Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives reminds us that we must remain vigilant in the defense of our Second Amendment rights. Gun owners in Alaska and across the nation have expressed great concern about the introduction of H.R. 45, The Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act.
H.R. 45, introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., would require any person owning a handgun or semiautomatic firearm to obtain a federal firearms license. To apply for this license, individuals would have to submit to thumb-printing and release their medical records. The bill would even make it a crime for gun owners to change their addresses without notifying the attorney general.
First, let me reassure all Alaskans that I adamantly am opposed to H.R. 45. The bill would be impossible to enact, unacceptably invasive and likely is unconstitutional. The legislation has gained no support and stands zero chance of passage.
But the legislation has served one purpose: It’s a reminder that Americans must remain vigilant in the protection of our constitutional rights. While we must not take actions that would endanger the public, I applaud the many Alaskans who have taken the time to gather in opposition to this legislation. Gun owners absolutely are right to take notice and oppose efforts to erode the Second Amendment, and I stand ready to lend my support.
Despite potential threats, gun owners celebrated a victory last year with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. For the first time, the high court unequivocally upheld an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms. The majority opinion said “there seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”
I was pleased to support Dick Heller in his challenge of the D.C. gun ban by joining a group of 55 U.S. senators in a friend-of-the-court brief expressing our belief that the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual’s right to bear arms. Last month, the Senate passed legislation, which I cosponsored, that would fully realize the promise of the Heller decision by eliminating onerous gun control rules in D.C.
Additionally, in 2007, I supported efforts to bring common sense to firearm rules on public lands. These efforts became successful last year with a new rule requiring federal agencies to defer to state laws regarding concealed firearms in national parks. I am pleased with the new rule and have cosponsored legislation to expand and make the rule permanent. In addition, the 110th Congress passed important legislation to bring fairness to the background check system. I also backed efforts to protect veterans from being improperly stripped of their Second Amendment rights.
The new year has brought a new Congress and a new administration. I am pleased by President Barack Obama’s campaign statements in support of the Second Amendment. However, I remain wary of those in the administration and in Congress who would seek to restrict our rights.
Rest assured that I will keep a watchful eye on attempts to restrict Second Amendment rights and vigorously will oppose them should they come before the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 2002.