Victory In The House!

— But the land bill battle will continue
— But the land bill battle will continue

Thanks to you, a bill expanding gun control on federal land was narrowly defeated Wednesday morning, March 11.

The Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009, S. 22, would have drastically increased the amount of land controlled by the National Park Service, thus subjecting such land to the anti-gun regulations of the agency.

The bill was brought to the floor of the U.S. House on what is known as the “suspension calendar.”  This calendar is normally reserved for non-controversial bills. As such, any bill being passed under the suspension calendar requires a two-thirds majority of those voting.

In this case, the pro-gun position prevailed by a mere two votes — meaning S. 22 is far from being non-controversial.

Although suspension bills are not normally amended, one change was allowed in a secret backroom deal between a few members.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), was intended to alleviate the concerns of gun owners.

The Altmire amendment sought to protect hunting and recreational shooting on federal land, but those steps are completely inadequate to address the concerns of millions of gun owners.

The Second Amendment protects, as the Supreme Court affirmed in D.C. v. Heller, an individual right to keep and bear arms.  That right was never intended to protect only the shooting sports.

Under current regulations, firearms possessed for the sole purpose of self-defense on land controlled by the National Park Service is prohibited unless the person holds a concealed carry permit.

While millions of law-biding Americans hold CCW permits, many more do not.  It is these citizens’ rights that are going unprotected.

NPS land covers the gamut from busy thoroughfares to remote wilderness areas.  These gun free zones are dangerous, in addition to creating a patchwork of inconsistent regulations between federal and state land.

Although we won today, unfortunately the battle is not over.

The anti-gun leadership will attempt to bring this bill back to the floor in a way that requires a simple majority, rather than the two-thirds vote they needed Wednesday.

Several pro-gun congressmen will try to offer an amendment in committee to simply allow state and local law to govern firearms possession on NPS land.  This type of amendment would put more control at the local level and protect the gun rights of all law-abiding Americans.

What is expected is that the leadership will propose a new “rule” that blocks any such pro-gun amendments.

If that happens, the vote on the rule becomes the gun vote.

House leaders have not indicated when they will attempt to bring the bill back to the floor, but it could come up at any time.

Therefore, your Representative needs to hear from you once again, for two reasons. First, the entire House needs to be urged to reject any parliamentary trick that excludes language to protect Second Amendment rights on federal land.  Next, those who voted against your rights need to know of your dissatisfaction, while those who stood up for your rights should be thanked.