McCain: ‘I don’t understand’ threats to block gun bill debate
April 7th, 2013
12:32 PM ET
1 year ago

McCain: ‘I don’t understand’ threats to block gun bill debate

(CNN) - Sen. John McCain said Sunday that he opposes the thought of filibustering a debate over gun legislation that will probably be brought to the Senate floor this week, despite threats of such action by fellow Republican senators.

“I don't understand it. The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand,” Arizona's McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

A trio of first-term GOP senators–Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas–stated in a letter last month that they will block any gun control legislation that they consider a threat to Second Amendment rights.

Several other Republican senators joined in, and in an expanded letter to be sent Monday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, they wrote that they would oppose a bill that "would infringe on the American people's constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance."

The additional names include Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin; Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming; Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.

The three-paragraph letter doesn't include the word "filibuster" but appears to be a warning that the Republican will vehemently stand against any "vehicle for any additional gun restrictions."

McCain, who also criticized Paul’s filibuster last month over the administration’s drone policy, said Sunday that he would not encourage such an approach.

“I don't understand it,” he said. "What are we afraid of?”

Although recent polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor an expansion of the background check system to include private transactions, such as those made at gun shows, sharp division over the issue is expected in the Senate.

The upper chamber is on schedule to begin voting on gun control measures as soon as this week, when Congress returns from its spring break, but Democratic sources admit that the gun bill as currently written does not have the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

The powerful National Rifle Association is staunchly opposed to the bill. It favors expanding the system to include more data on those with a history of mental health issues but fears that a broader expansion or records of sales could violate Second Amendment rights and lead to further restrictions.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is shaping up to be an influential figure on the bill’s trajectory, as he strongly opposes a point in the legislation on keeping records on gun owners.

Meanwhile, the White House has been ratcheting up its own pressure on Congress to pass the legislation. President Obama urged action last week when he traveled to Colorado, site of a movie theater massacre in July. On Monday, Obama will make a visit to Hartford, Connecticut, not far from the Newtown elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed nearly four months ago.

"On the eve of Senate consideration of gun safety proposals the President will speak, as he did at the State of the Union, about the obligations the nation has to children lost in Newtown and other victims of gun violence to act on these proposals," a White House official said.

McCain said Sunday that his decision on whether to support the bill coming to the Senate would hang on a multitude of questions, indicating further the need for debate.

“It depends on how they're carried out, how long, what the depth of it is,” he said of the background checks. “This is another reason why we need to go to the floor. Everybody wants the same goal, and that is to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally disabled. And background checks are being conducted. Are they sufficient? Are there ways we can improve those? Then I think that's a subject the American people and the Congress could be helped by if we have a vigorous discussion.”

– CNN’s Dana Bash, Ted Barrett and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • John McCain
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Dap916

    McCain wants to be on CNN and Fox News and CBS and MSNBC after he retires. He's setting himself up to do that with his controversial remarks. That's all McCain is about...nothing more. It's wrong, but we have to understand this man's mindset.

    April 7, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. John McCain

    My fellow Americans, this will help save the lives of your brothers, your sisters, your mothers, and countless other innocents. It deserves an open debate.

    April 7, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Candidate Obama was correct when he said "rural voters cling to guns and religion". Most of these hillbillies who scream about the 2nd Amendment never even read it!

    April 7, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. cp

    Sen. McCain is correct. We do not need a filibuster. It is very clear that the NRA has a hold over many members of the House and Senate. Their ideas are not options. We need to make gun safety a priority. We need to stop all of this violence. No one needs to fire 60 bullets to hunt. Hunting is a sport for most people and please tell us why you need that much ammunition to kill a single animal.

    April 7, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Chris

    @ Paul who said
    "Guns should belong only in the hands of armed forces and law enforcement in any civilized society."
    I suppose just like African dictatorships, China, Taiwan, and North Korea?

    April 7, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. samuel e. gunther

    "Guns should belong only in the hands of armed forces and law enforcement in any civilized society." – MAO, Hitler, Husein, Castro...

    April 7, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  7. cel1

    the second amendment is meant to arm a 'well regulated militia'. We have that in the armed forces, national guard, coast guard and police forces. Like it or not, it is not a necessity for private citizens to be armed to the teeth. There should be limits on how many weapons and what type they can be.

    April 7, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. Fubarack

    McCain is correct, but for the wrong reasons,....let the dems cast their votes, so the people can vote them out later.

    April 7, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. Chris

    More people are killed by car keys than by assault weapons...

    April 7, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Mike Mentges

    RINO – Go Back to your hole, If he is in your area vote him out of office. Replace these RINO's with ones like Rand Paul. They are our only hope!

    April 7, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. eric

    Don't make decisions for me how I am supposed to keep my family safe unles you want me making decisions for you about what religion to raise your kids.

    April 7, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. riiiiiii

    Difference between today's democrats and republicans?
    Republicans will actually criticize republicans, democrats will never criticize democrats.
    You should be ashamed of yourself John McCain, i hope you get voted out.
    Thank you for your time.

    April 7, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Jim in Florida

    Actually this is not totally about gun laws but is certainly about government surveillance of individuals who wish to purchase a gun. I now personally don't trust the Federal Government to legally use the massive data that is being collected on Americans. It may sound limited and harmless but the government, espcially a socislist Obama type government , does not have any qualms about using what should be personal data to harrass the law abiding individual.

    Left winger politicians and media wailed with horro when Bush had Congress pass the Patriot Act, why , the left wing just could not stomach surveillance of a Muslim but somehow loves it if the Government is used to slowly buy surely deny Americans the right to buy a gun andf the allotment of bullets that the Goverment will allow you.

    Anyone who thinks that the EXPANSION OF BACKGROUND CHECKS (there is a system in place) will prevent mass shootings is a few cards short of a full deck. The Theater shooter passed a background check by the way.

    On this board I read where the naive believe only the military and law enforcement (both controlled by Government) should have guns. In an Obama Utopia this sounds great, only everyone forgets there isn't any method that is being proposed by the Government to seek out and take guns from criminals.

    When the Government gets serious about taking guns from inner city thugs in Chicago, for example (check the body count in Chicago lately, libs?) ....then they can come for mine.

    Others call gun owners Confederates on this board – that's the Obama strategy to attack the South. It's actually pathethic given the daily carnage in Chicago – dem be Yankees killing each other in the Northen inner cities with guns daily. Gosh, Newtown isn't in the South, Colorado is considered "Southern" ....check those geographic mass killing locations. What is up with that?

    Destroy the private health care system with Obamacare, make people dependent upon the Government. Market those "food stamp" EBT cards , make people dependent upon the Government. Obama lies as he claims tobe the Protector of the Middle Class as he proposes program after program that is designed from the ground up to destroy the Middle Class.

    Take away the normal hard working taxpaying American's ability to keep and bear arms to protect his or her family from the gun toting Yankee inner city thugs and Obama's jack booted Government thugs....

    The the destruction of the Middle Class will be complete.

    Obama is playing the Saul Alinsky playbook and the media just goes along (incompetence there more than anything else).

    McCain should know better. Obama and Reid don't want debate – it's Obama's way or the highway.

    April 7, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. Equalizer357

    MCcain is drunk

    April 7, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  15. mountainlady

    I haven't agreed with a lot of what Senator McCain has had to say in recent months but this time I do. Preventing any debate and vote is not what America is about. If the 2nd Amendment and the arguments of the far right cannot stand up to scrutiny, filibuster is a pretty cowardly way to avoid the problem.

    April 7, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. Brad

    Oppostion to background checks is a kneejerk reaction and has zip to do with the right to own arms. I have Concealed Permits from 2 states, NY and Florida. For both of those, especially for NY, I had to give them my Name, Address, DOB, Height, Weight, SS #, Color of skin, hair and eyes and for NY I had to give them the Make, Model and Caliber, and Serial Numbers for all guns that I owned. The SN information was listed right on the back of the Permit that was issued. What they are asking for now is a lot less than I gave willingly just to get a permit. In the words of the old lady in the Wendy Ads, Wheres the Beef??

    April 7, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. krehator

    "Guns should belong only in the hands of armed forces and law enforcement in any civilized society."

    North Korea agrees with you.

    April 7, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. Joe

    90% American are for Universal Background checks ? This is the wrong question because so many people are sheep.

    The real question should be " Are you for Universal Background Checks, that only include law abiding citizens. The mentally ill and criminals will be exempt ? This is the rue facts about background checks. No database exist or will be allowed ot exist for the mentally ill thanks to the ACLU and Criminals will not fill out the paperwork.

    So knowing the facts, do we really have 90% of America for this poiliticle stunt ?

    April 7, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Bob

    Mcain is indeed a "rino". and an old one that has seen better days. as far as these cnn polls go...they are so totally biased it really ISNT funny. when is the last time you have ever participated in or talked to somebody that has taken these polls????... new laws arent needed. be honest,democrats...you want all firearms removed from citizens hands.period.

    April 7, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. DPB

    How would this bill have stopped any of the previous events we have witnessed. I don't believe any of these guns were sold by private sales...This bill will just create more gov't "fees" and become a source of income for the feds...

    Think for yourself people...

    April 7, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. tarura

    Senator McCain says, "Everybody wants the same goal, and that is to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally disabled."

    Unfortunately, the gun control bill takes guns away from the law abiding citizens, but criminals will find a way to get them, regardless.

    It's time for you to retire, Mr. McCain

    April 7, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  22. havenasp

    “I don't understand it. The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand,” uhh NO it's for the people to voice through their senators and make laws via those voices. as well as debating back and forth. not to "let people know where you stand on issues" I don't give a rats ass where ya stand on issues. Listen to the people and that's it!! you were voted in, and will definitely be voted out.

    April 7, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. Selmers

    Who's this guy? Ohhhh yeah. The loser who ran for president.

    April 7, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. Rick

    McCain needs to retire

    April 7, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. wilson comas

    This is my opinion: This is not about The 2nd Amendment, The people or New town according to the NRA, is about Money. NRA is a billion dollar company making billion dollars of sell. You really think anyone in their right mind will do the right thing? The NRA may it clear! 'In order to take down a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun'. What is the difference between a sword and a gun? Only one difference weapon have change over the century but they both still kill. I'm really tried The NRA saying they speak for the people, 'They don't'. They don't speak for me, my family or my friends and so on. And for those Republican and Dem. if you feel your place in office is more important than the people, then leave now or resign and save your humidity because at the ending you were too afraid to stand up what is right and you will lose your seat coming 2014. The NRA have no power over us their concern is there money there business going down. The quote of Christ: Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. The NRA is the sword. And we the people believe there a limitation to the nonsense the NRA is saying. And those who believe they need their guns, No one is saying you can't what we all saying is limit magazine and start a background check. The people have spoken and agree Background check should be approved. Even the NRA members also agree. Again this is not about what The NRA is saying, is all about MONEY!! We all must stand tall and face our conviction and show The NRA and The government, The people is not scare of their government, The Government is scare of the people. And if the vote is not pass Rep and Dem. is not The NRA who going to save your seat to get reelected is THE PEOPLE..

    April 7, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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