July 21st, 2009
05:48 PM ET
13 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. mike kaplan

    And where are all you "state's rights" people on this one? Seems like you should be against it: the federal government comes in and forces every state in the Union to adopt the weakest laws in the country, whether we like it or not. The states rights folks should be all over this. Something tells me they'll just keep quiet on this one.

    July 21, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. Willy G

    Is Thune and the GOP pandering to the NRA again?

    Whatever happened to the Republican mantra of States' Rights?

    This ammendment denies the governments of those 48 states from making a choice to honor, or not to honor, CC permits from other states.

    I guess Concealed Carry trumps all.

    July 21, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  3. Obama only creates TAXES

    Some Democrates are in cahoots with the criminal type, just look at their records as TAX CHEATS and liers. It was known in advance that the CROOKED DEMS would come after our guns. Dems and Obama want the USA to be another USSR and Obama wants to be a dictator like Hitler.

    July 21, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. Brad In Canada

    Used to be safe driving in some states who understand the need for gun control, but, if you all are going "Texan' everywhere, I'll just stay home and spend my money here. You probably don't want a peace loving Canadian down there any way.

    July 21, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. aCorNN watchdog

    Boy, Harry Reid will say or do anything to save his job!
    He's gone from Obama point man to conservative sounding democrat in record time.....give him the Spector award!

    The boogeyman is coming in 2010 Harry!

    July 21, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. cluelessinky

    Schumer always presents himself as a scholar yet he is a fool. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the constitution supports licenses and permits from one state being recognized by another. How is a conceal carry permit any different in recognition than another state's drivers license?

    July 21, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  7. AC

    Actually, I'd feel safer knowing a responsible gun owner may be in the crowd around me. Maybe the potential criminal may think twice too.

    July 21, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. jack

    Criminals beware!
    All citizens are packing heat.
    The new worry would not be capture by the police but by the citizen next to them in a store, sidewalk, bank or any place they choose to commit a crime that C

    July 21, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  9. Ronald Schwartz

    This is a great amendment and should be passed as quickly as
    possible. it eliminates the confusion and allows us to carry on any trip except Ill and wisc. which are trying to pass concealed carry laws as I write.
    this needs to be supported.

    July 21, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    Hey – they should all go to Arizona.They can carry concealed weapons in a public bar there. Betcha not many people out drinking these days.

    Hmmmm – wonder how that is affecting McCain beer sales?

    July 21, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. ib

    For probably the first time in my life I agree with Reid on something. I'm shocked that he is supporting this. The only threat this is it shows how out of touch NY & Calif. are but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

    July 21, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  12. jack

    That's weird! while typing my sentence my comment was posted?

    Criminals beware!
    All citizens are packing heat.
    The new worry for crooks would not be capture by the police but their own execution whilst in the middle of committing that crime by some citizen who just happens to have a gun permit to carry a concealed weapon.
    The man who walked into a church and shot an unarmed man to death would not have made it out the door alive. He too would have been shot dead before making it out the door of the church.

    If you don't have a gun, your a victim in waiting.
    With a gun, your an avenger of wrong.

    Those aren't the risks a criminal wants to take. They want to prey on the weak. With a gun, or the possibility of you carrying a gun makes the decision to rob that much more difficult.

    Do I want to be dead?
    Or do I want to be alive?

    July 21, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. Real Talk

    Its funny how the people who live in the middle of no where with a 0% crime rate scream they need guns for protection the most.

    July 21, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  14. Scott

    This is a divisive issue due to the sheer number of offsetting truths involved. There is however, one dominant perspective: It's the victim's ability to meet or exceed the threat that takes control from the criminal.
    If your family were being victimized by a criminal, would you rather be in the midst of 10 people with a c.w.p. or 10 well intentioned but unarmed people who hold up their cell phone and forcefully state "halt or I'll call 911."

    July 21, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  15. TCM

    those that seek permits are usually the law abiding, tax paying citizens that uphold the constitutions...oops...I guess no one in the White House would qualify...

    July 21, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  16. menopause

    Sounds a bit like the Republicans are trying to enforce the original intent and driving purpose of the 14th amendment, if you ask me.

    July 21, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. David Frier

    I think that allowing for a nationwide Concealed Weapon Permit holder to carry a concealed weapon in all of the United States is an excellent Plan. This would allow Law Abiding Citizens who are concdealed weapon permit holders to be armed for Self Defense anywhere they travel.

    July 21, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  18. Colleen

    SInce Senator Thune is content to ignore States Rights with this issue, will he show the same enthusiasm for Gay Marriages to be honored in all states since only a few now recognize them?? Come on Senator Thune – if we are going to trample States Rights in the name of the Second Amendment, it should be done across the board with all issues!

    July 21, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. Ohio D

    It should be passed. At least in Ohio, concealed carry permit holders have undergone specific training classes, range time and endured lengthy and in-depth background checks by law enforcement. There is no reason that we should not be able to travel with these same rights.

    July 21, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  20. Susan (Michigan)

    Great, I'm staying out of national parks due to concealed weapons, now I'll have to worry about being on the highway with loony NRA supporters who sincerely believe that their guns "don't kill people." Of course, these same geniuses are sure Obama is some alien too. Please don't aid and abet this madness!

    July 21, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. DDS -- NRA Life Member

    Since 1987, when Florida became the first of a string of states passing "shall issue" concealed carry laws, the CCW permit holders of those states have shown that they are more law-abiding than the general public and more responsible in their firearms use than the police. Why do Sens. Feinstein, Lautenberg and Schumer think those same people are going to cross state lines into New Jersey, New York, or California and become raging, gunslinging, homicidal maniacs? In fact, these three singing fools are singing the same song that has preceded the passage of every "shall issue" law since 1987. In not one single case has their predictions of blood in the streets come true. You would think the press would have stopped listening by now, but the press is holding the sheet music and chimeing in on the chorus. Go back and read the editorials from 1987 in the Miami Herald and Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinal. If their predictions had come true you would think at least one state of the 34 would have repealed their CCW law by now. Hasn't happened.

    July 21, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  22. Michael Arnaud

    I guess Feinstein and Schumer don't believe that honest citizens have the right to defend themselves anywhere at anytime. If these opponents of this measure are so afraid of it, how about doing something about the CRIMINALS running loose on our streets instead of the LAW ABIDING CITIZENS who just want to be safe whereever they go.

    July 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |

    Correction that is: H.R.45.gov

    July 21, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  24. James, Ho. TX

    What happened to: LOVE,LOVE.LOVE ?

    July 21, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  25. DLHanna

    I live in a part of DC where your sleep is often disrupted by gunfire and helicopters. I have to watch out for people who may have a concealed weapon every time I want to walk somewhere. Guns for hunting is fine. But, why do you want to carry an AK-47 on the bus?

    July 21, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
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