The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today that included an amendment to repeal the gun ban on National Park Service (NPS) land and wildlife refuges.
The amendment, sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and attached to a credit card industry reform bill, passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 279-147.
For decades, law-abiding citizens have been prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights on NPS land and wildlife refuges, even if the state in which the land is located allows carrying firearms.
With some limited exceptions for hunting, the only way to legally possess a firearm anywhere in a national park is by having it unloaded and inaccessible, such as locked up in an automobile trunk. A Bush administration regulation partially reversed the ban, but that action was singlehandedly negated recently by an activist judge in Washington, D.C. The Department of Interior decided not to appeal that ruling.
Senator Coburn believes, like you do, that Americans should not be forced to sacrifice their Second Amendment rights when entering NPS land and wildlife refuges.
GOA worked with Coburn on an amendment that simply allows for state and local laws -- instead of unelected bureaucrats and anti gun activist judges -- to govern firearm possession on these lands.
The anti-gun leadership in both the House and Senate went berserk and fought to keep the Coburn amendment from being attached to the underlying bill. Sparks were flying on the floor of the House of Representatives today.
Anti-gun Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) whined that a "very good" credit card bill had been "hijacked" by the Coburn amendment. To this, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) pointed out that gun control is the policy of tyrants, as evidenced by the British attempt to confiscate firearms at Lexington and Concord in 1775.
Congressional leaders and entrenched bureaucrats have fought GOA over the NPS gun ban for the past eight years.
But your activism has finally broken through. The late Senator Everett Dirksen said, "When I feel the heat, I see the light!" Well, you have applied a lot of heat. Members of Congress know that they oppose your Second Amendment rights at their own peril.
As it stands today, both houses of Congress have now passed the Coburn amendment -- and President Obama is expected to sign the provision into law (only because it is part of a larger credit card bill that he really wants).
So, congratulate yourself for winning this long, hard battle. GOA was the leading, and often only, national gun group involved in this fight. Your involvement was absolutely vital to achieving this win.
Of course, many more battles lie ahead. President Obama continues to push for the Senate to ratify massive international gun control treaties. There is a battle over a Supreme Court nominee coming up. Anti-gun zealots in Congress are aggressively pushing to renew the Clinton gun ban and close down gun shows.
And as the health care debate picks up steam in the coming weeks and months, GOA is battling efforts to create a computerized national healthcare database. Such a database can be used to deny people their Second Amendment rights in the same way that so many veterans have lost their gun rights based only on the diagnoses of a doctor for things like combat-related stress.
GOA will be calling for action on these and other Second Amendment issues as they move through Congress.
In the meantime, have a safe Memorial Day as we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that America would remain "Land of the Free."
Read an Opposing View from the Brady Campaign, Brady Campaign Decries Guns in National Parks Law