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Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks


The U.S. Senate, which struggles mightily with topics such as health care, education, and balanced budgets, had no troubles Tuesday amending a credit card bill of all things with a measure to allow concealed weapons to be toted about national parks and wildlife refuges.

On an easy vote of 67-29 the senators tacked on the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, to a bill concerning how many fees credit card companies can charge you. If opponents to concealed carry in national parks are right, the senators might not have realized what they were doing.

"Senator Coburn’s amendment to the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act of 2009 would allow individuals to openly carry rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in national parks if the firearm is in compliance with State law," the National Parks Conservation Association, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Association of National Park Rangers, and the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, said in a letter sent to the Senate prior to the vote.

"As a result, individuals could attend ranger-led hikes and campfire programs with their rifles at Yellowstone National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and other national park treasures across the country."

In passing the amendment, it perhaps could be said that the senators viewed themselves as being above the law. Earlier this year a federal judge blocked a somewhat similar gun regulation from remaining in effect, saying the Interior Department had failed to conduct the obligatory National Environmental Policy Act reviews before approving the regulation. The irony, of course, is that Congress passed NEPA, and now the Senate is thumbing its collective nose at it.

The measure has a way to go before it can become law. The credit-card legislation needs to pass the Senate and gain approval in the House of Representatives, and then President Obama must sign it into law.

Here's how the senators voted on the amendment:


Sessions (R) Yes; Shelby (R) Yes.


Begich (D) Yes; Murkowski (R) Yes.


Kyl (R) Yes; McCain (R) Yes.


Lincoln (D) Yes; Pryor (D) Yes.


Boxer (D) No; Feinstein (D) No.


Bennet (D) Yes; Udall (D) Yes.


Dodd (D) No; Lieberman (I) No.


Carper (D) No; Kaufman (D) No.


Martinez (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.


Chambliss (R) Yes; Isakson (R) Yes.


Akaka (D) No; Inouye (D) No.


Crapo (R) Yes; Risch (R) Yes.


Burris (D) No; Durbin (D) No.


Bayh (D) Yes; Lugar (R) Yes.


Grassley (R) Yes; Harkin (D) No.


Brownback (R) Yes; Roberts (R) Yes.


Bunning (R) Yes; McConnell (R) Yes.


Landrieu (D) Yes; Vitter (R) Yes.


Collins (R) Yes; Snowe (R) Yes.


Cardin (D) No; Mikulski (D) Not Voting.


Kennedy (D) Not Voting; Kerry (D) No.


Levin (D) No; Stabenow (D) No.


Klobuchar (D) Yes.


Cochran (R) Yes; Wicker (R) Yes.


Bond (R) Yes; McCaskill (D) No.


Baucus (D) Yes; Tester (D) Yes.


Johanns (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.


Ensign (R) Yes; Reid (D) Yes.

New Hampshire

Gregg (R) Yes; Shaheen (D) Yes.

New Jersey

Lautenberg (D) No; Menendez (D) No.

New Mexico

Bingaman (D) No; Udall (D) No.

New York

Gillibrand (D) No; Schumer (D) No.

North Carolina

Burr (R) Yes; Hagan (D) Yes.

North Dakota

Conrad (D) Yes; Dorgan (D) Yes.


Brown (D) No; Voinovich (R) Yes.


Coburn (R) Yes; Inhofe (R) Yes.


Merkley (D) Yes; Wyden (D) Yes.


Casey (D) Yes; Specter (D) Yes.

Rhode Island

Reed (D) No; Whitehouse (D) No.

South Carolina

DeMint (R) Yes; Graham (R) Yes.

South Dakota

Johnson (D) No; Thune (R) Yes.


Alexander (R) No; Corker (R) Yes.


Cornyn (R) Yes; Hutchison (R) Yes.


Bennett (R) Yes; Hatch (R) Yes.


Leahy (D) Yes; Sanders (I) Yes.


Warner (D) Yes; Webb (D) Yes.


Cantwell (D) No; Murray (D) No.

West Virginia

Byrd (D) Yes; Rockefeller (D) Not Voting.


Feingold (D) Yes; Kohl (D) Yes.


Barrasso (R) Yes; Enzi (R) Yes.


great comments and sufficiently said Desert Explorer!!!

>>Kurt, thanks for showing through the use of numerous examples that prohibiting weapons does not stop people from being stupid and using weapons illegally.<<

Frank, just for clarification, while guns were, and continue to be, prohibited in Sequoia at the time of the shooting I mentioned, the other incidents occurred on U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands where weapons were permitted. Perhaps if there had been a ban the incidents wouldn't have happened. Surely target ranges wouldn't have been set up.

That said, I would agree that some people will do what they want with firearms, regardless of the regulations.

Rick, thanks for trying to control the conversation and censor me again. My conversation was with Mr. Bane, but thanks for chiming in.

Kurt, thanks for showing through the use of numerous examples that prohibiting weapons does not stop people from being stupid and using weapons illegally. The acts you reference, which are illegal now, will remain illegal under the current ruling. As for the BLM land in Arizona, I have visited the BLM land near Quartzsite, Arizona where many camp during the winter months. I'm told that the BLM has stepped up education about and prosecution of those who saguaro cacti for target practice, and the effort seems to be working.

Ah, Frank C., you're back on the gun issue, slippery slopes and all. Please admit that people can disagree with you. That's what this forum is all about. You get your say, Ray Bane gets his, I get mine. Is that an example of the domino theory?

Rick Smith

>....National Forest Service land has not turned into the mythical* wild west<<

Perhaps it hasn't turned exactly into the Wild West, mythical or otherwise, but some incidents in parks, forests, and BLM lands are worth noting because they do support concerns many have expressed about exactly what might happen in national parks:

* In 2007 there was a campground shooting in Sequoia NP. A no-doubt-fearless camper started firing his 9mm into the night, presumably spooked by what might have been a black bear cleaning up table scraps. Rangers found 9 shell casings.

* A Minnesota Court of Appeals just this week upheld a prison sentence for a 21-year-old involved in a 2007 "drunken shooting spree" in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, which is located in the Superior National Forest, where firearms are permitted.

* At a BLM property near Santa Fe, NM, someone "damaged by deliberate shooting" a panel of 8,000-year-old petroglyphs.

* In the Ironwood Forest National Monument, near Tuscon, Ariz., officials are thinking of banning target shooting because some visitors are resorting to old computers and TVs as targets and leaving the mess behind.

* BLM officials in Arizona also report target practice on saguaro cacti, as well as on a microwave oven that was placed in an ironwood tree.

Those incidents were cited in a story from Greenwire that ran in the NY Times on Thursday.

Also from that story:

Revisions to gun policies are also under way at other BLM sites, including Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado and Aqua Fria National Monument near Phoenix, Ariz.

The Forest Service, meanwhile, has opted to close 81,000 "urban interface" acres in the nearly 3-million-acre Tonto National Forest in Arizona to shooting due mostly to concerns about trash and public safety.

Mr. Bane: "I fear..."

Your fear is baseless as National Forest Service land has not turned into the mythical* wild west. Your fear also must succumb to others' natural and constitutional rights to defend their life, liberty, and property. Sorry. But you'll get over your fear. (And comparing bars to national parks? Really?)

Mr. Bane: "...that once the new law goes into effect some park visitors who in the past were comfortable unarmed will feel the need to have a gun to protect them from others who will be armed. It effectively sets off an arms race."

Thanks for the domino theory reference and slippery slope argument. (The domino theory has been debunked, and you have no evidence that the rule change will result in increased firearm possession in national parks. That's a very slippery slope, sir.)

*(According to UCLA historian Dr. Roger McGrath in Gunfighters, Highwaymen and Vigilantes: Violence in the Old West, violent crime rates in the Old West were far lower than today, and McGrath attributes those lower rates to the open carry of firearms.)

Coming to a park near you? People often do dumb things in the heat of the moment. If there is a gun handy there is a good chance it will be used. I fear that once the new law goes into effect some park visitors who in the past were comfortable unarmed will feel the need to have a gun to protect them from others who will be armed. It effectively sets off an arms race.

how many times have you used it illegally? many people respect the animals, there is a difference. A lot of people love the animals and wish for their success. when the bears are obviously around slough creek, they cordon it off, because its a small campground area that is more remote. quit misleading people who have never been there, ridiculous.

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