Defending the Second Amendment

December 27, 2010

With deer season in full swing, many Mississippians will participate in a time honored tradition of hunting.  This time outdoors allows our people to develop important life skills at an early age and gain a love of nature, which can last a lifetime.  As a sportsman, I know the benefits of hunting firsthand, and as a member of Congress, I remain committed to preserving our Second Amendment rights.

Our children and grandchildren should be able to enjoy the same experiences with firearms we have had all of our lives.  Responsible exercise of Second Amendment rights is part of Mississippi’s way of life. I am working to preserve the right to bear arms and defend the Constitution.

                       A Bias Against Sportsmen and Hunters

For many years, hunters wishing to travel by airline have been able to transport firearms and ammunition in secure, checked baggage when declared during the check-in process – something that is done every day at airports across our country.  However, until two weeks ago, Amtrak passengers were not permitted to do likewise.  Even though it is sometimes much more convenient for sportsmen to travel by rail, particularly in rural and remote parts of the country, Amtrak stopped offering any way for individuals to transport secured guns in 2001. 

Law-abiding gun owners should not be penalized for seeking to travel by rail.  Amtrak receives a $1.55 billion federal subsidy, so Americans rightly deserve the option of transporting a firearm in a responsible way.  To solve this problem, I was able to pass legislation that mirrors current TSA requirements to check a firearm for air travel.  The National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America supported this effort.

My legislation to reinstate the secured firearm policy on Amtrak was signed into law on December 16, 2009, and implemented this month on December 15.  During that intervening time, Amtrak worked to strengthen security procedures.  Now, those wanting to travel with a firearm have another transportation choice.

                                 Other Challenges Remain

Amtrak’s bias is not the only opposition faced by gun owners.  Anti-gun advocates and activist judges still seek to strip Americans’ Second Amendment rights at any available opportunity.  Congress has often exhibited a disturbing trend of hostility toward gun owners, which much be reversed.  Instead of penalizing law-abiding citizens, we should defend the rights our Founding Fathers outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I continue to support the work by Senator John Thune from South Dakota to give residents in states like Mississippi with concealed-carry permits the ability to carry their firearms in another state.  So long as the host state’s laws are followed, gun owners should have the ability to travel from state to state.  It is disappointing that Congress has not passed a bill to allow this. 

                        Standing for the Second Amendment

The right of individuals to own firearms for recreational use and to protect their families and property has been under attack for years.  The new law stands for the proposition that Americans should not have their second amendment rights restricted for any reason, including when they choose to travel on America's federally subsidized rail line.  I will continue working in the new Congress that convenes in January to preserve the Second Amendment.