The Sooner State's junior U.S. senator, Dr. Tom Coburn, is at it again. Always the contrarian, Sen. Coburn is blocking a bipartisan public lands bill on behalf of the gun lobby.
Coburn's latest budgetary ploy is an attempt to "overturn decades-old safety regulation barring people from carrying loaded guns in national parks," New York Times noted this week. The paper points out that Coburn is threatening to block the public lands bill "unless it includes his amendment to allow the packing of live firearms in the parks."
And why are loaded weapons in national parks a good idea? Coburn's office, the paper reported, could only offer a Death Wish movie scenario, saying that guns locked in your trunk are no use when a rapist is attacking your family.
Yikes! Talk about some seriously over-the-top fear-mongering.
If we understand the Coburn position correctly, it would be better to have all park visitors armed and ready at all times just in case there's a maniac on the loose.
A more sensible approach to guns in the park has been advanced by a group of retired park rangers, who have warned that loaded guns in national parks would increase the risk to public safety and make poaching in the parks much easier.
The Times argues that Coburn's amendment is "another attempt by the gun lobby to extend laissez-faire gun rights to college campuses, churches, and workplaces even as the nation suffers firearm fatalities and rampages that take 30,000 lives a year."
Thirty thousand lives a year—that's an amazing (and horrifying) statistic. And it's a statistic unlikely to diminish if we follow Sen. Coburn's "shoot 'em up" idea.
Let's be clear: We're not arguing that the government should take guns from its citizens. (That's not about to happen, in any case.) But neither do we believe that the Second Amendment gives every citizen an absolute right to be armed anywhere and everywhere.
National parks, for instance, might be a place where even gun-lovers can unload their weapons for a time. That hardly seems like a full-bore assault on the Second Amendment.
Reasonable restrictions on gun use and gun possession make common sense and serve the greater good. Dr. Coburn, who has made a professional pledge to "Do No Harm," ought to drop his obstructionist amendment.