MasterBlaster Bill Worth It After All

By Beacon Staff

This is my third column about the infamous administrative rule to allow loaded, concealed firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, which has evolved into a symbolic and high priority political battle. Both pro-gun and anti-gun advocates seized on it as a way to find out who has the power.

And now we know. The gun lobby wins, easily, which is no surprise to me.

I view the passage of HR 627, a credit card reform bill with the highly publicized national park gun amendment attached, as valuable testimony for my past claims that the war to preserve the sanctity of the Second Amendment has been won. Clearly, most politicians are so gunshy about any recordable vote casting them as anti-gun and lowering their NRA grade – and therefore making them vulnerable to defeat in the next election – they go to untold lengths to avoid it.

Gun rights advocates must – and surely will – remain vigilant, but the victory in the Battle of the National Parks should give them confidence tthat hey have the political force with them.

Not convinced? Check this out.

On the gun amendment to the credit card bill, now collectively called the “MasterBlaster Bill,” the votes were 67-29 in the Senate and 279-147 in the House, with 105 Democratic representatives and 27 Democratic senators joining all but two Republicans in each house to create a veto-proof majority.

Obama could have vetoed the bill, of course, but he not only knew we need credit card reform immediately, but he also knew Congress would either override it or send it right back to him in another bill. I actually wish the national park rule would have come to the President’s desk as a separate bill to see if he would veto it, and if he did, how fast it would take Congress to override it.

I received several press releases from The White House on the day Obama signed the MasterBlaster Bill, all about credit card reform – not one word about the gun amendment. Bad idea, President Obama. This would have been a priceless opportunity to praise the sincere efforts of millions of people to send a message about the importance of the 2A instead of sulking in silence about it.

All that came out of the Beltway was a two-paragraph statement from an underling in the Department of the Interior (DOI) reminding us that new law won’t go into effect for nine months (Feb. 22, 2010) and begrudgingly admitting DOI “will follow Congress’s directive and implement the new firearms law.”

As they say, the silence is deafening.

Anti-gun groups were delighted to see the election of Obama and a strong Democratic majority in Congress and expected some progress toward stricter gun control. Wrong! Not only did Obama just sign a controversial pro-gun law, the first in a decade, but also the gun issue has become heavily non-partisan.

“Obamanoia” is spurring gun and ammo sales, but anti-gun legislation is going nowhere fast. The reauthorization of Assault Weapon Ban hasn’t even been introduced, perhaps because 65 House Democrats fired off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder telling him to forget it. Other anti-gun bills that have been introduced, such as HR 45, a ridiculous bill requiring firearm registration and photographing, fingerprinting and testing of anybody who tries to buy a gun, haven’t even gotten hearings.

Gun rights advocates now have a solid majority and will have it for a long time, even if Democrats remain in control. I suspect this is quite frustrating for the gun control advocates who thought their time had come.

We’re still hearing fear mongering about the national park gun rule, but all the new law does is apply the same rules to national parks that apply to state parks. We all go to state parks, I expect, and have we noticed a lot of gun-related problems? No. That’s what it will be like next year in our national parks – no problem.

Letting state lawmakers, not federal judges or Congress, dictate gun policy for parks doesn’t seem so frightening or radical to me. If the national park gun law is so intolerable for the residents of any state, they can ask their legislature to pass more restrictive gun laws for state parks, which will then apply to national parks in that state.

The Battle of the National Parks is over. When we visit a national park next year, I doubt we’ll notice the difference, but back in the Halls of Congress and the White House, the people we’ve elected definitely already notice the difference. The resounding votes on this gun rights victory will affect the course of firearms legislation for many years to come.