The U.S. Senate voted against four gun amendments Monday.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The U.S. Senate blocked four amendments designed to expand background checks and prevent those on terror watchlists from acquiring firearms Monday.
The votes came in the aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, wherein 50 people died, including the suspected gunman, during a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The legislative language had been introduced as amendments to the 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. They would have each required 60 votes in order to invoke cloture, a procedural hurdle necessary to open the amendments up to a formal debate.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) convinced Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Thursday to schedule a floor vote after leading an intense 15-hour Democratic filibuster the previous day.
Murphy, whose amendment would have mandated universal background checks regardless of purchasing venue, said his legislation would not have seen the light of day had it not been for the tragedy in Orlando. The amendment failed 53 to 47.
“Let’s be clear about the fact that this body was going to ignore what happened in Orlando last week in the largest mass shooting in the history of this country,” Murphy said. “We were going to pretend like it didn’t happen.”
Murphy said requiring background checks so as to prevent suspected terrorists from obtaining dangerous assault weapons should not have been controversial.
“We are at least going to see where people stand on some pretty simple concepts,” Murphy said. “The concept that if you are suspected of terrorism you should not be able to walk out of a gun store in this country with a dangerous assault weapon.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who in 2013 unsuccessfully tried to push an assault weapons ban through Congress and whose bill would have prohibited those on a terrorist watchlist from purchasing firearms or explosives, said the Orlando tragedy reinforced the need for new gun control legislation. The amendment failed 53 to 47.
“It’s time to force elected representatives to take action,” Feinstein said. “We must expand background checks … we must make sure the government can stop a gun from being sold to a known or suspected terrorist.”
“That’s not too much to ask,” Feinstein said.
Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Tex.) amendment would have authorized states to institute a 72-hour waiting period for those on a terrorist watchlist pending judicial approval. He said adoption of Feinstein’s amendment would not have prevented the mass shooting in Orlando. He said his Democratic colleagues should have emphasized combating terrorism as opposed to proposing new gun control measures. The amendment failed 53 to 47.
“Our colleagues want to make this about gun control when what we should be making this about is the fight to eliminate the Islamic extremism that is the root cause for what happened in Orlando,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn also said Feinstein’s amendment violates Constitutional protections such as due process rights afforded by the Fifth Amendment as well as the Second Amendment’s guarantee that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
“I don’t think any American should sacrifice their Constitutional rights without forcing the government to go to an impartial magistrate or judge and be able to show sufficient evidence to convince that judge that they have the evidence to deny those constitutional rights,” Cornyn argued.
Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), whose amendment would have required dealers to report suspected terrorists who attempt to purchase a firearm but stopped short of requiring universal background checks, also said Democrats were deflecting from combating terrorism and instead focusing on a key aspect of their domestic agenda. The amendment failed 53 to 47.
“We should all be addressing the real problem of radical Islamic terrorism,” Grassley said. “But the Democrat leadership has taken their eyes off the ball and is trying to turn this tragedy into another debate about guns.”
Grassley also said he rejected Murphy’s earlier suggestion that the “gun-show-loophole,” which is said to permit attendees to bypass background checks, would allow known terrorists to purchase firearms without scrutiny.
“Anyone watching the Senate floor would think that people who buy a firearm at a gun show aren’t subject to a background check,” Grassley said. “If you’re an individual and you want to sell your gun to another individual you may do so assuming you don’t know or have a reasonable cause to believe that a such a person is prohibited from owning a gun.”