Senate Democrats’ Filibuster Ends With An Agreement With GOP To Hold Votes On Gun Control Amendments

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jun 16, 2016 7:30 AM
Senate Democrats’ Filibuster Ends With An Agreement With GOP To Hold Votes On Gun Control Amendments

UPDATE: Washington Post has reported that GOP leaders have agreed to vote on amendments relating to expanded background checks and barring those on terror watch list from buying guns. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who led the filibuster added that there's no guarantee that they'll pass.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) ended a blockade of the Senate floor after nearly 15 hours Thursday, announcing Republican leaders had agreed to hold votes on Democrat-backed measures to expand background checks and prevent suspected terrorists from acquiring guns.

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“We still have to get from here to there, but we did not have that commitment when we started,” Murphy said early Thursday, crediting his filibuster with pressuring leaders to commit to the votes, though he noted there was “no guarantee that those amendments pass.”

UPDATE II: Guy has more on this, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) apparently thinks due process is a tremendous problem when it comes to possibly stripping gun rights from Americans. This guy used to be an A-rated NRA politician:

MANCHIN: Really, the firewall we have right now is due process. It’s all due process. So we can all say we want the same thing, but how do we get there? If a person is on a terrorist watch list, like the gentleman, the shooter in Orlando? He was twice by the FBI — we were briefed yesterday about what happened — but that young man was brought in twice. They did everything they could. The FBI did everything they were supposed to do. But there was no way to keep him on the nix list or keep him off the gun-buy list, there was no way to do that.

So can’t we say that if a person’s under suspicion there should be a five-year period of time that we have to see if good behavior, if this person continues the same traits? Maybe we can come to that type of an agreement, but due process is what’s killing us right now.

***Original Post***

Just before 3 a.m. the Democratic filibuster in the Senate over gun control ended, with an agreement to vote on two pro-gun control measures—though we don’t know exactly what they’d be. Most likely this will be another fight over expanded background checks and preventing those on terrorist watch lists from buying firearms. Do not expect much to happen on either front. Around 40 Senate Democrats took turns speaking during the filibuster. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) held up a Justice Department funding bill to discuss this issue (via WaPo):

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) ended a nearly 15-hour blockade of the Senate floor early Thursday, saying an agreement had been reached to allow votes on two Democrat-backed gun control measures.

The Democrats had continued their blockade of the Senate floor into the wee hours of Thursday morning in a bid to deny guns to suspected terrorists, after efforts to strike a gun control compromise in the wake of the Orlando massacre frayed.

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But leaders had still not announced any agreement on what gun control measures would be voted on as amendments to a spending bill pending on the Senate floor.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had approached Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to help craft a measure that would allow the attorney general to prevent any terrorist suspects from acquiring guns. Underscoring Republican concerns with due process, Cornyn had previously proposed requiring court approval within three days for a ban on an individual’s attempted purchase of a gun.

Both measures were introduced in 2015 and failed following the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out,” Feinstein told reporters late Wednesday of her efforts to find a middle ground with Cornyn.

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Democratic senators are putting their collective weight behind two gun control measures: Feinstein’s proposal, and a measure jointly written by Sens. Toomey and Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) to require criminal and mental health background checks at gun shows and for online firearms sales.

Manchin called his measure with Toomey, which garnered 54 votes including the support of four Republicans the last time the Senate considered it in 2013, “the fundamental building block” necessary for any effort to keep guns away from terrorists.

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House Democrats gathered Wednesday morning in a room in the basement of the Capitol to plot a path forward. Afterward, leaders said they hoped to press for more thorough gun controls, including expanded background checks and a renewal of the lapsed assault weapons ban, but said they are focused first on closing “the terror gap.”

The Newtown shooting, which killed 20 children in a heinous shooting, rocked the country, and nothing happened. A bill that would’ve expanded background checks headed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) failed. An amendment to reinstate the so-called assault weapons ban failed miserably as well. There maybe some movement on the terrorist watch list portion of this renewed gun control push, but I think you can cross a new so-called assault weapons ban and expanded background checks off the list of possibilities. I say maybe on the terrorist watch list/no fly front since Donald Trump apparently supports the idea--and that could be used to put more pressure on Republicans than usual to craft something in which there is a 100% chance that anti-gun Democrats won't agree with at all. The National Rifle Association reiterated their position about the lack of due process regarding these lists.

All three initiatives are appalling concerning Second Amendment rights. When President Clinton’s assault weapons ban was in effect, it did next to nothing to curb gun violence—possibly because long guns are rarely used in gun crimes. Expanded background checks is another area where congressional action is irrelevant. The Orlando killer bought his guns legally because he had no criminal background, as did the shooter of the Umpqua Community College in Oregon—a state that has universal background checks on all gun purchases.

Last, if you care about due process of law, mixing terror and no-fly watch lists with gun control is a toxic cocktail. These are secretive government lists in which people that are on them wrongly (and there are quite a few, like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy) cannot fights to get their names off because due process is absent. Moreover, most of the names of these lists have shaky ties to terrorism if there are ties at all. It’s based on mere suspicion. The Weekly Standard’s Chris Hayes was placed on a no-fly, how he got on there is a mystery, but he suspects that it was due to his trip to Turkey around the time of ISIS’ rise in the region. Stripping Americans of their Second Amendment right is fine when they commit violent felonies, but they go through a trial. With these various terror lists maintained by the FBI, you don’t go through a trial. Heck, you don’t know who tipped you off for supposedly being an alleged terrorist. Oh, and the accuracy of these lists, especially the no fly, is, at times, comical. We’ve all heard of various children, who range in age, some as young as eighteen months, being flagged for being terrorists.

The good news (for all you anti-gunners) is that they can’t buy firearms; eighteen for long guns, twenty-one for handguns—so we’re safe on that front, right? The bad news is that it makes the government look really, really bad when they add babies on no fly lists. Similar to when the top-notch (of course I’m being sarcastic) agents of the Transportation Security Administration break out the latex gloves to detain and pat down a three-year-old girl wheelchair-bound girl. It’s absurd. Then again, the TSA’s alleged campaign of sexual assaulting passengers is also terrible.

I’m not saying the GOP is holier than thou in the no fly/terrorist watch list front in this war over gun rights—they certainly encouraged the use of such lists post-9/11. But if Democrats want to strip the rights of people with terror ties of their Second Amendment rights, they should do so without setting the Constitution on fire. If there’s anything that we should learn from the creation of these lists is the gross overreach of government power, and gross overreach is a very accurate description of the polices the emanate from this administration, the Democratic Party, and the Left as of late.