This afternoon, the Senate voted on four proposals for increased gun control, two submitted by Republicans and two by Democrats. All four went down to defeat, although both Republican bills had majority support.
Senator Chuck Grassley proposed legislation that would have increased funding for the NICS background check system, and would have pressed states to send more records to the FBI on felons and others barred from buying guns. It also revamped language that prohibits some people with mental health problems from buying guns. Grassley’s bill had majority support, 53-47, but wasn’t passed because the Democrats filibustered it.
Senator John Cornyn offered legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists. His bill would let the government block a sale to a known or suspected terrorist, and prosecutors would then have three days to convince a judge that the would-be buyer was likely a terrorist. This seems like a sensible compromise, and it too had majority support, 53-47, but again the Democrats filibustered and blocked the bill from taking effect.
The Democrats likewise offered two proposals, both of which enjoyed less support. Dianne Feinstein proposed legislation that would bar gun sales to people on any federal terrorism watch list–a list that has included Ted Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, and many random, innocent citizens–without providing any way for people to get themselves taken off the list. I think it is safe to say that this proposal was sheer political grandstanding. It went down to a 47-53 defeat. It is shameful that so many Democrats voted for it.
Chris Murphy’s bill would have required the current, inadequate list of people who can’t buy guns to be applied to even more sales, including sales between friends or relatives. That, too, was defeated 47-53.
Islamic terrorists don’t rely on legal access to firearms. Muslim terrorists have used box cutters, shoe bombs, pressure cookers, knives and other weapons to wreak havoc. The current proposals are largely for show, and have little to do with actually stopping terrorist attacks. Still, the Republicans offered a couple of sound, middle of the road bills that had majority support and would have provided increased gun control, if that were really the objective. But the Democrats don’t want anything to pass, they just want to complain and hope for political gain. So today, they filibustered the only constructive proposals that came to the Senate floor. Shame on them.