He said city gun laws still prohibit firearms on the National Mall and other park properties in Washington, D.C., but not at places like the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia.
However, he said, Virginia law prohibits firearms at sites that are holding educational programs for children, such as at Wolftrap during children’s theater events. Hotels, bookstores and other concessions in parks not operated by Park Service employees will follow local rules.
Mr. Barna said gun owners, particularly those who carry their firearms, tend to be knowledgeable about state and local laws.
He said parks are updating their Web pages to explain what is or isn’t allowed, and will post signs at the buildings that are still off limits to firearms.
As of Sunday, the George Washington Memorial Parkway’s Web site had a page that said firearms could be legally possessed in the park in accordance with state law, then listed links to the D.C., Virginia and Maryland legal codes, though users had to hunt for the portions that dealt with firearms.
Mr. Barna said that firing a gun likely would incur a penalty in most parks.
By carving out so many exceptions, he said, the Park Service is creating a problem that doesn’t exist with other federal land agencies.
The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have allowed state laws to govern firearms on their property. Mr. Bishop said that policy is less complex than what the Park Service is imposing.
“The Park Service could treat Americans as Americans and respect the Constitution if they wanted to. I wish they wanted to,” he said.