This was a vote on permitting people to carry guns in national parks. The provision allowing the carrying of guns had been added by the Senate to an unrelated piece of legislation known as the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights, which the House had previously passed and sent to the Senate. The Senate then sent the credit card bill back with the gun provision attached. The House had adopted a procedure which required a separate vote on the gun provision apart from its vote on passage of the credit card bill.
Rep. Maloney (D-NY), who had been described as the “major author and chief advocate for the credit card bill”, in referencing the Senate passage of the bill said “(M)y only regret with the Senate's action is that they voted to include a completely unrelated provision allowing guns in our national parks, rolling back a rule that was put into place by President Reagan that has absolutely no purpose on this bill and should be removed in a separate vote.”
Rep. Hastings (R-WA) who supported the amendment said that “gun control advocates falsely claim that this amendment will increase poaching because American gun owners won't be able to resist the temptation to shoot wildlife encountered in national parks . . . the fact is that American gun owners are simply citizens who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights without running into confusing red tape. Opponents of this amendment will also call it unprecedented, far reaching and radical. But the fact is, it merely puts national parks and refuges in line with current regulations of national forest lands and Bureau of Land Management lands. . . The current policy is outdated, unnecessary, inconsistent and confusing to those who visit the checker board of public lands, and the policy needs to be changed, and this amendment does just that.”
Rep. McCarthy (D-NY), who was one of the leading gun control advocates in the House, said she was “incredibly disappointed that this well-meaning bill has been hijacked and used as a political tool to ram a provision down the throats of Americans when they need our help to address more pressing issues. Adding an amendment that will allow loaded guns into our national parks to a bill that is designed to help American families during an economic crisis shows an ignorance of the seriousness of our Nation's economic crisis and a disregard for the needs of its consumers. This amendment should not be part of this bill. Our national parks are among our greatest treasures . . . and every year millions and millions of families from all walks of life travel from far and near to enjoy these amazing resources. When families are out experiencing the wonders of our lands, the last thing they should have to worry about is a threat or the possible threat of gun violence. “
Rep, Bishop (R-UT) responded to Rep. McCarthy by first noting that there are “some in government who are very uncomfortable with the concept of an armed citizenry. . . (but) our Constitution. . .gave the protection in the Second Amendment to gun rights. The issue today is whether Congress will insist that the National Park Service live under the same rules that the national forests and the Bureau of Land Management areas have been under all the time. There's nothing unique or new about this. It is simply a matter of conformity. The real winners in this amendment are law-abiding Americans who will no longer be treated as criminals, even though they're good people. “
The gun provision passed by a vote of 279-147. One hundred and seventy-four Republicans and one hundred and five Democrats voted “aye”. One hundred and forty-five Democrats, including a majority of the most progressive Members, and two Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House approved the carrying of guns in national parks.