Even after a 15-hour filibuster, Congress’ latest attempt at gun control failed a crucial vote in the Senate. There were four measures being debated, two by Republicans and two by Democrats, with the aim of keeping guns from possible terrorists and other potentially dangerous individuals. The failed effort shows that Congress’s gridlock still holds, even just a few days after the second worst terror attack on U.S. soil.
Lawmakers were already pessimistic. ABC News reported that even one of the measures’ co-sponsors, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, was a bit reluctant about his bill’s chances.
“I think the background checks bill is going to be tough to pass… But keeping terrorists from buying guns – I think we might be able to pass that.”
Turns out, none were able to pass. According to USA Today, Murphy’s bill would have expanded background checks to gun shows, closing what’s sometimes called the “gun show loophole,” and to expand the background check database.
Another proposal, co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, would allow the attorney general to deny a gun sale based on a “reasonable belief” the buyer intended to engage in terrorism. Right now, the attorney general needs “probable cause” to stop the sale. Those bills failed to get the 60 votes needed to proceed in Congress.
The Republican measures failed, too.
One from Senator John Cornyn would have created a system to alert law enforcement whenever a person on the terrorist watch list attempted to buy a gun. Likewise, if the buyer was investigated for terrorism in the last 5 years, the attorney general could block the purchase in a mandatory 3-day waiting period.
A final measure, from Senator Chuck Grassley, would have added more information about people with serious mental illnesses to the background check database, according to CNN.
All of the bills were proposed amendments to the Justice Department spending bill, and they were voted down, largely along party lines.
Democrats argued that the Republican measures were insufficient, and accused the Republicans of working to please the National Rifle Association.
The Republicans argued that their bills were more relevant to the Orlando Pulse club shooting that happened a little over a week ago. They also said the Democratic bills did too little to offer due process for people being denied the right to purchase a gun.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said, “Senate Republicans should be embarrassed – but they are not, because the NRA is happy,” after the vote. The NRA approved of the two Republican measures.
Still, most Americans approve of efforts to deny gun ownership from suspects on the terrorist watch list. CNN reports that 90 percent of Republicans responding to their survey said they approved of barring gun purchases to suspects on the terrorist watch list. So do 85 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Independents.
Republican Senator John Cornyn mentioned another, more controversial, proposal by Republican Senator Susan Collins that would bar all people on the TSA’s “no-fly” list from purchasing a gun.
“I congratulate her for her good work. I just think these are the first votes were going to have, but that doesn’t preclude other votes. Sen. McConnell said if she wants a vote, I’m sure she could get one.”
Collins has reportedly spoken to multiple Democrats, hoping to get their votes for her bill, but there is still resistance to the measure.
Democrats are also seething after having their own gun-control measures voted down. Chris Murphy, who did a 15-hour filibuster to bring his amendment to the floor, said the Senate GOP has “decided to sell weapons to ISIS.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren followed up with her own Tweet saying the same.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 20, 2016
The next Senate gun vote to decide the fate of Senator Collins’ measure may come as early as this week.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]