National Parks Gun Ban: Coburn Amendment Passes Overwhelmingly

— And Montana becomes a model state

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gun owners 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.

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.

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.

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.

GOA will alert you once the conferees are appointed, as we need to put the heat on the conference committee to keep the Coburn amendment in the final bill.

Please stay tuned for further updates.

States Beginning to Resist Federal Intrusion

The epicenter of the earthquake you may have felt last month originated in Helena, Montana.

That’s where Governor Brian Schweitzer signed the Montana Firearms Freedom Act into law.  This act basically states that if you build a gun in Montana — and the firearm stays in the state — it is exempt from federal gun control laws.

Several states have passed so-called Tenth Amendment resolutions in recent years to protest the usurpation of power that the federal government has engaged in.  However, most of these resolutions have no teeth.

What Montana has done is to actually interpose itself so as to protect its citizens from the unconstitutional mandates that have been passed at the federal level.

Gary Marbut, a former GOA Board Member and the current head of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, is the intellectual author of this legislation.  He says that almost a dozen states are considering — or have already introduced — similar bills.  Marbut is expected to talk about the new law on Fox’s Glenn Beck show this Friday (5 pm EST).

This effort is not the first act of interposition on Montana’s part.  This is the state that has effectively, by law, decreed that every law-abiding citizen within the state is authorized to carry a firearm within a school zone; the state that nullified the federal requirements of REAL-ID (read: National ID card); and which had even threatened to leave the union if the Supreme Court ruled against Second Amendment rights in the Heller case.

Thank God for the state of Montana.

What’s Your Current GOA Status?

Obviously, we now face years of invigorated attacks on our gun rights.  Shutting down gun shows, prohibitions on specific calibers, another semi-auto ban, and the anti-gun extremists’ Holy Grail of mandatory federal licensing and registration of all gun owners — these are just some of the horrors that we already know we’ll have to defeat head-on. Meanwhile, we’ll take every opportunity to go on offense and advance the Second Amendment.

It can’t be done without every single voice being counted. That’s why we are asking you to consider making the commitment of becoming a Gun Owners of America Life Member. By doing so, you put the politicians on notice that neither you nor GOA is going away — that no matter who’s in the White House, there is always going to be a solid wall of resistance.

Now is a perfect time to become a Life Member.  And if you aren’t a GOA member at all, isn’t it time you became one?