The Nation: Shotguns, AK-47's and Your National Parks

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"National Parks are not like other public lands, and they are not like state lands. They are set aside because they are unlike anywhere else on Earth." — Congressman Raúl Grijalva

Senator Tom Coburn has struck again, aided and abetted by feckless Majority Leader Harry Reid.

This time around, Coburn hijacked the credit card reform bill, attaching yet another insane gun amendment that has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue at hand. The result? A vote for the "Credit Card Bill of Rights" is now also a vote for allowing loaded shotguns, rifles — even AK-47s — into our national parks. Score another win for the NRA, poaching, environmental degradation, and national insecurity — and a huge loss for public safety.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva, who chairs the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee as well as the Progressive Caucus, held a press conference on Capitol Hill yesterday to urge action against the amendment. He was joined by Representatives Carolyn McCarthy and Carolyn Maloney, as well as advocates from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the Humane Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and two retired park rangers— one of whom is a former director of law enforcement at the parks.

Grijalva and his colleagues urged Americans to contact their representatives and tell them to vote against this amendment, which could be taken up on the House floor as early as today. (Grijalva said it was an "uphill" battle to find the votes to shoot the amendment down.) They also urged House leadership to take the bill to conference and strip the amendment as not germane, which clearly it isn't.

Yesterday a Reid spokesman told CongressDaily that there is little Reid can do to prevent amendments like Coburn's — frankly, that's a load of crap. He could toughen up (as could Dems fearful of the NRA). There is a well known process on the Hill called "filling the tree", whereby the Majority Leader cuts off amendments by offering his own — even if they are simply place holders. In response, the GOP would certainly complain bitterly or maybe try to slow down the process. Let them. I'm sure interfering with the credit card reform at this moment of financial hardship would serve only to cement their minority status.

Republicans don't mess around when it comes to taking advantage of parliamentary tactics. It's time for the Democrats to respond in kind. Perhaps Harry Reid simply isn't up to the job at hand.

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