The Senate yesterday voted 68-31 to start debate on a gun control package (S.659) that includes expanded background checks and new penalties for gun trafficking. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and others were organizing a filibuster to stall debate and sixteen members of his own party voted against him. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Machin (D-WV) put together language that is expected to replace the current bill.
Which no one has read, and yet 16 Republican senators voted against the filibuster.
The Heritage Foundation wrote yesterday that the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin bill “fuzzes up” the current federal law that prohibits a federal gun registry. The creation of a registry has been the primary concern with background checks, not necessarily the background checks themselves.
David S. Addington at Heritage writes:
First, the legislation says that nothing in the legislation shall be construed to allow establishment of a federal firearms registry. In addition, it says that the Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize records of firearms acquisition and disposition maintained by licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers, and by buyers and sellers at gun shows (and makes it a crime for him to do so).
But then, the STM bill takes those protections away by using the all-powerful word “notwithstanding”—”notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Attorney General may implement this subsection with regulations.” The courts may construe the “notwithstanding” to allow Attorney General Eric Holder to issue regulations that could begin to create a federal registry of firearms, because the law says he can implement the subsection without regard to the protections against a registry elsewhere in the legislation. (read the rest)
The fact that this legislation was not going to be read was the primary reason the filibuster was planned as Senators Paul, Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) explained in a joint statement yesterday morning:
This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better.
Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.
Here are the Republicans Senators who voted to infringe on your right to keep and bear arms.
- Lindsey Graham (SC) (202) 224-5972
- Lamar Alexander (TN) (202) 224-4944
- Kelly Ayotte (NH) (202) 224-3324
- Richard Burr (NC) (202) 224-3154
- Saxby Chambliss (GA) (202) 224-3521
- John McCain (AZ) (202) 224-2235
- Tom Coburn (OK) (202) 224-5754
- Susan Collins (ME) (202) 224-2523
- Bob Corker (TN) (202) 224-3344
- Jeff Flake (AZ) (202) 224-4521
- John Hoeven (ND) (202) 224-2551
- Johnny Isakson (GA) (202) 224-3643
- Dean Heller (NV) (202) 224-6244
- Mark Kirk (IL) (202) 224-2854
- Pat Toomey (PA) (202) 224-4254
- Roger Wicker (MS) (202) 224-6253
If I lived in their state I’d be on the phone right now. I will be calling Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) who voted to start debate as well, but it will be wasted breath.
Photo Credit: TexasGOPVote.com via Flickr (CC By 2.0)