Amid a national debate on constitutional rights, a national conservative group hosted a banquet in Tulsa to honor Sen. Tom Coburn for his defense of the 2nd Amendment.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, spoke before a packed banquet hall Friday and praised Coburn for passing the only federal legislation this year to defend the people’s right to bear arms.
“The people are becoming confrontational, “ Pratt said in reference to town hall meetings over proposed changes in health care. “Politics is confrontational.”
“What is happening around the country and what is happening in Oklahoma gives me hope,” Coburn told the banquet crowd. “Liberty is being sacrificed for the sake of expediency.”
Pratt said Coburn, the chairman of the Second Amendment caucus in the Senate, was leading the charge to restore constitutional rights to the states and to the people.
“The bill to repeal the National Park Service gun ban was passed because of Dr. Coburn,” Pratt said.
“Gun Owners of America was the most consistent and loudest voice on Capitol Hill in support of the effort to repeal the National Park Service gun ban.” Coburn said.
An amendment sponsored by Coburn, R-Okla., was attached to a credit card industry reform bill and it passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 279-147.
For decades, law-abiding Americans had been prohibited from exercising Second Amendment rights on National Park Service land and wildlife refuges, even if the state in which the land is located allows carrying firearms.
With some limited exceptions for hunting, the only way to legally possess a firearm anywhere in a national park is by having it unloaded and inaccessible, such as locked up in an automobile trunk.
A Bush administration regulation partially reversed the ban, but that action was singlehandedly negated recently by an judge in Washington, D.C. The Department of Interior decided not to appeal that ruling.
The amendment allows for state and local laws - instead of bureaucrats and anti-gun judges - to govern firearm possession on these lands.
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.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., said a “very good” credit card bill had been “hijacked” by the Coburn amendment. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said gun control is “the policy of tyrants, as evidenced by the British attempt to confiscate firearms at Lexington and Concord in 1775.”
President Obama signed the provision into law because it was part of a larger credit card bill that he really wanted.
Obama continues to push for the Senate to ratify massive international gun control treaties. Anti-gun zealots in Congress are pushing to renew the Clinton gun ban and close down gun shows.
In the health care debate, there are efforts to create a computerized national healthcare database. Such a database could be used to deny people their Second Amendment rights in the same way that so many veterans have lost their gun rights based only on the diagnoses of a doctor for things like combat-related stress.
“If you give up on the 2nd Amendment, you give up on them all,” Coburn said. “The Second Amendment is the true ‘checks and balances’ of our government. The right to bear arms is the most important guarantee that we have.”
In a related issue, in Helena, Montana, Gov. 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 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.
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 (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.
“The real gun lobby in Washington, D.C., is the Gun Owners of America,” Coburn said.
Coburn said he had “a couple of more surprises” for the gun control crowd coming in future legislation.