'Unconstitutional': Conservatives Torch Senate Gun Control Bill

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Posted: Jun 22, 2022 10:45 AM
'Unconstitutional': Conservatives Torch Senate Gun Control Bill

Source: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

After Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) finally released the text of their new gun bill — the "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" — on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) quickly rushed to hold the first procedural vote on the legislation within an hour of the text going public and before many senators had a chance to digest the full 80-page bill. 

Tuesday night's vote prevailed 64 to 34, but the speed with which Schumer moved to a vote drew the ire of those who prefer to study legislation before voting on it, including GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri who voted "no" on Tuesday evening. 

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who also voted no, released a statement explaining that "[t]his bill won’t stop the violent shootings by deranged criminals. But it will restrict the freedoms of law-abiding Americans and put too much power in the hands of politicians and political officials," Cotton said. "Stopping gun violence starts with more funding for police and tougher sentences for the criminals who violate gun laws—not taking away due process from law-abiding gun owners."

Utah GOP Senator Mike Lee tweeted that "process matters" and also highlighted the rushed process of Tuesday's procedural vote: "With only moments to review, no committee hearings, and no regular order, a vote was held with implications concerning an essential constitutional right. The American people deserve better from the world's 'greatest deliberative body.'" 

In addition, Kevin Roberts — the president of The Heritage Foundation — tweeted that "[t]hese blind votes without committee hearings keep costing Americans their freedom and their money. We deserve better," he added.

Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt released a statement blasting Republican senators who backed the bill and voted for it to move forward:

Once again, so-called ‘conservative’ Senators are making clear they believe that the rights of American citizens can be compromised away.  Let me be clear, they have NO AUTHORITY to compromise with our rights, and we will not tolerate legislators who are willing to turn gun owners into second-class citizens.  GOA fully opposes this unconstitutional legislation and will continue to encourage our millions of members to make their voices heard to their elected officials on this bill.

The National Rifle Association was also quick to oppose the bill in a statement, and confirmed to Townhall that the organization will be scoring against the bill meaning Republicans who support the legislation will take a hit to their NRA rating:

The NRA will support legislation that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime. However, we will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short at every level. It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners. 

This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians. This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions – inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms.

On the other side of the issue, 14 Republicans voted in the affirmative rush ahead with legislation that is being supported by anti-gun groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and March for Our Lives. The Republican members voting "yes" were Sens. Blunt (MO), Burr (NC), Capito (WV), Cassidy (LA), Collins (ME), Cornyn (TX), Ernst (IA), Graham (SC), McConnell (KY), Murkowski (AK), Portman (OH), Romney (UT), Tillis (NC), and Young (IN). 

The bill faces two more votes in the Senate — one to end debate and one for final passage. The first requires at least 60 votes and seems likely to occur on Thursday. The second and final vote only needs a simple majority and could happen yet this week or end up pushed into Saturday. If the votes for and against moving the bill forward cast Tuesday night remain unchanged, the bill will sail through the Senate and then be taken up by the House of Representatives for passage before heading to President Biden's desk to be signed, ironically, around the anniversary of America declaring her independence from tyrants who deprived patriots' of their God-given rights.