Senate rejects stricter gun laws

By : Wire Report
Comments: 0

Washington (AP) – A divided Senate hurtled June 20 toward an election-year stalemate over curbing guns, eight days after Orlando’s mass shooting horror intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but left them gridlocked anyway – even over restricting firearms for terrorists.

Each party was offering one plan it said would keep terrorists from obtaining firearms and a second bolstering the existing system of background checks for gun purchases. Democrats said the GOP proposals were unacceptably weak, Republicans faulted the Democrats’ plans as overly restrictive and all four proposals faced likely defeat in largely party-line votes.

The expected rejection of the proposals underscored the pressure on each party to give little ground on the emotional gun issue going into November’s presidential and congressional elections. It also highlighted the potency of the National Rifle Association, which was urging its huge and fiercely loyal membership to lobby senators to oppose the Democratic bills.

“Republicans should be embarrassed, but they’re not,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who accused Republicans of “political stunts” as the debate began. “Republicans need to put the lives of innocent Americans ahead of the NRA.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Orlando shootings – in which the FBI says the American-born gunman swore allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State extremist group – show the best way to prevent attacks by extremists is to defeat such groups overseas.

“Look, no one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns or explosives,” McConnell said. He suggested that Democrats were using the day’s votes “as an opportunity to push a partisan agenda or craft the next 30-second campaign ad,” while Republicans wanted “real solutions.”

That June 20’s four roll-call votes were occurring at all was testament to the powerful political currents buffeting lawmakers after gunman Omar Mateen’s June 12 attack on a gay nightclub. The 49 victims who died made it the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, topping the string of such incidents that have punctuated recent years.

The FBI said Matteen – a focus of two terror investigations that were dropped – described himself as an Islamic soldier in a 911 call during the shootings. That let gun control advocates add national security and the specter of terrorism to their arguments for firearms curbs.

Gun control groups were also working Capitol Hill, with relatives of victims of past mass shootings and others visiting lawmakers and planning to watch the day’s debate from the Senate visitors’ gallery.

Under extraordinary pressure were GOP senators facing re-election this fall from swing states.

One, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said Monday she would vote for the Democratic measure to block gun sales to terrorists, a switch from when she joined most Republicans in killing a similar plan last December. She said that vote – plus her support for a rival GOP measure – would help move lawmakers toward approving a narrower bipartisan plan, like one being crafted by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Monday’s votes were coming after Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., led a near 15-hour filibuster last week demanding a Senate response to the Orlando killings. Murphy entered the Senate shortly after the December 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, but that slaughter and others in San Bernardino, California, and Charleston, South Carolina, have failed to spur Congress to approve gun curbs. The last were enacted in 2007, when the background check system was strengthened after that year’s mass shooting at Virginia Tech.

Because of Mateen’s self-professed loyalty to extremist groups and his 10-month inclusion on a federal terrorism watch list, proposals aimed at blocking terrorists from getting guns were in the spotlight. One proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would let the government block many gun sales to known or suspected terrorists.

People buying firearms from federally licensed gun dealers can currently be denied for several reasons, chiefly for serious crimes or mental problems. There is no specific prohibition for those on the terrorist watch list, which the FBI said in 2014 had 800,000 names on it, and no background checks are required for anyone buying guns privately online or at a gun show.

The GOP response to Feinstein was an NRA-backed plan by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. It would let the government deny a sale to a known or suspected terrorist – but only if prosecutors could convince a judge within three days that the would-be buyer was involved in terrorism.

The Feinstein and Cornyn amendments would require notification of law enforcement officials if people, like Mateen, who’d been under a terrorism investigation within the past five years were seeking to buy firearms.

Republicans said Feinstein’s proposal gave the government too much unfettered power to deny people’s constitutional right to own a gun. They also noted that the terrorist watch list has historically mistakenly included people. Democrats said the three-day window that Cornyn’s measure gave prosecutors to prove their case made his plan ineffective.

The Senate rejected similar plans Feinstein and Cornyn proposed last December, a day after the San Bernardino attack killed 14 people.

Murphy’s proposal would widely expand the requirement for background checks, even to many private gun transactions, leaving few loopholes.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would increase money for the background check system. Like Murphy’s measure, it would prod states to send more records to the FBI, which operates the background check system, of felons and others barred from buying guns.

Grassley’s proposal would also revamp language prohibiting some people with mental health issues from buying a gun. Democrats claimed that language would roll back current protections.

Separately, Collins was laboring to fashion a bipartisan bill that would prevent people on the no-fly list – with just 64,000 names in 2014 – from getting guns. There were no signs on June 20 that it was getting wide support or would receive a vote.

ATTENTION FLORIDA RESIDENTS! Florida Senator Bill Nelson is in favor of stricter gun laws, but Senator Marco  Rubio voted for the lenient measures that Nelson voted against. Call Rubio’s Orlando office at 407-872-7161, or contact him at www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact to let him know that you want stricter gun legislation.

FOR EVERYONE ELSE…

Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)
(202) 224-4944
Contact: http://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

Ayotte, Kelly – (R – NH)
(202) 224-3324
Contact: http://www.ayotte.senate.gov/?p=contact

Barrasso, John – (R – WY)
(202) 224-6441
Contact: www.barrasso.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

Blunt, Roy – (R – MO)
(202) 224-5721
Contact: www.blunt.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-roy

Boozman, John – (R – AR)
(202) 224-4843
Contact: www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Burr, Richard – (R – NC)
(202) 224-3154
Contact: www.burr.senate.gov/contact/email

Capito, Shelley Moore – (R – WV)
(202) 224-6472
Contact: www.capito.senate.gov/contact/contact-shelley

Cassidy, Bill – (R – LA)
(202) 224-5824
Contact: www.cassidy.senate.gov/contact

Coats, Daniel – (R – IN)
(202) 224-5623
Contact: www.coasts.senate.gov/contact

Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)
(202) 224-5054
Contact: www.cocohran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME)
(202) 224-2523
Contact: www.collins.senate.gov/contact

Corker, Bob – (R – TN)
(202) 224-3344
Contact: www.corker.sentate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme

Cornyn, John – (R – TX)
(202) 224-2934
Contact: www.cornyn.senate.gov/contact

Cotton, Tom – (R  – AR)
(202) 224-2353
Contact: www.cotton.senate.gov/?p=contact

Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)
(202) 224- 6142
Contact: www.crapo.senate.gov/contat/email.cfm

Cruz, Ted – (R – TX)
(202) 224-5922
Contact: www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

Daines, Steve – (R – MT)
(202) 224-2651
Contact: www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve

Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)
(202) 224-3424
Contact: http://www.enzi.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=e-mail-senator-enzi

Ernst, Joni – (R – IA)
(202) 224-3254
Contact: www.ernst.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Fischer, Deb – (R – NE)
(202) 224-6551
Contact: www.fischer.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Flake, Jeff – (R – AZ)
(202) 224-4521
Contact: www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff

Gardner, Cory – (R – CO)
(202) 224-5941
Contact: www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)
(202) 224-5972
Contact: https://www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-senator-graham

Grassley, Chuck – (R – IA)
(202) 224-3744
Contact: www.grassley.senate.gov/contact

Hatch, Orrin G. – (R – UT)
(202) 224-5251
Contact: www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=Email-Orrin

Heitkamp, Heidi – (D – ND)
(202) 224-2043
Contact: www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact

Heller, Dean – (R – NV)
(202) 224-6244
Contact: www.heller.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

Hoeven, John – (R – ND)
(202) 224-2551
Contact: www.hoeven.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator

Inhofe, James M. – (R – OK)
(202) 224-4721
Contact: www.inhofe.senate.gov/contact

Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA)
(202) 224-3643
Contact: www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

Johnson, Ron – (R – WI)
(202) 224-5323
Contact: https://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator

Lankford, James – (R – OK)
(202) 224-5754
Contact: www.lankford.senate.gov/contact/email

Lee, Mike – (R – UT)
(202) 224-5444
Contact: www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Manchin, Joe, III – (D – WV)
(202) 224-3954
Contact: www.manchin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

McCain, John – (R – AZ)
(202) 224-2235
Contact: www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

McConnell, Mitch – (R – KY)
(202) 224-2541
Contact: www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=contact

Moran, Jerry – (R – KS)
(202) 224-6521
Contact: www.moran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-jerry

Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK)
(202) 224-6665
Contact: www.murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Paul, Rand – (R – KY)
(202) 224-4343
Contact: www.paul.senate.gov/connect/email-rand

Perdue, David – (R – GA)
(202) 224-3521
Contact: www.perdue.senate.gov/connect/email

Portman, Rob – (R – OH)
(202) 224-3353
Contact: https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=contact-form

Risch, James E. – (R – ID)
(202) 224-2752
Contact: www.risch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

Rounds, Mike – (R – SD)
(202) 224-5842
Contact: www.rounds.senate.gov/contact/email-mike

Sasse, Ben – (R – NE)
(202) 224-4224
Contact: www.sasse.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-ben

Scott, Tim – (R – SC)
(202) 224-6121
Contact: www.scott.senate.gov/contact/email-me

Sessions, Jeff – (R – AL)
(202) 224-4124
Contact: www.sessions.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff

Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL)
(202) 224-5744
Contact: www.shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailsenatorshelby

Sullivan, Daniel – (R – AK)
(202) 224-3004
Contact: www.sullivan.senate.gov/contact/email

Tester, Jon – (D – MT)
(202) 224-2644
Contact: www.tester.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

Thune, John – (R – SD)
(202) 224-2321
Contact: www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Tillis, Thom – (R – NC)
(202) 224-6342
Contact: http://www.tillis.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me

Toomey, Patrick J. – (R – PA)
(202) 224-4254
Contact: http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=contact

Vitter, David – (R – LA)
(202) 224-4623
Contact: www.vitter.senate.gov/contact

Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS)
(202) 224-6253
Contact: http://www.wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Share this story: