWP. You should verify this on an actual map, there is no guarantee here.
Heading northbound out of Alexandria, if you intend on not leaving the George Washington Parkway, you will need to stop, unload & case your firearms before entering DC. The National Park Service has many small parks & pull offs where you may do this. The most convenient location for stopping, unloading & casing your firearms is north of Washington / Reagan National Airport at Gravelly Point.
This is the last convenient place to pull over and unload your firearms for transiting DC north bound. It's just after Washington Reagan airport exit.
If you want to divert around the Columbia Island section of the GWP, proceed north on the GWP to the intersection with I-395. Take the I395 SOUTH exit, and get off on the exit for 110 / US 1 (north). Follow this to the intersection US 50, then take the exit to Wilson Blvd. Turn right on North Kent street, then right again on North Lynn street. Follow this to the exit for the GWP North and you will be safely in VA the whole time.
If you've opted to traverse the parkway unloaded, there is a convenient string of scenic overlooks, included in the Garmin map file.
Red is the South bound path, green is the North bound path around Washington, DC
Southbound, from I495 on the GWP, much less of the Parkway transits DC. Travel south and take the exit to Arlington National Cemetary / Tomb of the Unknowns. That is also how it is referred to in the Garmin map software. Here, you can do one of 2 things. Either turn LEFT and go all the way to the right where the cabs pull off, unload & case your firearm. OR, you can detour by getting on the route 110 south exit. Follow 110 south until the I395 interchange. Take the I395 North JUST until you get on the GWP. If you have transited through DC and need to stop and reload your firearm, right across from Gravelly Point on the North bound side, is Roaches Run on the south bound side. This is a convenient place to pull off and safely reload your firearm. If it's backed up, you can divert to route 233 further south. That will take you to Reagan airport, with access back to the GWP SOUTH.