Weekly Columns

Oct 03 2011

Protecting Second Amendment Rights

Senator John Boozman's Column for the Week of Week of October 3, 2011

Our founders emphasized the importance of the right to bear arms. As a strong supporter of this fundamental right, I am working to preserve the Second Amendment.

In the 111th Congress, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved allowing citizens to carry firearms in national parks, forests, and refuges in compliance with the law of the state in which the park or refuge is located. However, this law did not include millions of acres owned and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

My Senate colleagues and I have addressed this loophole through introduction of the Recreational Land Self-Defense Act, legislation to make gun regulations consistent across all federal recreational lands by bringing Army Corps of Engineers rules in line with other federal agencies.

This bill would prohibit the Secretary of the Army from enforcing any regulation that keeps an individual from possessing firearms on Army Corps of Engineer Water Resource Development projects or facilities while maintaining current regulations prohibiting guns and dangerous weapons in federal facilities such as Army Corps of Engineers headquarters or lock and dam buildings.

While law abiding gun-owners in Arkansas can legally carry concealed weapons with a permit, the law differs in states all across the country and is often unclear to travelers. Many states have voluntarily agreed to honor gun permits granted by other states, but there is no nationwide framework for honoring other states’ firearm permits.

In early September a House Committee heard testimony on a federal bill that would give Americans who hold valid state-issued concealed carry permits in their home states the right to carry their weapons across state lines. Our right to bear arms cannot be dictated by state borders and does not change just because we travel to another state. I applaud my House colleagues for recognizing the importance of creating consistency and eliminating confusion for permit holders. I am looking forward to cosponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.

While we work to uphold the Second Amendment through legislation and the judicial system, this constitutional right is under constant attack. I am concerned about the dangers posed to this right by the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). I believe this could be a backdoor opening that will chip away at every law abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.

The Obama Administration has expressed an interest international small arms control initiatives. While there is currently no drafted treaty and work is expected to continue on the issue through 2012, I am watching developments related to the ATT closely.  However, if the Obama Administration does sign the U.S. as a party to the treaty, it would have to be ratified by two thirds of the U.S. Senate. I will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding American gun owners.

As a gun owner I am working to uphold this right. Last year I received an A rating from the National Rifle Association and in the 111th Congress I had an A+ rating from the Gun Owners of America. I will continue to work closely with both of these organizations to preserve and strengthen gun owners’ rights and protect this freedom.

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