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Weekly Column: Protecting the 2nd Amendment

As an avid hunter and lifelong gun owner, I have always been a strong defender of the Second Amendment. We cherish our right to bear arms in South Dakota, where we have a strong outdoor heritage and lively economy based on sportsmen activity. This fundamental right is embedded in the Constitution and must be fiercely protected. That’s why I’m greatly concerned about the Obama administration’s latest attempt to circumvent congress and impose sweeping new gun restrictions on the American people. It is an assault on the Second Amendment.

The Department of Justice recently announced plans to impose these new regulations on gun ownership through executive order in the coming months. These new regulations range from imposing new requirements for gun storage to allowing the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to impose new regulations on pistols. The heavy hand of government is once again attempting to penalize law abiding citizens.  What this administration hasn’t figured out is that these proposals penalize the wrong people and ignore the Constitutional rights of citizens—an all too common theme under this president. This assault on the Second Amendment will do nothing to reduce criminal activity.  South Dakota has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country, and one of the lowest crime rates.  In my opinion, that’s not a coincidence. 

We all want to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, but the administration’s proposals are too broad and threaten the rights of law-abiding gun owners across the nation. These new rules make it harder for  ordinary citizens who pose no threat to society from exercising their second amendment rights. Any changes that effect these constitutional rights should be enacted legislatively. Regulations that aim to prevent serious offenders from obtaining a gun must not unfairly root out other prospective gun owners who are not a danger to society. 

I’m also concerned about how broad and how far the ATF will go when finalizing these new gun restrictions. Based on the president’s previous track record of imposing intrusive regulations, I have little faith these new gun rules would be reasonable or well-received. The president knows he would not have the support of Congress if he tried to pass these new rules through legislation. He failed to convince Congress to enact new gun restrictions just two years ago and I am concerned that this is just a back-door attempt to allow unelected bureaucrats to change our gun laws. I’ve always believed that if a rule that will affect millions of Americans is a good one, it should be able to stand up to Congressional scrutiny.

I’m also concerned that President Obama’s new gun regulations could make it so onerous to purchase and own a gun that it deters law-abiding citizens from even having one. Too many of us know too well what can happen when too much government red tape stands in the way. In preventing gun violence, we must focus on the offenders, not the weapon.

Our right to bear arms is one of our most important rights as citizens. In South Dakota and across the nation, hunters, gun collectors and sportsmen alike take seriously their responsibilities of owning a gun. We must push back against President Obama’s anti-gun agenda to protect the Second Amendment. As a member of the United States Senate, I will continue to work to defend the right to bear arms and put a stop to the president’s overreaching gun policies. 

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