You are here

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.


Sorry John, but nuts are ALREADY carrying concealed weapons in parks. What's being missed here is that we are talking about "concealed carry". The over inflated comments about carrying rifles on hikes is a joke. I wonder how many relatives of the students killed in the University of Virginia shootings had wished that concealed carry permits were allowed on campus.

Come on and use common sense. The most common reason to carry a rifle slung is for hunting or predator control and that is not allowed on NPS land. Most people do not want to carry extra weight without a good cause. There is a big differnce between a handgun and a rifle. For those who carry concealed for defense regulary will carry concealed everywher becase that is habit. carrying a ridle unless in battle i snot a habit for people in the US. The big reason that the military went to carbines is weight. A rif;e will wigh more and a pain to carry all the time.

The only reason I could see for a person to carry a rifle is to cause PSH in all the other nambies for pure shock value. That is rude and but gets irrestible the more we hear that CCW holders are criminaly minded as an JIm D said that CCW holders are violantly disposed without any evidence. Just pure slander.

Don't overlook the fact that more than a few national parks are surrounded by national forests, where hunting is allowed. If indeed Sen. Coburn's amendment would allow the carrying of rifles in parks, would hunters look to some park campgrounds as base camps they could use for heading off into sections of national forest that are not otherwise easily reached?

Anonymous -

Though it is true that the original rule spoke ONLY to "concealed" carry, Senator Coburn's amendment makes NO SUCH DISTINCTION according to the version I read this morning. It is simply "carry."

It is amazing that Senators are above the law when they are the lawmakers and that is what they were doing. I understand disagreement with the law change but to declare they are acting above the law is silly. A judge does not make law. The judge was going by the law and if the lawmakers agree that that is not the policy they wanted they can change the law.

I agree that less law is better and a lot of laws are poorly written. But I have been for allowing unrestricted carry for all non criminals, that means open carry if a person chooses to do so.

The Bush administration went with the lesser regulation change to restrict only to CCW holders but that scared NPS hysterics and they may get a totally non rstricted aw instead.

Beside why does a department had the ability to regulate a constitutional right? If this restricion was challenegd on 2a grounds the federal government could lose any ability to regulate guns on federal lands. That get back to "shall not infringe " language which is very strong.

Actually Kurt, that is good point. If I was planning a hunting trip I may choose to camp in adjoining NPS campground and travel with the rifles to the National Forest.

Good, because the wackos have already been carrying guns everywhere for decades. Now this will even up the odds for the law abiding people. A majority of state have passed Concealed or Carry laws, so whats the difference in carrying in a park... none... Glad they passed it.

There's a string of points in some anonymous posts that bear repetition and clarification.

The Coburn amendment allows -open- carry in national parks, consistent with state law. This differs from the CFR change regarding -concealed- carry which was previously promulgated and then enjoined.

Can we please stop blaming the Bush administration and start blaming Congress, now that 27 Senate democrats (and Sanders) voted for the amendment?

This amendment does not change regulations on the firing or brandishing of weapons. Nor does it allow firearms to be carried into federal buildings.

This amendment, if the bill passes and the language survives conference, would align national parks and wildlife refuges with the laws of the states where they are located. If concealed carry is not permitted in the state, it won't be permitted in the park. If open carry is not permitted in the state, open carry won't be permitted in the park.

Some states ban open carry altogether. (Including, surprisingly, Texas.) Some states require some degree of licensing for open carry. Some, mostly in the west, allow open carry freely, and you (assuming you're not a convicted felon or otherwise disqualified) can walk down the street with a brace of dueling pistols or a samurai sword if you want to.

The coalition of lobby groups quoted in Kurt's article carefully chose parks in open-carry states. Accurate, but incomplete. Under current laws, Visitors could not openly carry at programs in Big Bend, Everglades, or Congaree, or at Independence NHP, or Gateway and Golden Gate NRAs. Under this amendment, states would still have the ability to restrict carry in parks, national or otherwise.

Ever been to Las Vegas? In Nevada you can openly carry a gun on your hip. Ever seen anyone do it? Probably not. The same regulation prevails in Arizona, where I grew up. In the 25-odd years I lived there, I saw someone openly wearing a pistol no more than 2 or 3 times. The only time anyone does so is to make a political point--they do it, because they can.

Rifles are kinda heavy. Nobody is going to bring an AR-15 on the wildflower walk. Nobody is going to backpack into Grand Canyon with a .30-06--well... I take that back. Nobody is going to do it twice.

And for the last Anon post, I'd highly recommend against it. I believe it's still illegal, and unwise, to transport game across a park boundary.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments