Is Congress Soft on Guns?

As one who has watched Congress make legislation for more years than I care to count, I know the process is rarely a pretty one.

As one who has watched Congress make legislation for more years than I care to count, I know the process is rarely a pretty one. But increasingly the end product is even uglier. That's certainly been the case this week when lawmakers bowed to the wishes of whatever special interest yelled the loudest or yielded to irrational fears of how they thought voters might react.

For starters, take guns and credit cards. The only known link -- before this month -- was the use of the latter to purchase the former or the use of the former to steal the latter. But now Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn has linked them in legislation. When Congress took up a bill overhauling credit card regulations, he offered an amendment allowing people to carry guns -- in some cases loaded and concealed -- in national parks. Coburn says his only interest was to protect the constitutional rights of gun owners, and senators afraid of crossing the National Rifle Association ignored pleadings from park rangers and went along. The House seemed to think it had no choice but to do the same, and Obama wants the credit card bill so badly, he's going to sign it with the gun provision. So now a long-sought unrelated provision that Republicans couldn't get approved under Bush will become law.

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Mark Willen
Senior Political Editor, The Kiplinger Letter