Mississippi’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife make our state a vibrant place for sportsmen and recreationalists. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities are not only a way of life for many Mississippians but also have a substantial impact on our local economy.
I have consistently supported efforts in Congress to ensure today’s Mississippians and future generations are able to enjoy the great outdoors. Last month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved my legislation to streamline the process for hunters to obtain a federal duck stamp.
The bill, titled the “Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2013,” would create a nationwide electronic duck stamp at no additional cost to the government. Under current law, a federal duck stamp must be purchased from a local post office or sporting goods store. My legislation would save hunters time and money by allowing them to purchase a stamp online.
The electronic duck stamp would also help promote the conservation of wetland habitats, since 98 cents of every dollar spent on the stamp go toward conservation efforts. Although my legislation has yet to come to the Senate floor for a vote, a similar version has already received strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, which passed it by a vote of 401 to 0.
Defending a Constitutional Freedom
Mississippians understand the importance of preserving our Second Amendment rights. I recently saw this strong commitment firsthand at the second-annual Mississippi Delta Friends of the National Rifle Association banquet in Cleveland. During the event, I had the opportunity to speak about current initiatives in Congress to uphold the right of every American to keep and bear arms. One of these initiatives is the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2014,” which would allow individuals with state-issued conceal carry permits to use them in other states that have conceal carry laws. I am a cosponsor of the bill and voted in favor of a similar amendment last year.
I am also a cosponsor of the “Gun-owner Registration Information Protection (GRIP) Act,” introduced by Sen. Thad Cochran on March 11. The bill would prohibit the use of any federal funding to support nonfederal gun registries, including those maintained by state and local governments. Although the federal government cannot store information collected during the firearms background check process, current law does not ban the use of federal dollars to do so by outside organizations, states, and local entities. Sen. Cochran’s bill would close this loophole.
Defeating Efforts for Stricter Gun Control
These legislative actions to defend the Second Amendment are needed. Last year, President Obama and Senate Democrats tried to add new laws and regulatory burdens to increase gun control. Their efforts were defeated outright in the Senate.
In recent years, cases that have come before the Supreme Court have demonstrated the slim majority in favor of preserving Second Amendment rights. McDonald v. Chicago in 2010 and District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 were both 5-4 decisions – underscoring just how important future vacancies on the bench could be and the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to provide “advice and consent” on nominees. We must remain vigilant as we look ahead – not only for the future enjoyment of Mississippi’s great outdoors but for the integrity of the freedoms our Founding Fathers outlined for us.