You are here

Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks


The U.S. Senate, which struggles mightily with topics such as health care, education, and balanced budgets, had no troubles Tuesday amending a credit card bill of all things with a measure to allow concealed weapons to be toted about national parks and wildlife refuges.

On an easy vote of 67-29 the senators tacked on the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, to a bill concerning how many fees credit card companies can charge you. If opponents to concealed carry in national parks are right, the senators might not have realized what they were doing.

"Senator Coburn’s amendment to the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act of 2009 would allow individuals to openly carry rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic weapons in national parks if the firearm is in compliance with State law," the National Parks Conservation Association, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Association of National Park Rangers, and the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, said in a letter sent to the Senate prior to the vote.

"As a result, individuals could attend ranger-led hikes and campfire programs with their rifles at Yellowstone National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and other national park treasures across the country."

In passing the amendment, it perhaps could be said that the senators viewed themselves as being above the law. Earlier this year a federal judge blocked a somewhat similar gun regulation from remaining in effect, saying the Interior Department had failed to conduct the obligatory National Environmental Policy Act reviews before approving the regulation. The irony, of course, is that Congress passed NEPA, and now the Senate is thumbing its collective nose at it.

The measure has a way to go before it can become law. The credit-card legislation needs to pass the Senate and gain approval in the House of Representatives, and then President Obama must sign it into law.

Here's how the senators voted on the amendment:


Sessions (R) Yes; Shelby (R) Yes.


Begich (D) Yes; Murkowski (R) Yes.


Kyl (R) Yes; McCain (R) Yes.


Lincoln (D) Yes; Pryor (D) Yes.


Boxer (D) No; Feinstein (D) No.


Bennet (D) Yes; Udall (D) Yes.


Dodd (D) No; Lieberman (I) No.


Carper (D) No; Kaufman (D) No.


Martinez (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.


Chambliss (R) Yes; Isakson (R) Yes.


Akaka (D) No; Inouye (D) No.


Crapo (R) Yes; Risch (R) Yes.


Burris (D) No; Durbin (D) No.


Bayh (D) Yes; Lugar (R) Yes.


Grassley (R) Yes; Harkin (D) No.


Brownback (R) Yes; Roberts (R) Yes.


Bunning (R) Yes; McConnell (R) Yes.


Landrieu (D) Yes; Vitter (R) Yes.


Collins (R) Yes; Snowe (R) Yes.


Cardin (D) No; Mikulski (D) Not Voting.


Kennedy (D) Not Voting; Kerry (D) No.


Levin (D) No; Stabenow (D) No.


Klobuchar (D) Yes.


Cochran (R) Yes; Wicker (R) Yes.


Bond (R) Yes; McCaskill (D) No.


Baucus (D) Yes; Tester (D) Yes.


Johanns (R) Yes; Nelson (D) Yes.


Ensign (R) Yes; Reid (D) Yes.

New Hampshire

Gregg (R) Yes; Shaheen (D) Yes.

New Jersey

Lautenberg (D) No; Menendez (D) No.

New Mexico

Bingaman (D) No; Udall (D) No.

New York

Gillibrand (D) No; Schumer (D) No.

North Carolina

Burr (R) Yes; Hagan (D) Yes.

North Dakota

Conrad (D) Yes; Dorgan (D) Yes.


Brown (D) No; Voinovich (R) Yes.


Coburn (R) Yes; Inhofe (R) Yes.


Merkley (D) Yes; Wyden (D) Yes.


Casey (D) Yes; Specter (D) Yes.

Rhode Island

Reed (D) No; Whitehouse (D) No.

South Carolina

DeMint (R) Yes; Graham (R) Yes.

South Dakota

Johnson (D) No; Thune (R) Yes.


Alexander (R) No; Corker (R) Yes.


Cornyn (R) Yes; Hutchison (R) Yes.


Bennett (R) Yes; Hatch (R) Yes.


Leahy (D) Yes; Sanders (I) Yes.


Warner (D) Yes; Webb (D) Yes.


Cantwell (D) No; Murray (D) No.

West Virginia

Byrd (D) Yes; Rockefeller (D) Not Voting.


Feingold (D) Yes; Kohl (D) Yes.


Barrasso (R) Yes; Enzi (R) Yes.


It's about time the legislaters passed this. As a retired Law Enforcement officer of 27 years I know how much safer your family will be. You cannot always count on a Ranger or Park official being around when needed. Especially with todays economy and budget cuts. Carrying a rifle on a ranger led hike or campfire is ridiculous. It's about carrying a handgun the same as many people do in a responsible way in just about every state in America now.

Well, I certainly WON'T feel as safe on hikes now............I will face the dangers of nature over the dangers of man anytime !

I hate the fact that a congressman can slip a totally unrelated item into a bill that is going to almost surely pass. It is time this was changed.

Just what we need: a bunch of violence-predisposed people carrying guns in our national parks, which historically are among the safest places in the entire country. Facts clearly indicate there is no need for this. As the previous person wrote, I will feel much less safe if this becomes law. I have no problem with responsible gun owners. But the reality is I am far, far more likely to encounter an IRRESPONSIBLE gun owner (of whom there are legion, based on the daily stories of previously "law-abiding citizens" who decided to shoot someone for no reason) than I am to encounter a bear or other danger requiring a firearm. There simply aren't many cases where you'd need a gun in a national park, and I'd much rather take my chances with the wildlife than shoot-first-ask-questions-later gun lovers. If the good Senator Coburn is so eager to have the entire nation armed at all times, when is he going to push a law that allows tourists to carry guns into the Senate?

The park I visit the most has a lot of children's programs and school programs. Imagine the scene: a group of children are attending a school program in the park and standing next to them are people with rifles and shotguns. Do Senators really want this?

The most ignorant statement I've read in a while: ""As a result, individuals could attend ranger-led hikes and campfire programs with their rifles at Yellowstone National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and other national park treasures across the country."

You will find very few conceal carry permit holders displaying a weapon and will never see a rifle. Folks, I would be more concerned with the non-conceal carry people that already carry firearm's into national parks. Suicidal people and wanted felons are a fine example of the non-conceal gun toters that already flock to our national park.

Why is that an ignorant statement? Why wouldn't people with rifles carry them on programs? People with rifles are common (and legal) in national forests and BLM land - many that border national parks. Now, they can simply continue to bring them into the park and on hikes, trails, campfire programs, and the like. I understand that not everyone who owns a gun is a nut, but at least now, if someone shows up at a children's program with a gun, the NPS can take action to protect children. If this law passes, the person with the rifle at the program is doing nothing wrong until he starts firing. Then it's too late.

John Lison

I volunteer with the NPS and I have spent the last two summers and am now in a NPS campground. I keep my own weapon unloaded and locked up in my RV even though only my dog is there when I'm not. I just cannot imagine why anyone would feel so threatened so as to want a loaded gun in a National Park. But I am feeling threatened if some of the nuts that are out there are allowed to carry CONCEALED weapons into the Parks. If the NRA and gunfreaks have to have weapons I hope that they will amend this bill to require the weapons be carried prominently and on display, maybe with big signs that say something like" I'm scared of the squirrels and bears so I carry a 44 magnum" Steer clear of me!

If some bozo shows up at one of my talks, armed to the hilt , I'm gone. I'm a volunteer and don't intend to be a willing target of these nutcases. Let them shoot each other in some secluded spot of the Park. I don't want criticism of my fireside talks puncuateted by lead if somebody doesn't like what I say.

Then I wonder about the effect on all those darling kids who come to our Parks and upon whose faces I regularly see smiles of great wonderment and delight at our Parks when they spot a Rambo wannabe trooping around with a AK-47 (modified to be legal of course). Give it a rest gun guys. Call off the dogs and let this dog die the death it deserves.

I hate the fact that a congressman can slip a totally unrelated item into a bill that is going to almost surely pass. It is time this was changed.

That is unless it is something you approve of, like money for acquiring park land that has been tacked onto a highway bill. It seems that outrage at the appropriations system is reserved for what we disapprove of, but when this same corrupt and inept process produces results we like many tend to exclaim that "well a win is a win even if it had to get done through the backdoor of an unrelated bill". The ends suddenly seem to justify the means when you're winning.

The loathsome pirates in DC love nothing better than to divide and conquer us by using their ill-gotten booty to keep us fighting each other over who gets a slice of what. That's democracy in action. The Founding Fathers didn't define this sort of government as mob rule for nothing.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide