The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Like most Americans, I believe it's important to protect all the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution - whether it's freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, or the Second Amendment right to bear arms. And, in a recent ruling, the Supreme Court got it exactly right by striking down a ban on citizens owning a gun in Washington, D.C. and affirming that all law-abiding Americans have a Constitutional right to own firearms.
Unnecessary restrictions should not be placed on law-abiding citizens who own guns or who want to obtain them through legal means.
That's why I'm pressing the Interior Department to move forward with a proposal that would provide equal treatment for permitting firearms on federal lands. Under current rules, firearms can be transported and carried only on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. This means firearms are prohibited on public lands managed by the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. There's no reason for this inconsistency - and I'm pleased that the Interior Department is working on a draft proposal to update this policy and allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves in accordance with state laws.
The federal government shouldn't be in the business of telling a family that they can't keep a gun in their home, or placing arbitrary restrictions on the right of Americans to carry firearms on public lands. American citizens should not have their Constitutional rights restricted simply because they drive through or walk on public land - as long as they comply with state laws. Carrying a gun for self-protection should be permitted when enjoying federal lands and forests.
I believe the Interior Department proposal will help restore Second Amendment rights and I'm hopeful that it will be finalized in short order.
As a nation, our focus should be on preventing criminals from obtaining firearms and prosecuting illegal gun violence - not imposing restrictions on law-abiding citizens.
Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.