July 21st, 2009
05:48 PM ET
9 years ago

Senate Democrats splinter over controversial concealed gun measure

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The hotly debated issue of gun control took center stage on Capital Hill Tuesday as key Senate Democrats bickered over a controversial proposal that would allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

The measure, drafted by South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, would require each of the 48 states that currently allow concealed firearms to honor permits issued in other states.

Supporters of the measure argue it would help deter criminals; opponents claim it would endanger innocent people by effectively forcing most of the country to conform to regulations in states with the loosest gun ownership standards.

The issue has blurred Capitol Hill's usual partisan lines. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is one of several Southern and Western Democrats supporting the measure. Others Democrats oppose it.

The full Senate is set to vote on it Wednesday in the form of an amendment to a larger defense appropriations bill.

"This amendment is reckless (and) irresponsible," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said at a news conference Tuesday.

"I believe it's going to lead to more weapons and violence on the streets of our nation. ... I have no doubt that if the amendment (passes), people will die because of it."

Feinstein was joined by, among others, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, who argued the measure is proof that Washington's potent gun lobby has gone "a bridge too far."

"We know that the gun lobby is strong," Schumer said. But this proposal "directly threatens the safety of Americans, particularly in urban and suburban areas."

Schumer and Feinstein argued that Thune's proposal had turned the traditional Republican emphasis on states' rights on its head.

"The great irony of this amendment is that the pro-gun lobby is doing a 180-degree turn to impose out-of-state standards on other states," Schumer said. "This proposal would trample other states' rights."

"The very people who treasure states' rights use it when it's convenient for their cause," Feinstein added.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, was one of several Western Democrats who cited a constitutional right to bear arms in announcing support for the proposal.

"Montanans who have concealed-weapon permits shouldn't have their basic Second Amendment rights limited just because they travel across state lines," Baucus said in a written statement.

This legislation "expands gun rights for folks who follow the law."

For his part, Thune predicted that the measure, if passed, would save lives.

"Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm ... they are less likely to commit crimes when they fear that they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed," he argued.

For gun control advocates, the fight over Thune's proposal is the latest in a series of unexpected setbacks since the start of the Obama administration.

In May, President Barack Obama signed a credit card bill that included a provision allowing people to carry guns in national parks. Another bill that would have given the District of Columbia's representative in Congress full voting rights stalled earlier in the year after Senate Republicans attached a provision that would have eased tight gun controls in the district.

–CNN's Greg Clary and Brianna Keilar contributed to this report

Filed under: John Thune
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Amanda

    I don't carry a weapon and would never carry one. What is wrong with all these machos who think they cannot leave the house without it ? Guns kill.

    July 21, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  2. Jimmy the Greek

    None of the debate matters. Obama will veto the bill if passed. Everyone knows Obama is an opponent of gun rights.

    Remember him siding with DC City officials who banned private citizens from owning hand-guns?

    The SPOTUS slapped down Obama and the ban (thankfully).

    July 21, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. John from California

    This bill right now is being offered to take attention away from important issues facing our society.

    I say table this measure until action is resolved on Health Care, Energy, Regulation of Bankers, Hedge Funds and other Financial Institutions.

    We don't need any hot button fringe topics until we get the top priority items passed into law.

    This is just more republican obstructionism.

    July 21, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. dee

    dont do it!

    July 21, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. Enlightened Voter

    rethuglicans will support gun rights for all but not health care. Question – why do people need Ak47's??

    July 21, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. Scott Stodden

    This is a shame, why would we let people carry concealed weapons across statelines? This is going to do nothing but raise the murder rates and criminal activity from state to state when concealed weapons fall into the wrong hands. I know at election time Im voting straight Democrat no Republicans will be marked on my ballot. We can vote to go to war but we cant rid the country of people carrying concealed weapons what a shame.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,IL)

    July 21, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  7. S Callahan

    Why do they make this difficult for themselves...read some old laws...review, review, review.....the citiizens have the right to carry arms , responsibly (this last word is where the debate really lives).

    July 21, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    ""Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm … they are less likely to commit crimes when they fear that they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed," he argued."

    You forgot to finish the sentence CNN. That should read "...he argued without citing any specific scientifically developed psychological or sociological empirical evidence or studies to support the proposition regarding the mindset of a criminal who intends to commit a crime."

    July 21, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. Dave C - NJ

    Ahh yes....criminals will be scared because they won't know who is or is not carrying a gun. That'll stop 'em.

    I'm glad that this law is aimed at those that "follow the law." Because we all know that no one ever bought a gun legally and broke the law with it. Oh, wait.....

    July 21, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. Moderate Democrat

    We could take our shooting lessons from Dick Cheney.

    July 21, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. Jasmine in Germany

    NO! I agree with Sen. Feinstein! It is reckless and irresponsible. Such a measure could be considered in a country with a low crime rate, but not in the US, especially because of its high population, lack of national I. D. and very high (including violent) crime rate. Are you crazy? Is this the type of society you want your children to grow up in? Talk about being behind the times...

    Thune said this: "Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm … they are less likely to commit crimes when they fear that they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed," he argued.

    What an idiot. I don't think this is what our forefathers had in mind.

    July 21, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  12. Husman

    Politicians are nut cases and in the face of crumbling health care cost and their stone walling, the Democrats are dragging themselves into a divisive issue orchestrated by the do nothing Republicans to distract peoples attention from burning issues such as the economy they ruined and the spiralling health care cost that threatens to bankrupt the stagnated economy that the Republicans ruined with their massive taxes for the rich.
    People should keep their guns in their homes and what are they doing with guns when travelling except they are human hunting.

    July 21, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Dave C - NJ

    Thune reminds me of Archie Bunker in that episode where Archie says they should pass out pistols to everyone on airplanes because that way, the hijackers won't try anything.

    So NRA and gun nuts, tell me how you determine who is going to remain "law abiding" once they purchase a gun....I'd love to borrow that crystal ball.

    July 21, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  14. Darth Vadik, CA

    Concealed gun?

    If you want republicans to be anti gun, just hang a poster of a black man concealing a gun, you'd be surprised how fast they would turn on that 2nd Amendment.

    July 21, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. Fla.

    States' rights exactly! Republicans harp on supposedly upholding individual state rights, yet this Republican-drafted amendment INFRINGES on those states' rights....another GOP fallacy.

    The federal government has no business imposing on states' gun laws. Nonsense.

    July 21, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Kate in SW Fla

    Whatever happened to states' rights? This is a flagrant abuse and I believe the intention is to propose something so outrageous that democrats will have to oppose it – it is a lunatic idea. But that is the intention. Since democrats have rolled over so often, the NRA was having a harder and harder time painting dems as opposed to their precious second amentment rights. Anyway, that is the intention of this – that and that only. I am serious, I was a Reagan Republican, I even voted for Papa Bush (but not Jr, just could not go there) but I will NEVER vote for another Republican again, ever, no matter what. I now see how totally political they are, with absolutely not one iota of concern for the citizens of this country. Never, and I mean it too.

    July 21, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    guns should be banned PERIOD

    July 21, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. JonDie

    "Supporters of the measure argue it would help deter criminals"

    There is absolutely NO evidence that this is true.

    "opponents claim it would endanger innocent people by effectively forcing most of the country to conform to regulations in states with the loosest gun ownership standards."

    Why should my state be forced to accept permits from states that have NO control over gun ownership by criminals? The state of Virginia immediately comes to mind as a state that promotes putting guns into the hands of criminals do that gun dealers can profit.

    July 21, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. Carol

    The 2nd amend. gives Americans the right to bear MUSKETS.

    If the fathers had known about uzis, they would have limited the 2nd amend.

    July 21, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Steve (the real one)

    Shouldn't the STATES decide? Yep,I think they should!

    July 21, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  21. stormerF

    In 1934 everyone could carry a gun and we were a more law abiding society,because you just did not know who was carrying a gun and who was not...Of course the criminals will not like it,they will have fewer people to prey on,with out risk to themselves.

    July 21, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  22. European-American

    Since when did it matter to Washington what individual sovereign states have to say?

    July 21, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  23. Susan

    I'm getting sick of so-called Democrats not supporting the president. They accepted the name and funds of the Democratic party and now they are playing right into the hands of the "party of no" by going their own way and delaying the passage of health care reform legislation–and now gere they go campaigning for the passage of concealed weapon legislation which is counter to the values which make most of us identify with the Democratic party.

    July 21, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  24. Steve from WI

    Hmmm.... how long will it be before Republicans turn around and start defending "states' rights" again when the issue is gay marriage?

    July 21, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  25. RR

    People who legally carry concealed weapons are not to be feared. It's the people who illegally carry them.

    How many people with concealed weapons permits commit violent crimes as opposed to the population at large? I'd wager they commit fewer violent crimes.

    July 21, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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