- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In Wyoming, we don’t ask for much from Washington. We do ask that Washington limit its intrusion on our land, water and especially our Second Amendment rights. That’s not a lot to ask in the grand scheme of Washington but it is critically important to the constituents who sent me to fight for them.

President Obama has nominated Eric Holder to serve as the United States attorney general. During the Clinton administration, Mr. Holder was Janet Reno’s deputy attorney general from 1997-2001. Deputy Attorney General Holder was on record supporting a long list of proposals to limit the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. He supported a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases, one-gun-a-month purchasing limits, licensing and registering of all gun owners, mandatory so-called smart gun technology and regulating gun shows out of existence.

During the last years of the Clinton administration, Mr. Holder was involved in the Justice Department’s attempt to use heavy-handed lawsuit threats against firearms manufacturers. Washington moved forward with their suits against gun manufacturers that did not comply with their so-called safety standards. Smith & Wesson was the only company that agreed to the demands. As a result, gun owners throughout the country boycotted Smith & Wesson for giving in to Washington and the gun control lobby.

In an Oct. 25, 2001, Washington Post editorial titled “Keeping Guns Away from Terrorists,” Mr. Holder argued that every firearm transaction should be regulated by Washington. His proposal would have required a son who inherited his father’s shotgun to conduct a background check if the son decided to put it on the market. Mr. Holder’s proposal was a backdoor attempt to regulate and shut down lawful gun shows by linking private gun sales to future terrorist attacks.

In January 2008, Eric Holder joined Janet Reno in a brief to the Supreme Court saying Second Amendment rights do not apply to individual citizens. That brief argued that the Second Amendment “does not protect firearms possession or use that is unrelated to participation in a well-regulated militia.” The Supreme Court ruled otherwise by affirming the individual right to possess and bear arms.

As a United States senator for Wyoming, I take very seriously the responsibility to protect and defend our right to keep and bear arms. President Obama has every right to nominate Eric Holder to be attorney general. I have the duty to closely review the nominee’s qualifications and philosophy on issues important to all Americans.

During Mr. Holder’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he said gun control is not on this administration’s agenda. He also said he still supports regulating private gun sales, banning ammunition and semi-automatic assault weapons. Given Mr. Holder’s career of attacks on the Second Amendment, his nomination continues to be of great concern to me. I am not convinced his philosophy on the Second Amendment is acceptable to the people of Wyoming and gun owners across the United States.

Agendas and intentions can change quickly. Our nation’s highest law enforcement officer must be committed to protecting and defending our individual rights to keep and bear arms. I intend to vote “no” on the nomination of Eric Holder.

John Barrasso is a Republican member of the United States Senate from Wyoming.

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