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. Gard Gardiner

    Agreed Mr. Brown!

    April 7, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. CG

    Wish people stop using amendments as absolutes.. learn THY english and know that the amendments are called thus, so that we can 'amend' them as required to reflect the changes in our times. Our forefathers knew that we needed to be armed at that point in time, but would probably have hoped for a day when such measures were no longer required as we would be living in peace.

    Sadly it aint so.

    April 7, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. PaulG

    People generally don't want more gun control, they are becoming wise to the agenda progressive dems are trying to push and are saying NO. Enforce existing law, fund a robust mental health system, deal with the root causes that lead to violence, specifically poverty.

    April 7, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. John Maroney

    Couldn't be any more clear that McCain is a puppet for the globalists.

    April 7, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    “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.”

    Ummm, no.... sir you work for the people, you don't tell them where to stand.

    April 7, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. advocatusdiaboli

    Most guns used in crime are not bought through the "loop holes" anywaY: A 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state prison inmates who had used or possessed firearms in the course of their crimes found that 79 percent acquired their firearms from "street/illegal sources" or "friends or family." Only 1.7 percent obtained firearms from anyone (dealer or non-dealer) at a gun show or flea market.

    But the real issue is the national registration that the Obama Administration says is required to make them work. registration allows government abuse and confiscation. It has already happened and will happen again. A NJ posted a pic of his son with his legal AR-15, Child protective services and police visited his home to check all his guns. in NY, a man's 10yo son threaten a bully that he'd bring a bb gun and shot him—the father's gun permit was revoked and they cam to confiscate his guns—he wisely transferred then to friend and a dealer before hand. New Orleans police confiscated guns during Katrina. No registration.

    April 7, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  7. guest718

    Finally, a sane and rational position from a republican.

    April 7, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. SkyKing169

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people [not an individual] to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.[

    April 7, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. Dennis

    I don't mind the background check. I am opposed to the gun registry – the list of guns and gun owners. If I sell a gun to another person and the system requires me to enter the buyer's info, the seller's info and the gun serial number, then that's a registry.

    I will never be in favor of giving the government a complete list of what guns every person owns. They've already shown us they're willing to forcibly, illegally confiscate weapons (Katrina). Not about to give them another chance to do it nationally.

    April 7, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. boogertree

    NO Mccain! Your job is to represent the will of the people.

    April 7, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Hey John – those guys are backed by YOUR pick, Sarah. Getting the idea yet of what you chose??? Idiot.

    April 7, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. Larry L

    Tea Party Republicans do not want debate because it's far easier defend the radical right-wing with N.R.A. sound-bites than with logical discussion. Each of the Senators threatening to filibuster is hoping to secure the love of the far-right-wing with their blind obedience to Wayne La Pierre. They ignore the 90% of Americans who believe in background checks for all gun purchases. That 90% will remember these radicals when the next school gets attacked with guns purchased via the "gun-show loophole".

    April 7, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. Mike

    If they need to ask that many questions about the bill, it's not worth presenting.

    April 7, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. dick Delson

    Republicans love having guns in the hands of anyone...even lunatics.

    April 7, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. Porfirio

    J. McCain I admire you for all you've done for this country..but lately you're going south on several key issues......these pll in congress want to take our gun rights away and make us vulnerable,,so what is your problem ??????

    April 7, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. Jim

    McCain doesn't understand much of anything these days...especially what it means to be a Conservative.

    April 7, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. movarth

    bill of rights.

    April 7, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Ryan Winters

    John McCain is not sounding rational in this regards. The senate should not waste any time debating anything to do with the 2nd amendment as the federal government has nothing to do with a states' right issue. They shall not infringe so why debate?

    April 7, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Tom

    We are Liberal Progressive Democrats...and we will control you...you pathetic little sheep.
    First we will pass a law requiring background checks to buy a gun.
    Then, due to budget cuts, we will lay off all the government workers who do the back ground checks.
    Vola !! Now the wait time for a background check is 20 years...no wait...100 years. In just one smooth move we have dis-armed these citizens...these pathetic little mindless worthless little sheep

    April 7, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. bob wood

    Mr.mcCain needs to go ahead and just join the democratic party.because he has proven himself of late to be worthless as a real republican.

    April 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Bill

    My opinion, would be to go after the mentally ill and criminals. To enforce the laws already on the books for criminals and to have better reporting from the psychiatric community to ATF for back ground checks on the mentally ill. To go after the law abiding, sane citizen is ludicrous. We have the laws on the books right now that are not being enforced, what a joke. This is one of the reasons why we need a part time senate and congress with pay and benefit cuts. Too much time on their hands to come up with redundant feel good laws instead of tackling the budget and waste spending that goes on. Not to mention the GRAFT.

    April 7, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. JJ

    He's got a political reason to say this. That's why they call him McSame.

    April 7, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Nancy

    I'm from Canada. WHAT are you people thinking!!!! So many innocent people killed at on time. WHEN will it stop? Tell the NRA HELP STOP THE MADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 7, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Melissa

    Lol. This is funny. Even major Rethugs are getting sick of the childish political games.

    April 7, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. McBob79

    Wow senator, not sure I've heard that comment out of your mouth on numerous other bills that have threatened filibuster. Oh well, guess that's just more politics.

    April 7, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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