Get ready to pinch yourself.
After eight years of clashing with anti-gun bureaucrats and congressional leadership hostile to gun rights, we have never been closer to victory in the battle to repeal the National Park Service (NPS) gun ban.
As you are by now undoubtedly aware, NPS land is subject to a blanket gun ban. A Bush administration regulation partially reversing the ban was singlehandedly negated recently by an activist judge in Washington, D.C.
Gun Owners of America reported last week about an amendment to repeal the gun ban, sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), that passed by an overwhelming 67-29 vote. Senator Coburn attached his amendment to a fast-moving "must pass bill," H.R. 627, dealing with credit card industry reform.
"Visitors to national parks also should have the right to defend themselves in accordance with the laws of their states," Sen. Coburn said.
The Senate wrapped up business on the underlying bill today, while the House passed its version of the bill several weeks ago. The measure now heads back to the House to be "reconciled" with the Senate bill.
The problem for anti-gun House leaders is that their priority bill, H.R. 627, now contains a pro-gun amendment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forced to either delay the entire bill in order to try to strip the popular pro-gun amendment out later in the year, or allow the underlying bill to move through the House before Memorial Day with the Coburn amendment intact.
Sources close to the situation tell GOA that the Democrat leadership, which has opposed the NPS gun ban repeal at every turn, may have finally run out of options. The enormous outpouring of grassroots activism from GOA supporters may have at last convinced congressional leaders that if they bury this measure yet again, the repercussions will reverberate into the next election.
President Obama wants to sign this credit card legislation before Memorial Day. So it is possible that there will be just one more vote on this issue in the House this week. As of today, it appears the leadership plans to bring the underlying bill to the floor in two pieces for two separate votes -- one on the main bill and one on the Coburn amendment.
If both pieces pass the House, then they can be combined together as one bill and sent directly to the President without going to a House-Senate conference committee. (There would be no need to iron out differences in conference committee since the Senate would have already passed the exact same version of the bill.)
Bottom line: we just need to make certain that the gun ban repeal= amendment passes in the House, after which it will be joined back up with the main bill and signed into law.
This could be the last strike in a long battle, but even on the cusp of winning GOA has also learned that some -- supposedly on the pro-gun side -- are willing to compromise away this victory.
Read an Opposing View from the Freedom States Alliance, We Must Keep Guns Out of National Parks