March 19, 2008

SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED

By Senator Mike Crapo

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

            Amendment II, United States Constitution

 

On March 18, the Supreme Court, for the second time in our history, began hearing arguments in a case that compels the Court to interpret the meaning of the 2 nd Amendment of the Constitution. The case challenges a Washington, D.C. law that bans handguns in homes. The details of the case are not as important as the compromise of our Second Amendment right that this ban promotes. In Washington, D.C., handguns aren't allowed in homes and legal firearms must be disassembled or trigger-locked rendering the firearm useless in an emergency. Many groups from across the political spectrum support a repeal of the ban. The reasons center primarily on something intrinsic to our Idaho values-that of the Constitutional right to self defense in our own homes and lives. The Constitution guarantees individual Americans the right to keep operable firearms, correctly asserting the necessity of individual security to the existence of a free nation. Any judicial decision that compromises this guarantee bespeaks a chilling loss of individual rights. 

 

This Congress, there have been a number of opportunities to defend our right to keep and bear Arms, as the Constitution guarantees. In December, I led 50 of my Senate colleagues in a letter requesting that the Department of the Interior (DOI) better align public lands firearms regulations with state firearms laws. Many who legally keep firearms are hunters and others do so for personal protection. While states set their own laws with regard to firearms possession, and Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management firearms policies are coherent with host state firearms laws, the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service prohibit the transport and carry of loaded, accessible firearms and place severe restrictions on all firearms, regardless of host state laws.  The result is a patchwork of confusing, unenforceable and ineffectual firearms laws. If an individual is authorized under state law to transport a firearm, it's unreasonable at best and ridiculous at worst for that individual to have to submit to contradictory federal regulations, depending on the type of federal land they happen to be traveling across in a particular hour. As a result of Congress's request, DOI is drafting a rule lifting the ban, which it intends to submit to Congress by April 30. 

 

Another opportunity arose when I joined with other members to block the nomination of Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan to the post of Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). I informed Acting Director Sullivan of my concerns with BATFE treatment of small firearms dealers.  Mr. Sullivan conveyed his belief that BATFE is fair and impartial in its treatment of these businesses, and only revokes federal firearms licenses when it has no other options.  I remain concerned about Mr. Sullivan's response and, therefore, continue to oppose his nomination.

 

Most recently, I joined a bipartisan majority of both Houses of Congress in a Friend of the Court Brief filed in support of the lower court's ruling in the D.C. gun ban case. The Brief reaffirms Congress's findings throughout our country's history that the 2 nd Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms.

 

During my time in public service, I have defended and will continue to defend our 2 nd Amendment rights that preserve not only our individual, but our collective freedom.

 

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