Gun-control advocates will double-team the Hill next week as families of victims in last week’s Santa Monica College shooting join Newtown families for a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The Santa Monica gunman who killed five, John Zawahiri, was kicked out of a continuation high school in 2006 for “disturbing behaviors” centering “around his discussion of weapons and violence,” the Los Angeles Times reported today. Police officials said the 23-year-old carried an AR-15 and .44 revolver and had 40 magazines packed with 30 rounds each strapped to his body and in a bag he was carrying.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) laughed talking to reporters yesterday on the Hill when asked if there’s “a snowball’s chance” of gun-control being successfully revived in the House.
“I’m very doubtful what with the House leadership has any intention of bringing a bill to the floor. I think that’s unfortunate. I think background checks — 85 to 90 percent of Americans believe that having a background check for somebody to purchase a weapon makes common sense. The NRA supported it 10 years ago and, opposes it now. I don’t know what their rationalization is. I’m sure they have one,” Hoyer said.
When asked about the meeting with victims’ families, Hoyer said he believes Boehner is “an empathetic person.”
“I mean I think that you know he’s not a hard-hearted person. I think these folks have sustained a loss, they want to meet with the Speaker and I think it shows respect for them that he will listen to them. But I don’t know that they will move him to action,” Hoyer said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said recently that he wants to revive gun control in the upper chamber.
“Every single time something like this happens, I think this does give us wind at our back,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on MSNBC after the Santa Monica shooting.
“Whether it’s with staunch opponents or senators on the fence, they can be powerfully persuasive, and show that this bill is very much alive and well,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said on the visit by victims’ families. “We’re not standing down. The bill will be brought back. The majority leader has promised that it will be. And I think we’ll have another vote before the end of the year.”
Hoyer said he presumed the Republican appointed to temporarily fill the seat of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, will support gun control.
“Which means that Senator Reed still needs to get five additional votes. I don’t know whether he can do that, I hope he can. I commend him for bringing it back up and, I think it makes sense,” he added. “And I would hope we would move it here, but I don’t see any indication, Republican leadership being that Mr. Boehner or, Mr. Cantor or Mr. Goodlatte — I guess that this committee would be in each committee has any intention of doing so. So we’ll see.”
Appreciate @govchristie‘s thoughtful choice for senator. Gabby and I are hopeful we can work with Sen Chiesa to expand background checks.
— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) June 6, 2013
Gun-rights activists submitted a petition on Monday to initiate the first recall election of a state lawmaker in Colorado’s history for his support of laws restricting firearms.
If the Colorado secretary of state validates at least 7,200 of the more than 16,000 signatures submitted, state Senate President John Morse, a Democrat, would face a recall. The move is being watched nationally by both sides of the gun-control debate.
This clown-car effort in Colorado is already costing the state some business and has many speculating that it could turn the state from the purplish it’s been the last few elections back to something a bit more red. It was an overreaching effort that featured some nonsensical “reasoning” by Morse and his ilk.
Should the signatures be validated it’s probably a lock that any opposition candidate will have some NRA fund raising resources of which to avail him or herself.
Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed Monday that the administration is raring to sign the controversial UN Arms Trade Treaty.
Delegates from other nations began signing the regulatory document today. The treaty was approved by the General Assembly on April 2.
Obama reversed the course of the George W. Bush administration in October 2009, supporting negotiations at the UN for the Arms Trade Treaty that began in 2001 with the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Lawmakers and lobbyists have expressed alarm that the treaty, which aims to regulate international trade in conventional weapons, threatens the right to bear arms as well as U.S. sovereignty.
“The United States welcomes the opening of the Arms Trade Treaty for signature, and we look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” Kerry said today.
“The Treaty is an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights. The Treaty will require the parties to implement strict controls, of the kind the United States already has in place, on the international transfer of conventional arms to prevent their diversion and misuse and create greater international cooperation against black market arms merchants. The ATT will not undermine the legitimate international trade in conventional weapons, interfere with national sovereignty, or infringe on the rights of American citizens, including our Second Amendment rights,” he continued.
“We commend the Presidents of the two UN negotiating conferences – Roberto Garcia Moritan of Argentina and Peter Woolcott of Australia –for their leadership in bringing this agreement to fruition. We also congratulate all the states that helped achieve an effective, implementable Treaty that will reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes.”
Ratification of the treaty, even if the U.S. signs it, is another matter.
Last week, 130 members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama and Kerry urging them to stand against the treaty.
“As your review of the treaty continues, we strongly encourage your administration to recognize its textual, inherent and procedural flaws, to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, and to defend the sovereignty of the United States, and thus to decide not to sign this treaty,” the lawmakers wrote.
The Illinois legislature has complied with an appeals court ruling that their concealed carry ban was unconstitutional. Governor Quinn hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the bill or not, but the bill had enough votes to override a veto.
The new law instructs the Illinois State Police to issue a carry permit to law-abiding Illinois residents who pass the required 16-hour training and pay a $150 fee (shall-issue law). Gun owner must also have a state-issued Firearms Owner Identification card (FOID) to buy a gun in Illinois. Recently, there have been a record number FOID applications each month, leading to a backlog as police try to process them all. Meanwhile, the University of Chicago ignores their own back yard and continues insisting that gun ownership is declining.
Adding up the expense of buying a carry gun, $10 FOID fee, training class, and $150 application fee, Valinda Rowe, of the group Illinois Carry, expressed concern that this law will deprive poor people from the ability to partake of their civil right of self-defense.
It’s this latter group of people who may need concealed carry the most. Despite inclement weather, Chicago gangs shot eight more people between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. According to BET:
Chicago’s murder rate is widely considered to be fueled by the drug wars that are fought between the city’s network of gangs. The homicide rate has been largely confined to the city’s south and west areas, African-American bastions of Chicago.
The new carry law is a step forward, but it nevertheless is a gun control law, controlling how and where law-abiding citizens can legally carry. It contains a clause saving Chicago’s “assault weapons” ban. It raises the financial bar for those who want to carry legally, maintaining the imbalance of power in favor of those who ignore laws.
Once again, gun control is shown to be racist. These gangsters didn’t wait for a law to be passed before carrying concealed firearms. Blood’s already running in the streets of Chicago, despite it having the strictest gun control laws in the country. Those suffering the most, poorer American’s of African descent living in Chicago, risk being barred once again from their right to keep and bear arms.
An email this morning from Organizing for Action to supporters:
This is just adorable in every way.
Myles, a 7-year-old from Milwaukee, wrote Vice President Biden a letter to suggest that if guns shot chocolate bullets, no one would get hurt.
The Vice President wrote back. Take a look at his response, then share it with your friends:
Dear Myles –
I am sorry it took me so very long to respond to your letter.
I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate.
You are a good boy.
– Joe Biden
Guessing a chocolate bullet would still leave a good bruise – paintballs do, and they aren’t even solid like chocolate.
Connecticut’s senior senator tried to rally gun-control supporters in Newtown last night, telling them the upper chamber needs to go beyond the Manchin-Toomey background check compromise and ban assault weapons.
Both failed as amendments to the broader gun-control package last month.
“Last month, the Senate failed to advance common sense solutions to reduce gun violence when 45 Senators sided with the NRA and special interests against the interests of 90 percent of Americans. That vote was shameful, and one of the lowest points in my career in public service. I am outraged, but not discouraged. We cannot allow special interests to block the will of 90 percent of Americans,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told residents at Newtown High School.
The forum hosted by Newtown Action Alliance was titled “What’s Next for Gun Safety? Understanding and Uniting the Broad Middle.” The senator was joined by Virginia Tech shooting survivor and Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence activist Colin Goddard, President and CEO of the National Gun Victim’s Action Council Elliot Fineman, and Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Josh Horwitz.
“I will continue to push for common sense legislation that will make our streets and schools safer and keep guns away from those who wish to harm innocent victims. That means continuing to fight until we pass background check legislation, ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, address the difficult issues within our mental health system, and until we close the loopholes that allow for gun trafficking in our communities,” Blumenthal said.
“Your voices, voices of Newtown and gun violence victims nationwide have been vital to this effort – and those voices must get louder so that those who oppose common sense legislation will clearly hear the will of the people,” he continued. “I look forward to continuing to fight alongside you until we get this done. We owe it to the victims of Sandy Hook, the nearly 4,000 innocent victims of gun violence since then, and the 90 percent of Americans who are counting on Congress to do no less.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), stinging over the defeat of gun-control legislation, called new NRA president Jim Porter “really kind of the wing nuts’ wing nut.”
“And he exposes what the NRA has really become. I mean, the NRA kind of announced this weekend they’re morphing into a paramilitary group, that essentially they’re going to be advocating for armed resistance to the U.S. government,” Murphy said last night on MSNBC.
“A new citizen paramilitary force is a pretty nice business model for the gun industry. So, when you got an NRA president going out there and saying we need to arm Americans in order to fight our government, well, that sells a lot more guns and that means more dues into the NRA and that means a little bit bigger budget to play with,” Murphy continued
“So, I think this is just what the NRA has become. It’s not a gun safety organization. It’s not an instructional organization. It is now a voice for the gun industry and the gun industry needs a handful of citizens to buy a whole mess of guns in order to stay solvent. I think that their choice of this radical new leader is kind of a signal that’s a direction that they’re permanently headed in.”
The junior senator from Connecticut called the efforts of states such as Alabama and Kansas to nullify laws seen as in violation of the Second Amendment “laughable.”
“It’s laughable also because it’s a total bastardization of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is not an absolute right. It’s not a God-given right. It has always had conditions upon it, just like the First Amendment has,” Murphy said. “And this idea that the Second Amendment was put in there in order to allow citizens to fight their government is insane. If that was the case, we wouldn’t have also included treason in the United States Constitution. We basically said if you take arms up against the government, we’re going to knock your block off. And that’s what the early presidents ended up doing in the Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion.”
“So, the Second Amendment is not designed to allow the citizenry to arm itself against the government and nullification is just another example of states not understanding the true nature of that amendment.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said his background check compromise with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) can pass if they “make some adjustments to it and find out where the comfort zone is.”
The failure of the compromise on the Senate floor as the first amendment to Harry Reid’s broader gun-control package prompted Reid to yank his bill from the floor.
“But what we need to do, really, is be out and educate the law-abiding gun owners like myself, people that might belong to the NRA or other gun organizations but don’t believe this is a threat to their Second Amendment,” Manchin said this morning on CBS.
“We have some people that were concerned it might infringe on any family transfers, and it doesn’t at all. But we’re going to clarify that language. So anytime that you transfer to family, whether it’s directly or online, it would be basically not subjected to the background check, because that’s a personal transaction with a family member. What we’ve done, is we’ve separated it. You have private, and you have, basically, personal, private, and you have commercial. If you’re going to go to a commercial, whether it be background — to a gun show, gun store or online, it should have background check,” the senator continued.
Manchin called slams against his bill at the past weekend’s NRA convention “just not true.”
“If they just look at the face value of this bill, this bill does things they tried to do for 20 years. And, basically, it treats a law-abiding gun owner like myself and a lot of my friends in the NRA, treats them the way they should be treated, as a law-abiding gun owner,” he said, noting that he “did” have an A rating from the NRA.
“I’m frustrated with any organization that basically is saying things — and what they’re doing, is they’re rattling the cage, if you will, saying, ‘Well, if they do this, they’re going to do this. It’s a first step.’”
A New York Democrat wants to revise gun laws to encompass a downloadable plastic gun produced on a 3-D printer.
On Friday, Defense Distributed premiered its plastic firearm with only one small necessary metal part: the firing pin.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) wants to pour water on this invention with his Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which extends a 1988 ban on plastic guns that expires this year and extends it to include homemade, plastic high-capacity magazines and receivers. The piece of metal in the downloadable gun, which allows it to be spotted by metal detectors, keeps it within current law.
“Security checkpoints, background checks, and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser. When I started talking about the issue of plastic firearms months ago, I was told the idea of a plastic gun is science-fiction. Now that this technology appears to be upon us, we need to act now to extend the ban on plastic firearms,” Israel said.
Israel “revamped” his bill to make it “illegal to manufacture, own, transport, buy, or sell any firearm, receiver, or magazine that is homemade and not detectable by metal detector and/or does not present an accurate image when put through an x-ray machine.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was so alarmed by Friday’s demonstration video of the downloadable gun that he called a Sunday news conference to jump on board Israel’s bill.
“We’re facing a situation where anyone — a felon, a terrorist — can open a gun factory in their garage, and the weapons they make will be undetectable,” Schumer said. “It’s stomach churning.”
The senator clarified he doesn’t want to ban 3-D printers outright.
See update on next page.
Connecticut’s senior senator accused National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre of making “offensive remarks” at this weekend’s NRA conference in Houston.
“Yesterday, when NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said of the organization’s critics ‘let them be damned,’ he was talking to 90 percent of Americans who support criminal background checks and other common sense gun violence prevention measures. His remarks disgrace the organization and its members – most of them supporters of expanding background checks,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a statement.
“LaPierre also callously claimed that the horrific tragedy in Newtown was used to ‘shame’ the organization. The truth is that the NRA shames itself by misleading the American public and its membership about the need for sensible gun safety measures, and working to block such measures at all costs.”
“We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation fight for everything we care about. We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation, or to lose it forever,” LaPierre said Saturday, noting that NRA membership was up 5 percent since Newtown.
“We must remain vigilant, ever resolute, and steadfastly growing and preparing for the even more critical battles that loom before us,” he said.
After gun-control failed to make it to the Senate floor following the defeat of key amendments, Blumenthal has been trying to keep it in the news as the focus of the upper chamber has shifted to immigration reform.
“I will continue to stand and work with victims of gun violence, law enforcement officials, and responsible gun owners to push for measures that keep our families and communities safe,” he said. “The offensive remarks made this weekend by LaPierre and other top leaders of the NRA will only cause us to redouble our efforts for common sense reform.”
Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world’s first entirely 3D-printable handgun.
Now he has.
Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator,” pictured in its initial form above. He’s agreed to let me document the process of the gun’s creation, so long as I don’t publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it’s been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed’s online collection of printable gun blueprints at Defcad.org.
The Liberator does include two metal pieces, a nail to act as the firing pin and a six-ounce piece of steel to make it detectable by metal detectors. The other 16 parts were printed in ABS plastic and according to Wilson, will be available online at Defcad.org next week. It has interchangeable barrels so that it can fire multiple calibers of standard handgun ammunition. Wilson has his federal firearms license, and added the steel to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, so everything he has done to date complies with firearms law.
And yet, the printed gun may change everything.
Organizing for Action is planning on delivering petitions to Congress next week demanding that gun legislation be brought up again.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yanked his bill after the failure of amendments dampened its chances of passing.
“Two weeks ago, 45 senators sided with the gun lobby and voted to block the expansion of background checks for gun sales. Every single one of those senators expects the issue to fade away — that, over time, we’ll all forget,” President Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, wrote in an email to supporters. “We won’t, and next week, OFA will hand congressional leaders physical proof of it: the names of hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t backing down.”
The email redirected to a petition form on the OFA site:
To: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
The vast majority of Americans from all corners of the country are united in support of expanded background checks for gun sales. I’m calling on you to listen to the American people and act to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It will make our communities and schools safer. Please take action to expand background checks today.
“I’ve spent enough time in Washington to know that the way you win a fight like this, faced with some of the most powerful special interests, is just to refuse to give up,” Messina added.
When asked at this week’s press conference if his second-term agenda, including gun control, had lost juice, Obama wryly quipped, “Maybe I should just pack up and go home. Golly.”
“Republicans control the House of Representatives. In the Senate, this habit of requiring 60 votes for even the most modest piece of legislation has gummed up the works there,” he said. “And I think it comes to no surprise, not even to the American people, but even members of Congress themselves that right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill.”
The New Orleans Police Department posted this amazing video Monday.
According to the write-up:
On Saturday, 4/27/13 at or about 5:05AM, the victim was walking in the 1900 block of Burgundy when he was approached by an unknown black male. The subject pointed a shotgun at the victim’s face and stated give me your money. The victim disarmed the gunman and then chased him. Moments later the victim was approached by two black males in a black four door sedan (possibly a Honda Accord). The driver of the vehicle said to the victim “give me my gun back and I’ll give you your phone that you dropped”. The victim then used the shotgun to strike the rear windshield of the vehicle causing it to break. The two subjects then fled on Frenchmen to St. Claude and then unknown. The gunman was described as a black male, approximately 16-20 years of age, 6’00″ tall with a thin build wearing a black hat and a black t-shirt.
President Obama, according to his own telling, would have passed a gun control bill supported by nearly every American, but the National Rifle Association drove in trucks full of money and lobbyists, buying off senators.
Obama’s story isn’t true. The NRA doesn’t work like the lobbies Obama is coziest with. And the NRA also wasn’t the tip of the spear in the gun-rights fight this month. Here is the way things really went down:
The gun-rights resistance on Capitol Hill began in late March with two first-term Tea Party senators declaring they would filibuster consideration of the gun-control bill. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wrote a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid explaining they would oppose invoking cloture on the “motion to proceed” to the bill. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., soon joined them.
That rump of three senators expanded to a platoon of 18 who eventually signed onto the letter. In the end, 29 Republicans and two Democrats opposed proceeding to the bill — well short of the 41 needed for a filibuster. Many allies criticized this failed filibuster, but its leaders argue it was crucial to eventual victory.
Remember kids, this is a movement that according to the Left and the status quo mongers in the GOP would have you believe it’s dead, What it is, however, is an actual movement. That means it has progressed from its big rally roots to the political activism phase and, fortunately, some of those elected as Tea Party candidates are behaving as such. Yes, the NRA did help but the Obama story about it being this all-powerful lobby that makes Republican members of Congress dance like puppets on a string simply isn’t true.
And we should all be used to that from him now.
Kids, don’t try this stunt at home. Texas has the Castle Doctrine. If young Sara Soto had been holding anything in her hands that could have been construed as a deadly weapon, despite the fact that she wasn’t wearing a thing and no matter how good you think you look not wearing a thing, and had the homeowners been armed and jumpy, this past Tuesday could have been her last. Hiding out naked in a stranger’s bathtub is just no way to go out, friends.
A naked woman broke into a house through the doggy door before being found by the owners sitting in their bathtub, police said.
Sara Elizabeth Soto, 25, was busted hiding out au naturel in the Weatherford, Texas, home bathroom at 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday.
And when cops questioned why she was wearing only her smile, she told them she honestly didn’t believe she had done anything wrong.
Sara Soto is reportedly all of 4’11″ and weighs 110 pounds, so she is not your typical home invader. She not only entered the strange abode unarmed, she entered it unclothed. Again, atypical of home-invasion scenarios. She did all this at about 1:45 in the morning. The stories about her adventure don’t mention the role that chemicals may have played, but this blogger strongly suspects that some chemicals played more than a cameo role.
A couple of questions come to mind. At some point that night the 25-year-old woman was standing outside a stranger’s door and could not get into the house using any of the usual means — unlock it with a key, knock, ring the doorbell, etc. So she decided to try the doggy door. The doggy door is not generally considered the proper way for one to enter a house. Apparently she decided that the black dress she was wearing was an encumbrance, as were her undergarments, supposing she wasn’t out on the town commando style. So she took all of them off on the porch, left them outside, and then went into the house which wasn’t hers through the doggy door and then made her way to the stranger’s bathtub.
At what point did any of this strike her as a good idea?
And the second question: What’s Miss Soto’s commenter handle over at Ace of Spades?
*a subjective term intended to spice up this post’s headline.
Connecticut’s senators are weighing their next gun-control steps after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yanked the bill in the wake of the failure of key amendments.
And they’ve admitted they’re discussing how the Boston terrorist attack plays into their effort.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris Murphy (D) drew criticism during the gun-control debate for having families from the Newtown shooting at press conferences, lobbying on Capitol Hill, and filling the gallery during votes.
Tomorrow, the pair have media availabilities at a legislative office in Hartford and a high school in Bridgeport — complete with students — to discuss “the path forward” for gun-control legislation.
In the Hartford meeting, according to Blumenthal’s office, they’ll be “addressing the ramifications of the Senate vote on gun violence legislation, filibuster reform, and the impact of the Boston bombing on the continued legislative effort.”
Gun-control proponents decried the 60-vote threshold for amendments that doomed most add-ons including the Manchin-Toomey substitute language on background checks.
At Bridgeport’s Bassick High School, “the senators will join Connecticut Against Violence and 700 Bridgeport students for a forum on the negative impacts of gun violence.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning that the legislation will likely be resurrected soon.
“I think we’re going to bring this bill back before the end of the year and I think you may find some changes,” said Schumer. “Lots of senators who thought it was safe to vote against it are not so sure any more.”
A dozen members of the Texas congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to three gun manufacturers urging them to pack up and move operations to the Lone Star State.
The members drafted the letter after a Connecticut-based rifle manufacturer, PTR-Precision Technologies Inc., announced would move 40 jobs out of the state due to “unintended consequences” of newly passed gun control legislation there.
The invitation to come to Texas was extended by GOP Reps. Joe Barton, John Carter, Mike Conaway, Blake Farenthold, Ralph Hall, Sam Johnson, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Sessions, Lamar Smith, Steve Stockman, Randy Weber and Roger Williams.
It was sent to PTR-Precision and New Haven-based firms The Marlin Firearms Company and The Mossberg Corporation.
“In Texas, we are committed to protecting our right under the constitution to own and use guns …The business-friendly environment in Texas prompted CEO Magazine to name Texas the best state in the nation for doing business, eight years in a row. Texas lawmakers have paved the way for business through reasonable regulations, low taxes, a skilled workforce, cutting-edge infrastructure and the advantage of being a right to work state,” the letter states.
“…We encourage you to relocate to Texas, where we can provide a business-friendly environment that encourages innovation and understands the right to bear arms. We look forward to calling y’all Texans!”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) accused President Obama by taking the low road with his press conference after yesterday’s gun-control amendment votes.
“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said in a long denouncing of his opponents in the Rose Garden.
“[I] say this more with sadness than anger — I watched the president of the United States say it was a pretty shameful day for Washington on the national news. That was yesterday. And I agree but for different reasons than the president himself articulated,” Cornyn said today on the Senate floor.
“When good and honest people have honest differences of opinion about what policies our country should pursue when it comes to the Second Amendment and gun rights and mass gun violence, the president of the United States should not accuse them of having no coherent arguments or caving to the pressure,” he said. “The president could have taken the high road, could have said, ‘Ok now that we have been unsuccessful in these measures, let’s move on to area where we know there is consensus, and that has to do with the mental health element in so many of these mass gun tragedies.’ But instead, he chose to take the low road. And I agree with him, it was a truly shameful day.”
Cornyn said he’s not beholden to gun-rights lobbyists, but to his constituents.
“And no, those of us who did not agree with the president’s proposals are not being intimidated, as he said yesterday. And it’s false — it’s absolutely false to say it comes down to politics, as he said,” the senator continued.
“Instead of calling the president names and taking the low road, like he did yesterday, and chastising my fellow senators for their good-faith disagreement and the best policies to pursue in order to make sure these families’ loss was not in vain, I’m here to ask for his help. I’m here to ask for every Members’ help, to try to make sure that we actually continue to look for measures that we might be able to get behind to actually make things better, that would have offered up a solution to some of these problems.”
Following his Tuesday promise to try to get his wife’s friend Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) booted from office if he didn’t vote for gun control, former astronaut Mark Kelly took to badgering the senator on Twitter today.
@jeffflake heard u say on FOX “I think all of us want to keep guns out of the hand of criminals & those with mental illness. We can do it.”
— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) April 18, 2013
@jeffflake I’m confused, friend. You had that chance yesterday. Want to rethink and join me and Gabby in making Arizona safer?
— Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) April 18, 2013
Flake sat next to Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and helped her to her feet every time she wanted to join in a standing ovation for President Obama at the 2012 State of the Union. When Giffords stepped down from Congress the next day, Flake stood by her side and held her hand.
Kelly acknowledged Flake is a “good friend” of Giffords, but said they would both work to throw him under the bus if he voted against the background-check compromise.
“If there was the right candidate out there and [Flake] didn’t support this legislation, … you know friendship is one thing … saving people’s lives, especially first-graders’, is another,” Kelly told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
Sen. Flake on those vowing political consequences for no vote on backd checks: “That’s the beauty of a 6-year term.”
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) April 18, 2013
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) charged senators who shot down gun-control amendments with ignoring “everybody in America from every state.”
“The forces that worked to defeat this amendment became so obsessed with the defeating any commonsense reforms whatsoever, they lost sight of the big picture. The big picture sometimes is little pictures. People like Jessica when to watch a movie and was gunned down in Aurora, Colorado. Families I met today from Newtown, beautiful little children were murdered. This is just the beginning,” Reid told reporters.
The senator said “time and time again on issue after issue,” Republicans put their “short-term political goals and interests” above the interests of “mainstream America.”
“The American people are awake, alert, paying attention, they’re not going to stand for this forever, what just took place,” Reid continued.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the names of GOP Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.), Susan Collins (Maine), John McCain (Ariz.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) “need to placed on record as four who stood up for sensible gun safety laws in America.”
“Those of us who know our form of government know it is not the end. There is more that we can do and will do reaching out to convince those members who voted the other way today and perhaps in the next election to challenge them, to bring the issue forward to the American people that this is worth a fight,” Durbin said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said “brute political force won out over what is right and America will be a less safe place because of it.”
“Things change quickly here in Washington. They’ve changed for gay marriage. They’re changing for immigration and they will change for gun safety sooner than you think,” he predicted.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the votes “probably the saddest day of my years in public life.”
“The hardest part was to try to look these families in the eye and explain to them how 90 percent of the American people can be on their side and the United States Senator failed to reach 60 votes,” he said. “I haven’t the words yet.”
On every defeated gun amendment today, more Democrats voted on the gun-rights side than Republicans crossed to the gun-control side. Fifteen Dems voted against Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) assault weapons ban. Ten voted against an amendment to limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
Liberal ire was particularly strong against the four Democrats who voted against the Toomey-Manchin background check compromise: Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Mark Pryor (Ark.).
Heitkamp on her votes: “I’ve been adamant from the very beginning of this conversation that the focus should be on mental health issues, full and accurate reporting into the NICS database and ensuring that we are prosecuting criminals in possession of or trying to possess firearms. This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands. I commend Senators Manchin and Toomey for working so hard to bring a serious bill to the floor. However, in its current form I do not see a path for my support. I’ve thought long and hard about this, I’ve taken the tough meetings, and I’ve heard overwhelmingly from the people of North Dakota; and at the end of the day my duty is to listen to and represent the people of North Dakota.”
Senator Heidi Heitkamp of N Dakota – democrat who voted no on gun control today – Disappointed Heidi – voters say NO 2 u on Election Day
— Rosie O’Donnell (@Rosie) April 17, 2013
We expect Republicans to vote stupid but these Democrats joined them against Gun Reform: Max Baucus, Heidi Heitkamp, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich
— From A Citizen (@CuestionMarque) April 18, 2013
Take the pledge: not one red cent to the #DSCC unless they announce Pryor (AR), Begich (AK) and Heitkamp (ND) won’t receive party support.
— Blue Texan (@BlueTexanTweets) April 18, 2013
We know who you areYou are WHORESYou WILL be publicly shamedSen Max Aucus MTSen Mark Bergich AKSen Heidi Heitkamp NDSen Mark Pryor AR
— Michelle Clifford (@sleazoidexpress) April 18, 2013
Democrats who voted against the amendment, Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) April 18, 2013
— Eric Kees (@N7HWW) April 18, 2013
An emotional President Obama accused the gun-rights lobby of spreading “lies” about the Manchin-Toomey background check amendment and other gun-control amendments that failed in the Senate this afternoon.
“Ninety percent of Americans support that idea,” he said of universal background checks. “Most Americans think that’s already the law. And a few minutes ago 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.”
Obama lauded Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) “for their courage” in the deal that increased background checks but wasn’t the universal extension many Democrats wanted. “That was not easy, given their traditional strong support for Second Amendment rights,” the president said.
“But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of big brother gun registry even though the bill did the opposite,” Obama said. “…And, unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose. Because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.”
He said he’d talked to senators who “come from states that are strongly pro-gun” and understood “regional differences when it comes to guns.”
“But the fact is, most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics. The worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment. And obviously a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure. And they started looking for an excuse, any excuse to vote no,” Obama continued.
“…If action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand, if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try. And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.”
The president then lashed out at observations that the victims and families of gun violence were being used as media props in the debate. “‘Emotional blackmail,’ some outlets said. Are they serious? Do we really think thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?” Obama said.
He decried today as “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
“So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington. And that requires strength. And it requires persistence. And that’s the one thing that these families should have inspired in all of us,” Obama said. “I still don’t know how they have been able to muster up the strength to do what they’ve been doing over the last several weeks — the last several months. And I see this as just round one.”
Senators who support veterans rights took another stab at trying to defend the due process rights of those who have served our country.
Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-N.C.) Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act would have guaranteed veterans due process rights in having their ability to own a gun stripped away.
It failed this afternoon 56-44.
Currently, veterans who have a VA-appointed fiduciary to help them with their benefits are deemed “mentally defective” and are reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The amendment would have required that a judicial authority determine that VA beneficiaries pose a danger to themselves or others before they can be added to the database that would prevent them from owning a gun.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, crossed over to add his yes vote to the amendment.
Needing a 60-vote threshold, though, even the handful of Democrats and Independents who lent their support wasn’t enough to push the amendment over the top. In addition to Sanders, those were Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Angus King (Maine), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Max Baucus (Mont.).
As of July 12, 2012, there were over 129,000 VA beneficiaries who had been reported to NICS, stripping them of their constitutional rights simply because VA appointed a fiduciary to act on their behalf, according to Burr’s office. A fiduciary is assigned to handle disability compensation, pension benefits, survivors’ compensation, and other VA payments on behalf of a veteran, surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent.
“Depriving someone of a constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same treatment under the law as all other American citizens,” Burr said.
“…Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect.”
With Vice President Joe Biden presiding in the Senate, the Toomey-Manchin compromise on background checks failed as the first amendment of gun control legislation.
Sixty votes were needed for passage on the amendment, which fell 54-46. After the vote, a woman in the gallery yelled “Shame on you!”
Four Democrats voted “no”: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted no at the end of the voting as a procedural move that allows him to bring the bill back later.
Four Republicans voted “yes”: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
“If you committed to protecting Second Amendment rights you should vote for this bill,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pleaded with his colleagues before the vote.
“If you want to remember those 20 babies… please consider you should vote for this bill.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has offered a substitute amendment, stood up in “strong” opposition to the amendment, saying it would snowball into federal gun registration.
“Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown,” Grassley said. “Criminals do not submit to background checks now, they will not submit to expanded background checks.”
“This amendment would start us down that road of registration,” he added.
The Grassley amendment failed 52-48, even with the assist of several Democrats: Begich, Baucus, Heitkamp, Pryor, Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Seven more amendments to the gun bill are on the Senate agenda this afternoon.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), absent from the upper chamber for weeks, appeared in a wheelchair today to cast votes. He voted “yes” on Manchin-Toomey as his Democratic colleagues applauded.
“I did what I thought was the right thing for our country. I sought out a compromise position that I thought could move the ball forward on an important matter of public safety. My only regret is that our amendment did not pass,” Toomey said in a statement after the vote.
“It’s not the outcome I hoped for, but the Senate has spoken on the subject, and it’s time to move on,” the Pennsylvania Republican added. “We have a lot of other very important issues to deal with such as getting the economy back on track, dealing with the debt ceiling and creating more jobs for Pennsylvanians.”
“Although I am disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote for a commonsense measure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while protecting our Second Amendment rights, this is not the end of the debate,” Manchin said. “I thank Senator Pat Toomey, along with Senators Mark Kirk and Chuck Schumer, for their support on working toward a balanced approach to fix our culture of mass violence. Moving forward, I am hopeful that my colleagues and I can work together as we remember all the families who have suffered from senseless acts of violence across America. If we muster just one ounce of the courage these families have shown, then we, as a legislative body, can truly make a difference.”
Former astronaut Mark Kelly indicated this morning he’d throw under the bus a good friend of his wife’s, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), if he didn’t vote their way on gun control.
Flake sat next to Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and helped her to her feet every time she wanted to join in a standing ovation for President Obama at the 2012 State of the Union. When Giffords stepped down from Congress the next day, Flake stood by her side and held her hand.
But that friendship appeared to have little meaning to Kelly this morning as he spoke at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
Flake voted for cloture last week to begin debate on the gun-control bill. Yesterday, he posted a statement on his Facebook page saying he would oppose the background check amendment being offered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
“Manchin-Toomey would expand background checks far beyond commercial sales to include almost all private transfers – including between friends and neighbors – if the posting or display of the ad for a firearm was made public. It would likely even extend to message boards, like the one in an office kitchen. This simply goes too far,” Flake said.
“I support background checks. In fact, I believe background checks need to be strengthened, particularly as they relate to those with mental illness. To this end I’ve cosponsored S.480 with Senators Graham, Begich, and Pryor clarifying who should not be able to obtain a firearm due to mental illness. I believe our approach is preferable, and more workable, than the mental illness provisions in Manchin-Toomey,” the senator continued.
Kelly acknowledged Flake is a “good friend” of Giffords, but said they would both work to oust Flake from office if he votes against the background-check compromise.
“If there was the right candidate out there and [Flake] didn’t support this legislation, … you know friendship is one thing … saving people’s lives, especially first-graders’, is another,” Kelly told reporters.
“Senator Flake’s timing for his posting to his Facebook was not ideal in my opinion,” he added.
Kelly and Giffords started a PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, this year to push for gun control.
“There are a lot of US senators that are just looking for a reason to get to no. And I experienced this personally last night when I was shown the Facebook posting of Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Gabby’s good friend,” Kelly said, adding “when I explain to him in person why his concerns with this bill are unfounded, I think we can get him to come around.”
Around noon, I got off a half-hour conference call with Senator Pat Toomey about his amendment to the Schumer gun control bill. (I’m a Pennsylvania Republican State Committee person, and that’s who was on the call.)
I’ll summarize what Toomey said, and the questions he answered. (I took notes, but I don’t type fast enough to get everything verbatim. Where I use quotation marks, I believe I captured it accurately.) At the end, I’ll weigh in with my latest thinking on this measure.
Sen. Toomey started by reminding us of his long commitment to the 2nd Amendment, personal gun ownership and his ‘A’ rating from the NRA.
About the Toomey-Manchin amendment, he said, “the way the story broke gave an opportunity for a great deal of inaccurate and completely wrong information to get out.”
Toomey said he got involved with this measure because “there are some people very hostile to the 2nd amendment trying to advance an agenda.” He believes the legislation reinforces the rights of law-abiding citizens, and “a reasonable measure to make it more difficult for criminals and mentally-insane individuals who are dangerous is sensible.” Later he called it, “just a common sense way to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place.”
“It is my strongly-held view,” Toomey said, “that expanding the background checks does not undermine or infringe anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights,” noting that he supported background checks as a Congressman in 1999.
He outlined the Toomey-Manchin amendment, which includes incentives for states to provide information they already have to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) because it currently has inconsistent and incomplete data. He said that the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter had a history that would have prevented him purchasing handguns, but that data was not in the national database. He acknowledged that the shooter might have found another way to get a gun if he had been denied at the gun store counter, but that it would have prevented his purchase “on that day.”
Toomey noted that his legislation would include gun shows and internet sales under the background-check requirement, including for long-guns. However, he pointed out that the measure, for the first time, provides for a penalty (fine and up to 15 years) for any government employee who uses that data to create a gun registry.
The Pennsylvanian highlighted the parts of the bill which the NRA and others like: allowing interstate travel with guns without being “subject to harassment” by law enforcement, accelerated background checks for the tiny percentage of persons whose names don’t process in minutes, ability to use a conceal-carry permit as your de facto background check, and some changes that make it easier for members of our military to buy guns, and to appeal a veteran’s unexpected appearance on the ‘no-buy’ list (my term, not his).
Sen. Toomey then fielded the following questions from Republican state committee persons.
Question: “I agree with the position you’ve taken…what can we do locally to help?”
Toomey: Write letters to the editor, call talk radio.
Question: What would this do to stop criminals from getting guns?
Toomey: “There is no panacea…it does make it a little more difficult. Today a convicted burglar or rapist can walk into a gun show and buy a rifle without anyone asking if he’s entitled to do so. By requiring that, it makes it a little harder…For people troubled by really serious and profound mental disorders, denying them the opportunity to buy a weapon could make it more difficult.”
Question: New York has broadened the definition of ‘mentally ill’ to include minor conditions, how does this measure avoid the risk of that happening nationwide?
Toomey: “We don’t create any new system or any new criteria.” We leave it to the states “to decide who is incompetent to own a weapon.” But we do require the states to develop a system for challenging the mentally-ill designation.
Question: Where does the NRA stand on your bill right now?
Toomey: I have had a number of conversations with the NRA. I have an ‘A’ rating. NRA really helped us to craft the language in the bill that expands 2nd amendment rights. But they’re opposed to any background checks whatsoever, so they’re not supporting it.
Question: What about gun transfers between relatives?
Toomey: Those are not subject to background checks under this.
Question: Where can I get a copy of the amendment? (The caller then said he had already found it online.)
Toomey invited folks to call his office with other questions.
At the end of the call, Joyce Haas, vice chair of the state committee, said PA-GOP would soon send out “talking points.”
MY THOUGHTS: Pat Toomey has been an island of sanity and integrity in a political cesspool for years, so when I first heard about this bill, it surprised me. [Full disclosure: Pat Toomey was the first person to endorse me when I first ran for County Executive in 2009, and he spoke at a major donor event for my successful 2011 run for County Commissioner.]
The Manchin-Toomey story was leaked out in a clumsy manner, and early support from Senators Susan Collins and John McCain didn’t do much to encourage those of us who are jealous for our natural right to self-defense as enshrined in the 2nd Amendment. After reading the bill, the summary, and listening to the conference call — as well as reading a lot of reaction to it in the social media and obsolete media (MSM) — I’m still somewhat confused. It does contain some things I like — interstate transfer rights, using conceal-carry card as background check.
I’m not convinced that the background check expansion is any worse than what we have now, but neither do I think that it addresses the problem which the president and the Democrats in the Senate say they want to fix. While it somewhat benignly says, “If we’re going to have an NICS it might as well be accurate,” it also perpetuates the fiction that the background check is an effective preventative against gun crime.
Practically speaking, Toomey-Manchin might be a Trojan horse, sneaking some pro-gun riders into Schumer’s pure gun-control bill. But what Democrat would be fooled by that? And how will any of this get past the Republican-controlled House?
Some of my local Republican friends have decided that Toomey is just another Arlen Specter, or that he’s been snookered, or that he is doing this for purely electoral purposes, hoping to win ‘moderates’ in his next race.
All of that would contradict what I know of a highly-intelligent, common sense legislator with a career in which he has won elections (and lost elections) by standing strong for his beliefs.
Frankly, I still don’t know what to think about this maneuver, but I do think that Pat Toomey believes he’s doing the right thing.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said the next step in gun-control is going to be expanding the definition of those deemed mentally unfit to own a gun.
“One of the things that we’re going to be focusing on in Delaware, including pursuing a background — universal background check which we passed in one — in one House, in the House of Representatives in our state legislature two weeks ago. Moving forward to the state Senate,” Biden said Friday on MSNBC.
“But the other piece that we’re going to be introducing next week is another part of our package. And that is expanding and broadening the category of folks who have a mental health issue that we believe should prohibit them from possessing a firearm,” he added.
The mental health definition has been fuzzy in gun bills introduced on the federal level, but usually has boiled down to whether a person is adjudicated mentally ill. Much of the debate on the Hill has been about whether a doctor can violate patient confidentiality in reporting a person to be listed in the gun-check database, and whether that would discourage those afflicted by mental illness from seeking treatment.
Biden called adjudication “a very high standard, basically being involuntarily committed to a mental institution.”
“We’re going to introduce legislation next week that says that if you are believed to be a risk to yourself or to others by your health care professional, that that health care professional would have an obligation to report that fact to a police agency who then would initiate a process to — to make sure that you do not possess a firearm,” said the vice president’s son.
“You would have due process rights and you have a judicial proceeding. But to make sure that those people who are mentally ill, that doctors believe shouldn’t be in possession of a weapon, don’t have them,” Biden continued. “Only 1300 people in 2010, for instance, were prohibited from possessing firearms because they were adjudicated mentally ill. This will broaden that category of people. We’ll have due process built into it. It will be constitutional and I think save lives, ultimately.”
Demonstrating his dad’s penchant for punny slips of the tongue, Biden later said he’d “jumped the gun” in talking about the new legislation.
“I’ve been privileged to watch my father answer the president’s charge in coming up with a comprehensive set of measures that protect kids ultimately and our families around this country,” Biden said of the veep. “I’ve watched my dad late into the night on the phone with the mothers and fathers, the survivors of — of this, of these tragedies in Connecticut and listened to them. Mostly in the listening mode.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of the original senators who threatened to filibuster gun-control legislation, said he’ll be voting against a compromise on background checks because of fear of what it could lead to.
Support for that legislative block fell apart Thursday when the Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) received eight more votes than needed to move his gun bill forward to debate. The first amendment expected this week is the background-checks compromise between Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
“Toomey-Manchin does contain some carve-outs. But we know that today’s carve-outs are tomorrow’s loopholes and that’s of concern to us,” Lee said this morning on NBC’s Meet the Press. “This bill, I believe, would do more to limit the rights of the law-abiding than it would to actually prevent violent crime. And that’s why I can’t support it.”
GOP Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Susan Collins (Maine) are expected to support the amendment. Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) voted against cloture on the gun bill and may vote against the amendment. Some Dems may object to a lack of universal background checks as sought and vote down the amendment, but most seem to be grudgingly down as yes votes.
“It remains to be seen whether it can pass the Senate,” Lee said.
“Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Americans have been rightfully focused on how to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future,” he added. “But, unfortunately, the proposals we’ve seen would serve primarily to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens while doing little, if anything, to actually prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), on the show with Lee, disagreed, saying “there is so much in these bills that have nothing to do with law-abiding citizens.”
“You’re not undermining Second Amendment rights by saying criminals have to go through a background check before they can buy that weapon,” she said. “This is not about the NRA. This is about families. This is about America.”
Toomey and Manchin also took to the Sunday shows together to push their legislation. “If you’re a law-abiding gun owner, you’re going to like this bill,” Manchin said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “…Now, if you are a criminal or if you have been mentally adjudicated and you go to a gun show or try to buy a gun online, you might not like this bill because you can’t do it.”
Toomey said he believes his effort has been an uphill climb “because people have misconceptions about what’s in this bill, what it does.”
“For instance, they think there’s this whole new system that we’re created that they have reason to worry about. In fact, we’re just working with an existing system, the existing background system that some states have chosen not to provide much information,” he said. “In the case of the Virginia Tech shooting, for instance, that individual was — had been adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill. The court system in Virginia knew that, but the state never provided the system to the background check, so when he went to buy a gun he passed the test.”
“Under our bill we create greater incentives for states to provide this kind information, so hopefully they will and someone like him might be denied in the future,” Toomey added.
“This is not universal, let me be very clear, this is a criminal and mental background check bill only at gun shows and internet sales,” Manchin said. “…And you know we’re not infringing on people`s rights. We’re just not infringing on their rights. And a law-abiding gun owner — I come from a gun culture state of West Virginia.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) indicated Sunday that the amendment is a non-starter for him, saying “criminals don’t care about the laws that we pass with regards to guns.”
“The problem is that all of these laws that people are discussing will not effectively deal with that problem, but will infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said on ABC.
“No one is focusing on why this society has become so violent. Why young people in America are committing these horrifying acts,” Rubio added. “And we are missing a golden opportunity to discuss that, and not simply just focus on gun laws that only law-abiding people will follow?”
Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) office was in intensive lobbying mode today to convince skeptical conservatives that the compromise forged with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on background checks.
Their bill is the first amendment expected to the gun bill before the Senate next week.
“HERE’S WHY THE MANCHIN-TOOMEY-KIRK-SCHUMER AMENDMENT IS GOOD FOR GUN OWNERS” the office of the former Club for Growth president said in an email shortly after noon.
1) The Manchin-Toomey-Kirk-Schumer amendment expressly prohibits a national registry and goes one step further by requiring 15 years in jail for any government official who attempts to keep such a list. In other words, this amendment makes it harder – not easier — to create a federal registry than under current law.
Schumer and Kirk are leaving the talking up to Toomey and Manchin.
An hour and a half later from Toomey’s office, “HERE’S WHY THE PUBLIC SAFETY AND 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS PROTECTION ACT IS GOOD FOR GUN OWNERS.”
2) The Public Safety and 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act now allows concealed carry permit holders to skip a background check altogether.
And later in the day:
3) The Public Safety and 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act allows interstate sales of handguns, which is banned now.
All messages included a link to encourage recipients to read the bill.
Manchin did his part for the full-court press, sending out a fact sheet, “Manchin-Toomey Amendment Protects Second Amendment Rights of Those Who Have Served Our Country”:
FACT – This amendment fixes an outdated law and allows active duty service members and their spouses to purchase guns in their home state, as well as their duty station. Current law unfairly restricts them to only buying guns in the state where they are stationed.
FACT – This amendment requires notification of veterans who have already been placed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by the Department of Veterans Affairs; some veterans may not even know they are in NICS. Once they are notified, the amendment allows every veteran in NICS to appeal for removal. There are currently over 150,000 veterans in NICS because they have had a fiduciary – someone to manage their finances – designated for them.
FACT – This amendment helps reduce the stigma surrounding PTSD by creating a fair appeals process for veterans who may have been wrongly or automatically categorized as unfit to own or purchase firearms.
FACT – This amendment establishes an appeals process for veterans by allowing them to appeal to an independent board or a court before being placed in the NICS system.
FACT – This amendment protects a veteran’s right to bear arms until he or she has exhausted the appeals process, which is different from the current system in which veterans are “guilty until proven innocent.”
Additional bill facts:
- This amendment will not ban any kind of weapon, magazine, or ammunition.
- This amendment will not create a national registry (in fact, it explicitly prohibits it). Those who attempt to create a registry face up to 15 years in prison.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), one of the 16 Republican “yes” votes on cloture to move Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) gun package forward, reiterated today that he’ll vote against the Toomey-Manchin amendment.
“I’ll examine each amendment to determine whether it strengthens or infringes upon our Second Amendment rights,” Alexander said. “The Toomey-Manchin proposal to expand background checks in my opinion doesn’t meet that test and I will vote against it.”
Alexander’s office stressed his “A” rating from the NRA.
President Obama has a habit of using police officers as props while he promotes his gun control policies.
He did it in February in Minneapolis, MN.
He did it this month in Denver, CO.
But what do police officers really think about the president’s gun control proposals?
One of the president’s proposals is banning so-called high capacity magazines. By high capacity, Obama and his allies typically mean any magazine (which they frequently incorrectly call “clips”) that holds more than 10 rounds. New York State took a more extreme position, banning magazines that hold more than 7 rounds.
According to a survey of 15,000 US police officers, rank and file cops overwhelmingly believe that banning such magazines will not reduce violent crime.
The survey was conducted by PoliceOne. It provides no cover for the Obama White House to continue using police officers to push for its gun policies.
In fact, a heavy majority in the survey believe that Obama’s proposals will not even make police officers themselves any safer.
Forty-four percent say that if more restrictive gun laws are passed, they would join other officers and the public and either not enforce those laws or even vocally oppose them.
In what may be the most unsettling result for gun control advocates, a larger number of police officers believe that making concealed carry laws more permissive will have a more positive effect on preventing large scale mass shootings than any other available choice, including more laws banning “assault” weapons. Banning “assault” weapons was the least popular choice.
More than 90 percent of the officers surveyed said they believed there would be fewer casualties at mass shootings if an armed citizen had been present.
Question 29 will bring even more unwelcome news for gun control advocates, as well as those who blame violent video games for mass killings.
What’s the legislative solution to that, Democrats?
Read the whole survey here, and note well its conclusions.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) quickly followed his vote this morning to break the GOP filibuster and move forward to consideration of gun legislation with a lengthy explanatory statement and pledge to bring forward his own NRA-backed legislation.
“I welcome a debate on the Second Amendment in the United States Senate. I want to proceed to this bill. I want to debate it. I am not afraid,” Graham said. “Some have asked why I opposed filibustering a procedural motion to move forward.”
– “Many Senators have refused to even take a position on some of these issues for fear of angering one side or the other. There’s only one way to see where Senators actually stand – make them vote.”
– “Filibustering right now means Senators get a free pass. Some politicians’ dream scenario is one where they don’t actually have to vote For or Against a proposal but can tell each side they were with them all along. Again, let’s make Senators vote.”
– “Nothing the Democrats are proposing would have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre. We need Senators on record. Do you support these proposals?”
– “The legislation can still be filibustered after today in the United States Senate. And even if gun control legislation passes the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate it is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.”
– “Finally, I have my own legislation, supported by the NRA, which I want to bring forward in the Senate. My legislation would make a real difference in keeping guns out of the wrong hands.”
That bill, Graham said, is “designed to prevent individuals like Alice Boland, a mentally disturbed individual who once pled ‘Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity’ in federal court for threatening to kill the President of the United States, from legally buying a firearm. Under current law, she was able to pass a background check, buy a pistol, and go to Ashley Hall School in Charleston where she tried to shoot several school officials. One bullet in her hands is one too many.”
“Again, I welcome a debate on gun control and you should too,” he continued. “The American people deserve to see where their elected representatives stand on the Second Amendment. Let’s vote.”
The gun bill passed cloture in the Senate with 68 votes today.
How does this happen, in what we are told is the world’s greatest deliberative body, when senators have not even seen the text of the legislation?
Speaking on the Senate floor minutes before the vote to move gun-control legislation forward, Mike Lee (R., Utah) urged postponing the cloture vote because none of his Senate colleagues has yet had a chance to read the entire bill. “We’re trying to prevent the ability of members to push through legislation before anyone has had the time to read and evaluate the language,” Lee said. “As of this morning, as of this very moment, not a single senator has been provided the legislative text of” the background-check provision proposed yesterday by senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, which Lee said was the “centerpiece of this legislation.”
The cloture vote does not guarantee that the bill will pass, but it does now put it up to a simple majority vote in the Senate. Democrats have the majority in the Senate, and often vote with their party rather than vote with what their constituents want. They did that very thing when they passed ObamaCare, and had not read that bill before passing it either. Democrat Mary Landrieu, for instance, is from a red state, but she’ll do what the party tells her to do after extracting some meaningless concessions. The pressure will then mount on the House to kill it. Obama’s political army OFA is already emailing its minions to keep the pressure up on Congress to pass the bill — which no one has actually read.
But table that for a minute. President Obama promised that Americans would have 72 hours to read bills, which would be posted online, before they would be voted on or passed. Instead of that, we have an opaque government that continues voting on laws that even members of Congress have not read.
This is unacceptable in a republic. We should not be passing bills in order to find out what is in them.
The attempt of some Republicans to block gun legislation from coming to the Senate floor failed this morning as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) firearms bill survived a cloture vote 68-31.
A 60-vote threshold was needed to move forward on consideration of the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013.
Democrats Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted no.
Republicans voting yes were Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), John McCain (Ariz.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.).
Reid said that, as promised, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who also both voted yes on cloture, would have the first amendment to the bill and would have time to prepare their background-check compromise for a vote. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) assault weapons ban would also get an amendment vote, he said.
“Some people love it, some people hate it, but we’ve got to have a vote on it,” Reid said.
“We cannot have just a few senators spoiling everything for everyone here.”
Before the vote, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who had threatened a filibuster of any gun-control legislation brought to the floor and were joined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others, protested that no one had been able to read the Toomey-Manchin amendment yet.
“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,” the trio said in a statement.
“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.”
Connecticut’s senators say they’ll accept the background check compromise of Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W-Va.) as “a good starting point” for the broader gun-control legislation they seek.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) gathered families of Newtown in the gallery for the cloture vote to move forward the gun-control debate.
“We’re glad our colleagues forged a reasonable compromise on expanding background checks for gun purchases. We continue to support and will continue to work toward a truly universal background check system, but this bipartisan compromise represents significant progress, because it is a major improvement over current law, and will make sure that a lot fewer criminals get their hands on guns. It will make our streets and our schools safer,” they said.
“On the morning of December 14th, we pledged that we would do everything we could to make sure that more parents wouldn’t have to bury their children because of preventable gun violence. Expanded background checks are only part of a much bigger comprehensive solution to this problem, but this compromise is a good starting point for next week’s debate on a broader gun violence bill,” Blumenthal and Murphy continued.
“This proposal moves us forward, putting us one step closer to passing a strong package of common sense gun reform that will save lives.”
Blumenthal and Murphy began the day on the Senate floor talking about Newtown.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who’s been talking with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about a compromise gun-control bill, dismissed the background check proposal put forth today by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as “a good faith but unworkable plan.”
“The proposal will impose new taxes and unreasonable burdens on law-abiding citizens. The agreement also prioritizes collecting records over protecting citizens,” Coburn said in a statement. “As gun control special-interest groups admit, the proposal expands the government’s powers to record sales of firearms at the expense of expanding the scope of background checks. This is the wrong approach. Preventing sales to dangerous persons, not collecting receipts, will save lives.”
“The proposal also unwisely expands the government’s power to regulate and control the sales of firearms. A government takeover of gun shows will open more loopholes than it closes. Instead of paying a gun show tax, gun owners will simply handle those transactions elsewhere. The Manchin-Toomey proposal, unfortunately, trades a workable way to improve access the NICS database for a system that is not workable and will be extremely difficult to pass Congress and become law,” the senator continued.
“I entered these talks because I believe the American people want a common sense policy that respects their Second Amendment rights and freedoms while giving them the tools they need to make sure they aren’t transferring a firearm to someone who will be a threat to themselves or others.”
Coburn said he intends to offer a substitute amendment “based on many previously agreed to bipartisan reforms gun control advocates abandoned.”
“For instance, I’ll propose a consumer portal that would facilitate access to the NICS database at not just gun shows but for virtually all private sales,” he said. “While the Manchin-Toomey proposal is flawed, I commend them for their effort and look forward to the full and open debate the American people deserve.”
Second Amendment advocacy group Gun Owners of America broadcast an urgent action email today clarifying the group’s position on the Toomey-Manchin gun amendment. The email highlights several problems that it has with the proposed compromise legislation.
Urgent action required. It is urgent that every gun owner call their Senators today and demand that they oppose the “See a Shrink, Lose your Guns” sell-out bill that is being authored by Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Joe Manchin (D) – but which also has Chuck Schumer’s fingerprints all over it. Call immediately at 202-224-3121.
See a Shrink, Lose your Guns. The anti-gun “ranters” have spent the last week telling us that Republican Senators can’t filibuster Harry Reid’s gun control bill; that they can’t cut off debate to a bill they haven’t seen yet. “Let the bill come up,” they say. “We need to see the bill” before Senators can vote against cloture to proceed to it.
Well, we’ve seen the Toomey-Manchin-Schumer sell-out, and it’s worse than the Feinstein gun ban, which will reportedly be tied to it and offered simultaneously in a Senate procedure known as an “amendment tree.”
Toomey and Manchin will claim that their bill only covers “gun show sales” and Internet sales. But if you’ve ever talked about your gun and /or let it be known you’d like to sell or buy a gun on the Internet, this language covers you. If you advertise your gun in the church bulletin and the bulletin is put on the Internet, you’re covered.
The only exemption is for sales that are sold exclusively by word of mouth. The increased number of background checks would likely exacerbate the system breakdowns (inherent to NICS) which have shut down gun shows over and over again. It would mean that Americans who were illegally denied firearms because their names were similar to other people’s would effectively be barred from owning a gun. (We would never tolerate such delays for voting rights or other freedoms that we are guaranteed.)
And for those Republicans who think they’re going to be able to offer their useless amendments, guess what? Reid is reportedly going to use a procedure to block out all amendments (called an “amendment tree”). And there are plenty of Senators standing in line to make sure that the Senate doesn’t give “unanimous consent” to let those Republicans offer their amendments.
So if you live in a rural area, you’re effectively barred from selling or buying a gun – or it at least becomes very, very difficult.
Incidentally, the Toomey-Manchin-Schumer “national registry” language is full of holes. There will be a national gun registry as a result of this sell-out.
But that’s not the worst part. Under an amendment in the bill to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), you could have your guns taken away because your private shrink thinks you’re “dangerous” and could send your name directly to the FBI Instant Check system.
The GOA email also warns of a danger to current gun owners.
In addition, Toomey no doubt unintentionally agreed to repeal one of the most important protections for gun owners that was included in the 1986 McClure-Volkmer Act – the provision that would allow you to take an unloaded, locked-up gun through states like New York without being stopped. Under a new subsection (c), the Toomey-Manchin-Schumer bill would require you to “demonstrate” to the satisfaction of New York police where you were coming from and where you are going to. And, if you don’t do that to their satisfaction, they can arrest you.