Gun Owners of America (GOA) won a long-fought victory in the U.S. Senate yesterday with the passage of an amendment to repeal the gun ban on National Park Service (NPS) and National Wildlife Refuge System land.
GOA was the driving force behind this amendment and lobbied Senators hard prior to the vote to get the provision passed. The amendment, offered by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 67-29. People can see how their Senators voted on the Coburn amendment by going to:
NPS and Wildlife Refuge land is treated differently with regard to gun rights than other federally controlled land. For instance, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allows state and local laws to govern firearms possession. However, carrying firearms on NPS land and Wildlife Refuges is prohibited, even if the state in which the land is located allows carrying firearms.
The only way to legally possess a firearm anywhere on National Park land is by having it unloaded and inaccessible, such as locked up in your trunk.
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This has created a patchwork of conflicting regulations. For instance, a Virginia resident who is licensed to carry a concealed firearm can legally carry on the Commonwealth's roadways, but it is illegal to carry on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a major thoroughfare in Virginia under the jurisdiction of the NPS.
In the waning days of his administration, President Bush partially reversed the ban, but even that half-way measure has been single-handedly negated by an activist judge in Washington, D.C. The Department of Interior has decided not to appeal that ruling, thus
leaving the gun ban in place.
The Coburn amendment will treat NPS land and Wildlife Refuges in the same manner as BLM land. The amendment will in no way change or override state, local or federal law, but will simply allow those laws -- enacted by legislation, not bureaucrats or judges -- to govern firearms possession.
The amendment was attached to a bill, H.R. 627, regulating the credit card industry. The House passed its own version of the bill on April 30 by a vote of 357-70, and the Senate is expected to follow suit this week.
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The House bill does not contain the Coburn language, and is substantially different in other respects. Therefore, a House and Senate conference committee will have to iron out the differences between the two bills. President Obama said he wants to sign a bill before Memorial Day.