[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 84 (Wednesday, April 30, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 23388-23390]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-9606]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 84 / Wednesday, April 30, 2008 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 23388]]



DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

36 CFR Part 2

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 27

RIN 1024-AD70


General Regulations for Areas Administered by the National Park 
Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service

AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, 
Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of the Interior, through the National Park 
Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, proposes to amend 
regulations presently codified in 36 CFR part 2 and 50 CFR part 27, 
which provide guidance and controls for the possession and 
transportation of firearms in national park areas and national wildlife 
refuges. The proposed amendments would update the regulations to 
reflect current state laws authorizing the possession of concealed 
firearms, while maintaining the existing regulatory provisions that 
ensure visitor safety and resource protection such as the prohibitions 
on poaching and limitations on hunting and target practice.

DATES: Written comments will be accepted through June 30, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by the number 1024-AD70 
by any of the following methods:
--Federal rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
--Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: 1024-AD70; Division of Policy 
and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. 
Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
--Hand-deliver: 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 
22203.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Lawyer, (202) 208-3181, 
Mark_Lawyer@ios.doi.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    A core tenet of our system of government is that States have the 
prerogative to develop their own policies and standards in many areas, 
and this principle has long been honored with respect to policies 
governing the possession of firearms. Recognizing the importance of 
this long-standing tradition, we believe that federal agencies have a 
responsibility to recognize the competence of the States in this area, 
and that federal regulations should be developed and implemented in a 
manner that respects ``state prerogatives and authority.'' Cf. 
Executive Order 13132 of August 10, 1999 (``Federalism'').
    This proposed regulation is intended to give greater effect to 
these principles. As discussed below, forty-eight States authorize 
citizens to carry concealed weapons for the purpose of self-defense. 
Existing federal regulations governing firearms in national parks and 
national wildlife refuges, promulgated before many of these State laws 
were in effect, properly limit poaching and target practice, but 
unnecessarily disable or limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to 
possess, carry, and transport a concealed firearm. The Department 
believes that Federal regulations should be amended to defer to this 
development in State law, particularly where, as in this case, the 
deference can be achieved without harm to the visitors or resources the 
regulations are designed to protect.
    The existing regulations contained in Part 2 of Title 36, and Part 
27 of Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations are used by the 
National Park Service (NPS) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to 
protect the natural and cultural resources of park areas and refuges, 
and to protect visitors and property within those lands. In their 
current form, these regulations generally prohibit visitors from 
possessing an operable and loaded firearm in areas administered by 
these bureaus unless the firearm is used for lawful hunting activities, 
target practice in areas designated by special regulations, or other 
purposes related to the administration of federal lands in Alaska. The 
regulations also allow visitors to transport firearms through parks and 
refuges subject to limitations that generally require the firearm to be 
unloaded and rendered inoperable or inaccessible.
    The current FWS and NPS regulations were last substantively updated 
in 1981 and 1983, respectively. Forty eight States now provide for the 
possession of concealed firearms by their citizens. In many States, the 
authority to carry loaded and operable concealed firearms extends to 
State park and refuge lands, whether expressly or by operation of law. 
Since the Federal regulations have remained unchanged during this time, 
the provisions fail to distinguish between firearms used by the general 
public for recreational purposes and the concealed and loaded weapons a 
limited number of citizens may now carry pursuant to state authorities. 
This restricts fundamental freedoms without yielding the benefits the 
regulations were promulgated to achieve. It also results in unnecessary 
limitations on the applicability of state law.
    The Department's intent in undertaking this rulemaking process is 
to better respect the ability of states to determine who may lawfully 
possess a firearm within their borders while preserving the Federal 
government's authority to manage its lands, buildings, and facilities. 
Mindful of that objective, the Department proposes to amend existing 
regulations in order to allow individuals to carry concealed weapons in 
park units and refuges to the extent that they could lawfully do so on 
analogous state-administered lands. In this regard, the proposal is not 
designed to authorize firearms possession in

[[Page 23389]]

federal facilities, or when otherwise forbidden by state or federal 
law. Rather, the Department's proposed rule is intended to respect 
state authority in a similar manner to that adopted in existing 
regulations by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest 
Service. Each of these agencies authorizes the possession of loaded and 
concealed weapons consistent with the applicable authorities of the 
state in which the lands are located.
    By adopting state law in this manner, the Department continues a 
tradition of managing federal lands in cooperation with states. This 
often includes the adoption of non-conflicting state authorities. For 
example, the FWS and NPS have adopted state laws and regulations in the 
areas of hunting, fishing, and boating.
    Under the proposed amendment, visitors must have authority to 
possess loaded and concealed firearms on analogous state lands before 
they will be allowed to carry firearms in Federal park areas and 
refuges. In practice, this will mean that two conditions must be met in 
order for this proposed regulatory change to permit the possession of 
firearms on federal parks and refuges. First, the state in which the 
park or refuge unit is located must have laws that allow the individual 
to possess concealed and loaded firearms. And second, the authorization 
to carry a concealed and loaded firearm must be applicable on the 
analogous state lands in the State in which the park or refuge is 
located. Where these conditions are present, the proposed amendments 
will accommodate State prerogatives with respect to recognition of 
licenses issued by other States, including reciprocity agreements. 
Individuals authorized to carry firearms under this rule will continue 
to be subject to all other applicable state and federal laws. 
Accordingly, as stated above, this rule does not authorize the carrying 
of concealed firearms in federal facilities in national parks and 
wildlife refuges.
    The Department recognizes that national park areas and wildlife 
refuges may present resource management obligations that differ from 
those of state park units and wildlife areas. National park areas and 
refuges are often located in close proximity to state parks or refuges, 
and visitors to these sites may frequently travel through a combination 
of federal and state lands during the course of a visit. In these 
circumstances, we believe that adopting the state standards for the 
possession of firearms on federal lands will promote uniformity of 
application, better visitor understanding of the requirements, visitor 
safety, resource protection, and increased cooperation between state 
and federal law enforcement officials.
    The Department believes that the proposed amendments give greater 
effect to principles of Federalism while maintaining protection of 
visitors and the values that have led to the establishment of park 
areas and wildlife refuges. We note that a number of individuals 
throughout America have obtained permits to carry firearms under state 
laws, most of which require background screening and some form of 
training or certification in gun safety. Moreover, a number of states 
also allow individuals to carry operable and concealed firearms in 
state park areas or wildlife refuges. We strongly endorse the principle 
that States have the prerogative to develop appropriate policies and 
standards in this area, and believe that our management of parks and 
refuges should give the greatest respect to the democratic judgments of 
State Legislatures.

Section-by-Section Analysis

36 CFR Part 2

Section 2.4--Weapons, Traps, and Nets
    Current Section 2.4 generally prohibits visitors from possessing an 
operable and loaded firearm in park areas unless the firearm is used 
for lawful hunting activities, target practice in areas designated by 
special regulations, or other purposes related to the administration of 
federal lands in Alaska. Under the proposed amendment, an individual 
will be able to possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and 
operable firearms within a national park area in the same manner, and 
to the same extent, that a person may lawfully possess, carry, and 
transport concealed, loaded and operable firearms in any state park in 
the state in which the federal park, or that portion thereof, is 
located. Possession of concealed firearms in national parks as 
authorized by this section must also conform to applicable federal 
laws.

50 CFR Part 27

Section 27.42--Firearms
    The current regulation in Section 27.42 generally prohibits 
visitors from possessing an operable and loaded firearm in a national 
wildlife refuge unless the firearm is used for lawful hunting 
activities. Under the proposed amendment, an individual will be able to 
possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms 
within a national wildlife refuge in the same manner, and to the same 
extent, that a person may lawfully possess, carry, and transport 
concealed, loaded and operable firearms in any state wildlife refuge, 
or any functionally similar unit of state land, in the state in which 
the national wildlife refuge, or that portion thereof, is located. 
Functionally similar state lands will include, but not be limited to 
State wildlife management areas and state game areas. Possession of 
concealed firearms in national wildlife refuges as authorized by this 
section must also conform to applicable federal laws.

Compliance With Laws, Executive Orders, and Department Policy

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 12866)

    This document is a significant rule and is subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866.
    (1) This rule will not have an effect of $100 million or more on 
the economy. It will not adversely affect in a material way the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or 
communities.
    (2) This rule will not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise 
interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency.
    (3) This rule does not alter the budgetary effects of entitlements, 
grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights or obligations of 
their recipients.
    (4) This rule raises novel legal or policy issues.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of the Interior certifies that this document will 
not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
    a. Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or 
more.
    b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions.
    c. Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

[[Page 23390]]

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or 
tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per 
year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, 
local, or tribal governments or the private sector.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the rule does not have 
significant takings implications.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the rule does not require 
the preparation of a federalism assessment.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This regulation meets the applicable standards set forth in 
Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988 Civil Justice 
Reform.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This regulation does not require an information collection under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We are required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
by Departmental guidelines in 516 DM 6, (49 FR 21438) to assess the 
impact of any Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the 
human environment, health, and safety. We are currently working to 
determine the appropriate level of NEPA assessment and documentation 
that will be required for promulgation of this regulation.

Government-to-Government Relationship with Tribes

    In accordance with Executive Order 13175 ``Consultation and 
Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments'' (65 FR 67249), the 
President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, ``Government-to-Government 
Relations with Native American Tribal Governments'' (59 FR 22961), and 
512 DM 2, the Department will consult with federally recognized tribal 
governments throughout the development of the regulation to jointly 
evaluate and address the potential effects, if any, of the proposed 
regulatory action.

Clarity of This Regulation

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

List of Subjects

36 CFR Part 2

    National parks.

50 CFR Part 27

    Wildlife refuges.

    In consideration of the foregoing, we propose to amend part 2 of 
title 36 and part 27 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations as 
follows:

Title 36--Parks, Forests, and Public Property

CHAPTER I--NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DOI

PART 2--RESOURCE PROTECTION, PUBLIC USE AND RECREATION

    1. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1, 3, 9a, 17j-2, 462.

    2. Amend Sec.  2.4 by adding a new paragraph (h) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  2.4  Weapons, traps and nets.

* * * * *
    (h) A person may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, 
and operable firearms within a national park area in the same manner, 
and to the same extent, that a person may lawfully possess, carry, and 
transport concealed, loaded and operable firearms in any state park, or 
any similar unit of state land, in the state in which the federal park, 
or that portion thereof, is located, provided that such possession, 
carrying and transporting otherwise complies with applicable federal 
and state law

Title 50--Wildlife and Fisheries

CHAPTER I--UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, DOI

PART 27--PROHIBITED ACTS

    1. The authority citation for part 27 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Sec. 2, 33 Stat. 614, as amended (16 U.S.C. 685); 
Sec. 5, 43 Stat. 651 (16 U.S.C. 725); Sec. 5, Stat. 449 (16 U.S.C. 
690d); Sec. 10, 45 Stat. 1224 (16 U.S.C. 715i); Sec. 4, 48 Stat. 
402, as amended (16 U.S.C. 664); Sec. 2, 48 Stat. 1270 (43 U.S.C. 
315a); 49 Stat. 383 as amended; Sec. 4, 76 Stat. (16 U.S.C. 460k); 
Sec. 4, 80 Stat. 927 (16 U.S.C. 668dd) (5 U.S.C. 685, 752, 690d); 16 
U.S.C. 715s).

Subpart D--Disturbing Violations: With Weapons

    2. Amend Sec.  27.42 by adding a new paragraph (e) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  27.42  Firearms.

* * * * *
    (e) Persons may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, 
and operable firearms within a national wildlife refuge in the same 
manner, and to the same extent, that a person may lawfully possess, 
carry, and transport concealed, loaded and operable firearms in any 
state wildlife refuge, or any similar unit of state land, in the state 
in which the national wildlife refuge, or that portion thereof, is 
located, provided that such possession, carrying and transporting 
otherwise complies with applicable federal and state law.

    Dated: April 25, 2008.
Lyle Laverty,
Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. E8-9606 Filed 4-29-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-52-P