Predictably, in the wake of the Orlando Nightclub shooting, politicians have become infected with the highly contagious “Do-Something Disease”. Filibusters and dueling gun control proposals have the 2nd Amendment and due process protections again in the cross-hairs. Four gun-control proposals are set to be debated and receive a vote on the Senate floor on Monday, as the call for legislation reaches a fever pitch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the votes late on Thursday afternoon. Two of the bills were sponsored by Republicans and two by Democrats. All will need 60 votes in order to pass, and each is being proposed as an amendment to the commerce, justice, and science appropriations bill before the Senate.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, is backing a bill to enhance universal background checks to address the so-called gun-show loophole, and a bill to ban those on terror watch lists from buying weapons.
The second and more popular Democratic bill, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, failed by a 54-45 party-line vote in December, just after the attack in San Bernardino, California. Again, the 60 vote threshold and Republican control of the Senate make it unlikely to pass this time either. However, with President Obama and Donald Trump expressing support for denying gun sales to people on these lists and the fresh emotions from the Orlando shooting, some Republicans may cross over and support it. Opponents to the Feinstein bill say that, since you can be placed on a terror watch list without being found guilty of a crime, then it could cause US citizens on the list to be erroneously stripped of their Second Amendment right without due process.
The lead Republican proposal was reintroduced by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas on Thursday. It’s a slightly altered version of the SHIELD Act, which failed to pass late last year. If passed in its current form, the attorney general can delay approval of a background check for a firearm purchase for three days for any person who is either a known or suspected terrorist, or has been subjected to a terrorism-related investigation within the past five years. That three day delay would allow law enforcement to present probable cause to a judge to support denial of purchase and the denial could only be granted by court order.
“My legislation actually does what we need to do to give law enforcement first the notice that this individual is trying to buy a weapon, and then the opportunity to take them off the streets and deny them access to a firearm. We need a robust response to protect American citizens but one that doesn’t infringe on constitutional rights.” (Sen. John Cornyn, (R) TX)
The second Republican proposal came from Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, but is not up for debate on Monday. He crafted legislation that would direct the attorney general to create a new list of suspected terrorists who could be barred from buying weapons.
“We don’t want terrorists to be able to walk into a gun store and buy a gun, and we don’t want innocent, law-abiding citizens to be denied Second Amendment rights because he’s wrongly on the list with a bunch of terrorists,” Toomey said during a Wednesday speech on the Senate floor.
All of the bills are being proposed as amendments to the commerce, justice, and science appropriations bill before the Senate. One of the underlying factors also tied to the gun control amendments are parts of the existing appropriations bill which repeal several provisions of the Affordable Care Act and end Medicaid expansion as of Jan. 1, 2018. The leading Democrat amendment authored by Dianne Feinstein guts these provisions from the existing bill, while the Cornyn proposal keeps them intact.
Her is where YOU come in. CALL THE SENATE SWITCHBOARD: (202) 224-3121. Contact Your Senator. Let them know where you stand. If you opposed secret government lists, tell them to leave you gun rights alone and get rid of the lists. If you want your gun rights and your due process rights protected, let them hear you. People complain about lobbyists, special interests and influence peddling in Washington, but the biggest and most powerful lobbyist group in America is We The People. It’s time we start using that power.
Let them know we are sick of the political games, we are sick of the “do-something disease” and we are sick of them taking emotional issues, making knee-jerk proposals and tying unrelated issues like gun rights and healthcare together in order to wheel and deal away our rights. If something must be done, do it on a clean bill and pass it on its own merits rather than slipping it in as attachments or amendments. Something as important as legislation that effects our 2nd and 4th Amendment protected rights deserves a straight and clean up or down vote in full view of the American public.