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Bill allowing firearms in national parks passes; goes to White House

By Chris Casteel - Washington Bureau Modified: May 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm •  Published: May 20, 2009
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House today approved Sen. Tom Coburn's legislation to allow loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges, though opponents complained that it didn't belong on a bill aimed at tightening credit card regulations.

The so-called Coburn amendment was approved by a vote of 279 to 147 and means it will go to the White House as part of the credit card legislation. Congressional leaders wanted to get the credit card bill to President Barack Obama's desk this week and didn't want to take the time to hold a joint House-Senate conference committee to strip out Coburn's amendment. But they allowed a separate vote on it today.

The amendment would overturn a decades-old ban on carrying loaded firearms into national parks. Currently, firearms must be stored and unloaded before people can take them into the parks.

Coburn's amendment would allow loaded firearms in parks in states that permit the carrying of concealed weapons.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, said today that he attached the amendment to the credit card bill last week because Senate Democratic leaders had blocked him from offering it on other legislation.

"It's not about guns,'' Coburn said. "It's about states' rights — being able to determine what's best for them. And it's about the Second Amendment.

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