The right to keep and bear arms is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. Our Founding Fathers created the Second Amendment to safeguard individual's rights to hunt, defend themselves, and protect against tyranny.
For some reason, some politicians have refused to treat the second amendment with the same respect as the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. I, on the other hand, have consistently worked to protect Second Amendment rights from encroachment by the government.
I have long argued that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. The Supreme Court finally agreed with me in 2008, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. I joined a bipartisan group of 55 Senators to file a friend-of-the-court brief that supported a challenge to Washington D.C.'s nonsensical firearm regulations. The Heller decision did not get us all the way home, however. The holding in Heller was limited to Washington D.C. The Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to Chicago's gun ban. I joined 57 other Senators to urge the Court to repeal the ban and use the case, McDonald v. City of Chicago, to rule that the Second Amendment protects against any government intrusion into the right to keep and bear arms. Meanwhile, I have been supporting legislation to end D.C.'s foot dragging on honoring the Supreme Court's ruling.
Alaskans often tell me they are concerned about Congress taking away their Second Amendment rights. They are right to be concerned, but we have been very successful in the last few years.
One of our most tangible successes has been reversing the gun ban in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. For years, National Forest and Bureau of Land Management firearm regulations were governed by the state law where the land was located. But for some reason, firearms were banned in Parks and Refuges. Most Alaskan parks were exempt, but the myriad of rules were confusing and unfair. I worked to eliminate the ban, and I think recreationalists are better off because of our work.
I also worked to bring common sense and fairness to firearm regulations on Amtrak, a federally-subsidized train service. At one time, guns were completely banned from trains, even in checked luggage. Now, travelers can check a firearm in their bag, just like at the airport.
I have worked to protect Second Amendment rights for our veterans. Because of poorly-written laws, it is possible for a veteran to be banned from owning a firearm simply because the veteran was granted assistance with handling his or her finances. I find this completely unfair, so I have joined bipartisan group of my colleagues to fix the law. Our legislation was passed by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs in 2009, and I hope it will be signed into law soon.
Alaskans are very well represented when it comes to concealed carry regulations. The State of Alaska allows open or concealed carry in most circumstances, even without a permit. Alaskans may still get a permit so they can carry their concealed firearm in other states. There is a problem, however, because some states will not honor Alaskan permits. I have supported legislation to require reciprocity between states, and I hope that will fix this problem.
Of course, some gun control activists will continue to push silly regulations. We have heard talk of reviving the so-called assault weapons ban. I helped end the ban, and I will oppose reinstating it. We have seen proposals to register all firearms, or stamp all ammunition. I will continue to oppose those as well. I have also supported legislation to level the playing field for ammunition manufacturers, so they are able to cope with ammunition shortages.
If I am reelected, I will continue to be a leading voice for the Second Amendment.