Protecting our Families and the 2nd Amendment
by U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin
When it comes to governing, most of us agree that the less involvement the federal government has the far better off we are. This is especially true on issues concerning local matters, such as education or the right to carry a concealed weapon. Under current federal law, a citizen with a valid, state-issued concealed weapon permit is unable to bring a concealed weapon into national parks. This is why earlier this year I cosponsored H.R. 5434, the Protecting Americans from Violent Crime Act of 2008, which would allow law-abiding citizens to take their firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges. The basic premise of the bill is that just like on Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service lands, local and state laws should govern when it comes to firearms on all public lands.
Last week the Department of Interior partially addressed this issue. It announced a new proposal that allows concealed weapon permit holders to possess, carry, and transport concealed, operable firearms in national parks and refuge areas. This action is encouraging, but it is only a proposal. The DOI has also offered a 90 day comment period on this proposal. I encourage my fellow Wyomingites to write in and give the Department your thoughts on our right-to-carry in national parks. While I commend Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for this positive step forward, the real change will come when Congress debates, and hopefully passes H.R. 5434.
We address the same issues time and time again when we discuss gun rights. Although the arguments stay the same, we cannot be complacent with the issues. What is at stake when gun rights are discussed is our fundamental, constitutional right to protect ourselves and our families. To speak frankly, it is troublesome that the federal government ever thought it okay to restrict law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves when they visit national parks. That is a constitutional right that the federal government should not be able to take away from any law-abiding U.S. citizen. Just the same, if a citizen breaks a gun law, they should be punished to the full extent.
Like I have said many times before, Wyoming knows best. Wyoming's gun laws should not be subject to the whims of an agency within the federal government. Nor should they be respected on some federal lands, but ignored on others. Like our other constitutional rights, we should revere the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment.