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Firearms - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Concealed Firearms Regulations -- As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park. It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms website and select the state that you are interested in from the list on the right side of the page. More specific information about state permit regulations can be obtained on the following websites:

North Carolina

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances.

Additional Information for North Carolina permit holders:
The permit holder must have the permit together with valid identification whenever carrying a concealed handgun, and must disclose to any law enforcement officer that they have a valid permit and are in possession of a concealed handgun when contacted. The permit and proper identification must be presented to a law enforcement officer upon request.

Carry of Shotguns and Rifles
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles shall be in accordance with North Carolina state law. See the North Carolina website listed above for more information.

North Carolina recognizes certain out-of-state concealed handgun permittees to carry concealed handguns, if the person's respective state also grants such privilege to North Carolina concealed handgun permittees.

The list of states granting such reciprocity is constantly changing. Out-of-state permittees should refer to the North Carolina Department of Justice's website at for a current listing of those states which are allowed to carry, pursuant to their concealed carry permits in North Carolina.

To possess a concealed handgun in North Carolina, out-of-state holders must
1. Carry their permit and a valid form of identification at all times.
2. When approached or addressed by any law enforcement officer in North Carolina, disclose the fact that they have a valid concealed handgun permit.
3. Inform the law enforcement officer that they are in possession of a concealed gun.
4. Present both the permit and valid identification at the request of the law enforcement officer.

Additional Information for Tennessee permit holders:

The permit holder must have the permit in their immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun and must show the permit at the request of a law enforcement officer.

Carry of Shotguns and Rifles
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles shall be in accordance with Tennessee state law. See the Tennessee website listed above for more information.

Tennessee recognizes a facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or a license issued by another state according to its terms, and will, therefore, authorize the holder of such out-of-state permit or license to carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee.

This means that the state of Tennessee will recognize any state's valid permit or license, even if Tennessee does not have a written reciprocity agreement with that state, and even if that state does not recognize a Tennessee permit. Individuals must be in possession of the permit or license at all times while in possession of a handgun in Tennessee.

Wildlife Viewing Regulations -- Most visitors understand that feeding wildlife is against the law, but many people do not realize that disturbing park wildlife is also a violation of federal regulations and can result in fines and arrest.

The laws protecting park wildlife are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. It states that “Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces bear or elk is prohibited." In addition, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited.

As a rule of thumb, if you approach an animal so closely that it changes its behavior, you have approached too closely. Instead use binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras with telephoto lenses to enjoy wildlife. Watch for any modification in an animal's behavior that indicates that you have approached too closely. Move away from the animal until you reach a distance at which the animal feels comfortable once again and resumes whatever activity it was engaged in before you approached.

Never feed wildlife or bait animals for closer observation or photography. Feeding park wildlife usually guarantees its demise.

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