From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, an AP report that Congress has voted to allow licensed gun owners to carry loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The bill easily passed Wednesday in the House by a vote 279-147. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a similar measure.
The House and Senate votes mark a return to Bush administration policy that briefly allowed loaded guns in national parks before being set aside by a federal judge in March. The measure was included as a rider on a bill which imposes additional restrictions on credit-card companies. The newly-restored right to carry in national parks and wildlife refuges only applies where it is also permitted by state law.
Texas is one of those states. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson's response to the federal judge's ruling was to oppose transferring ownership of the Christmas Mountains to the National Park Service. Alaska is another state which allows carry in national parks and wildlife refuges. Governor Sarah Palin's reaction was to praise Congress for restoring the Bush policy:
"This is certainly good news for Alaska," Governor Palin said. "The ability to carry a firearm can define a life or death situation, especially for protection against surprise encounters with wildlife, mainly bears. I appreciate the strong bipartisan support this received in the House and Senate. I am pleased the administration says the president will sign the bill."
Though a majority of Democrats in both houses were against the gun measure, a sufficient number of them joined Republicans in voting for the bill that the final count in both the House and Senate wasn't even close.
The Brady Campaign filed the original lawsuit which led to the judge's suspension of the Bush policy. Tuesday the anti-gun group characterized the Senate vote as "reckless" and asked President Obama not to sign the bill unless the gun provision is removed from the credit card bill. The president, however, is expected to sign the measure. Recent polling indicates that the public mood favors second amendment rights and is not sympathetic to government suppression of those rights. This is not a battle that the Obama administration and "Blue Dog" Democrats want to engage in at this time.