CCW Permit Changes Prompt Questions

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A change in federal law that allows firearms in many national parks does not include state parks and forests or other state recreational areas, including game lands.

According to the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of Interior, people who can legally possess firearms under federal and state law can now possess those firearms in the national parks in that state. This pertains to anyone with a concealed carry permit.

National parks should not be confused with national forests. In North Carolina, the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan national forests are also designated as game lands.

"Concealed carry permits do not supersede the other regulations that apply," said Maj. Keith Templeton, with the Law Enforcement Division of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. "It is up to the individual with a valid concealed carry permit to know the law and obey it."

Under game land regulations, it is unlawful to possess a firearm or bow and arrow on a game land at any time, except:

  • * During the open hunting seasons for game birds and game animals
  • * When the firearm is cased or not immediately available for use
  • * When possessed and used by participants in field trials on field trial areas
  • * When possessed and used on target shooting areas designated by the landowner
  • * When possessed in designated camping areas for defense of persons and property

Game land regulations allow .22 caliber pistols, with barrels not greater than seven and a half inches in length and shooting only short, long or long rifle ammunition, to be carried as a sidearm on game lands at any time, other than by hunters during the special bow and arrow and muzzleloading deer hunting seasons.

Some additional game land and hunting regulations of note:

  • * All hunting seasons are closed on Sunday; some game lands are open to hunting only three days per week.
  • * Only a shotgun and bow and arrow may be possessed during the big game season for wild turkey. This means no rifles or handguns are allowed on game lands during the wild turkey season.

Other notable state laws:

  • * Loaded firearms are prohibited at all N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission public access areas (boat ramps) and public fishing areas.
  • * It is also unlawful to possess a loaded firearm within a posted restricted zone of any state-owned fish hatchery.
  • * In counties where shining a light at deer is not prohibited, it is always unlawful to be in possession of any firearm, including a concealed firearm with permit, while shining a light in search of deer.