Weekly Columns

Protecting Your Right to Bear Arms & Addressing Health Care Reform

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Washington, March 3, 2010 | comments
I am a strong advocate for the Second Amendment and I believe the Constitution provides law abiding citizens the freedom to keep and bear arms. As the Congressman of the First District, I am committed to safeguarding the rights of law-abiding American citizens, and I will be a consistent voice for the Second Amendment and fight attempts to weaken those rights that are granted in the Constitution.

Even today there are cases before the Supreme Court over the right to bear arms, most recently the case called McDonald vs. Chicago involving area residents who want handguns for protection in their homes. In this case, Chicago area residents are asking the court to extend its 2008 decision in support of gun rights in Washington, D.C., to state and local laws. Some argue that such a ruling would firmly establish a right that has been the subject of politically charged and often fierce debate for decades, but I believe the Constitution is written in black and white – we as citizens of the United States have the right to bear arms according to the Second Amendment.

On May 20, 2009, I was pleased to vote for legislation that allowed gun owners to carry their weapons into national parks and wildlife refuges, which was previously prohibited. The legislation, which passed as an amendment to a larger piece of legislation and passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 279 to 147, was signed into law by the President.

I am also a cosponsor of the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows law-abiding citizens who are permitted to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry that weapon in another state, subject to his or her permitted state’s restrictions. It seems to me the right to bear arms does not stop at the state line, and this common sense legislation will ensure the right is unimpeded by different state governments. As an advocate of our Second Amendment rights, I felt these bills strengthened our right to bear arms.

On the health care front, I recently supported a measure called the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, or H.R. 4626. In an ongoing effort to lower health care costs for Tennesseans, I joined both my Republican and Democratic colleagues to pass this common-sense bill, which passed by a vote of 406 to 19. Although this bill is not perfect, I do believe it is a step in the right direction because it strips away protection from the health insurance industry in relation to liability for price fixing or dividing up market territories. These are small steps we can take to reform the health care system without trying to cram through a government takeover of health care.
In the absence of anti-trust regulations, there have been more than 400 mergers in the health insurance industry during the past 14 years, leaving 94 percent of insurance markets highly concentrated. Between 2000 and 2007, profits in the industry have leapt from $2.4 billion to $13 billion. The passage of H.R. 4626 will help level the playing field.
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