Under new regulations, persons with valid concealed-carry permits may now possess weapons for self-defense in national parks, under the laws of the state in which the park is located.
In other words, if I enter Mesa Verde National Park, I am still under Colorado law, not suddenly under a different, federal law.
To quote the Interior Department's announcement:
Existing regulations regarding the carrying of firearms remain otherwise unchanged, particularly limitations on poaching and target practice and prohibitions on carrying firearms in federal buildings.
Why did this issue come up? Law-blogger Eugene Volokh quotes Interior's FAQ page:
[W]e also recognize that current statistics show an alarming increase in criminal activity on federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior, especially in areas close to the border and in lands that are not readily accessible by law enforcement authorities.
In other words, the feds cannot guarantee your safety in parks along the Mexican border where drug smugglers, etc., run freely, as well as in some other parks with crime problems, e.g. Yosemite.
If national parks were crime-free, park ranger Nevada Barr's career as a mystery writer would never have taken off.
Yet the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonprofit supporting the National Park Service, is treating this news like a disaster.
Simply put, concealed-carry permit holders are not the people that they have to worry about in regard to crime and poaching.
These permit holders have gone through training classes, fingerprinting, and criminal background checks in order to get their permits. They are as close to Grade A law-abiding as you can get -- yet the NCPA wants to treat them all as potential criminals.
I can see two reasons for NPCA's agitation. One is simply fear of change. The other is ignorance. Neither reflects well on the organization.