John Thune

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

U.S. Senator John Thune of South Dakota is the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for April.
John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, nominated Sen. Thune for the Award.
“Sen. Thune,” said Snyder, “throughout his public life, has been an outspoken proponent of the individual Second Amendment civil right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms. As most Point Blank readers are aware, Sen. Thune has taken the lead in the Senate in working for enactment of legislation to allow state-issued CCW permit holders to carry in any state. He is most deserving of this Award.”
“I strongly support the Second Amendment,” says Sen. Thune. “I firmly believe that the plain language of the Second Amendment guarantees the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.”
During the 110th Congress and now in the 111th Congress, Sen. Thune has introduced legislation that, he says, “would allow individuals who have a concealed carry permit the ability to carry a firearm in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The law is needed because some states refuse to honor concealed weapons permits from other states.
“Also, as a long time defender of Second Amendment rights, I applauded the Department of Interior’s December 2008 final rule allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges if that person is permitted to do so under the state law in which the park or refuge is located. One year ago, I along with 46 of my other Senate colleagues had requested the Department of the Interior to craft a rule allowing individuals to follow state laws in national parks and wildlife refuges. I commend the Department of Interior’s decision to finally allow law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to carry firearms on and across federal lands.”
Sen. Thune declares that, “I am committed to continuing to support legislation that ensures that South Dakotans are able to enjoy their Second Amendment rights, especially when it comes to the numerous hunting traditions we enjoy.”
In late February, when the Senate took up S. 160, the District of Columbia Voting Rights Bill, Sen. Thune was an original cosponsor of an amendment by Sen. John Ensign of Nevada to ensure that the District of Columbia abide by last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the District’s previous comprehensive handgun ban.
After the Senate accepted the amendment by a 62-36 vote, Sen. Thune noted that, “The Supreme Court clearly ruled last year that the District of Columbia’s gun ban was unconstitutional, and District officials promptly responded by passing new restrictions designed to circumvent the ruling. The District of Columbia has an extremely high violent crime rate, and its citizens are unable to legally defend themselves. I am proud the Senate acted to restore the constitutional right to the residents of the District, which also sends a message to other communities with restrictive gun laws.
“However, I am dismayed that the Senate ultimately passed the so-called DC Voting Rights Bill. The underlying bill is clearly unconstitutional, and it is my expectation that the legislation will ultimately be struck down by the courts. Fortunately, the Ensign Amendment will remain law even if the underlying legislation is declared unconstitutional.”
Earlier in the debate, Sen. Thune offered his bipartisan stand-alone legislation, S. 371, the proposed Respecting States Rights’ and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, as an amendment to the DC Voting Rights Bill. Sen. Thune withdrew his bipartisan amendment because of objections to a recorded vote, but was able to get an explicit commitment from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont that the bill would receive a hearing in this session of Congress.
The Senate passed the DC Voting Rights Bill by a vote of 61 to 37 and sent it to the House of Representatives for consideration there.
John Thune grew up in Murdo, South Dakota. He received his undergraduate degree at Biola University and his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota. Upon completion of his Master’s Degree in 1984, he married Kimberley Weems, a native of Doland, South Dakota. They now live in Sioux Falls. They have two daughters, Brittany, a college junior, and Larissa, a college freshman.
John was elected three times to the U.S. House of Representatives. He then honored his 1996 campaign pledge to serve only three terms in the House. After a narrow loss in a Senate race in 2002, Thune won his Senate seat in 2004, when he made history by defeating the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle.