Gun filibuster appears to misfire for conservative backers
April 10th, 2013
07:26 PM ET
9 years ago

Gun filibuster appears to misfire for conservative backers

Washington (CNN) - A filibuster of major gun legislation by a vocal band of conservative Republican senators may have misfired, as a growing number of their GOP colleagues appear ready to help break it when it comes up for a vote on Thursday.

The public split is a rarity for Senate Republicans, who over the past few years have kept divisions to a minimum.

At issue is whether to begin debate on the contentious legislation that would, among other things, expand background checks, restrict straw-purchases, and toughen laws on gun trafficking.

Fourteen Republicans have publicly vowed to block debate from happening, forcing Democratic leaders to get 60 votes in order to take up the bill.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – under pressure from his right flank as he readies a re-election run -signed onto the filibuster even as other senators pushed for an open debate.

“The senate is a place to debate,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who will vote to break the filibuster. “As far as I’m concerned, for me not to be willing to defend the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans on the Senate floor is like joining the Grand Ole Opry and not being willing to sing.”

Sen. John Cornyn, who as the Senate Republican Whip is second in the GOP chain of command, said he expected the filibuster would be broken because many GOP senators are “eager” to amend the bill, which was written largely by Democrats.

“I think there will be a fulsome debate,” he said. “Notwithstanding the signals from some quarters, we welcome a fulsome debate on this. There are some people with some very good ideas, like Sen. (Lindsey) Graham (R-South Carolina) on the mental health issues that should be a sweet spot that could actually pull people together to do something that would be meaningful in preventing a repetition” of mass violence.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, over the weekend was the first to criticize GOP colleagues calling for a filibuster.

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page chastised the filibustering Republicans for not wanting to take up the bill.

“If conservatives want to prove their gun-control bona fides, the way to do it is to debate the merits and vote on the floor. They can always filibuster the final bill if they want to, but it makes no sense to paint themselves into a political box canyon before even knowing what they’re voting on,” the paper said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of the leaders of the filibuster, told conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham Wednesday that the criticism of it has been “silly.”

“The critics have said we have to have a debate, we need to have a vote. We are having a debate and we’re going to have a vote,” he said. “The only question is what should the vote threshold be for legislation that would violate potentially the bill of rights. I think it should be a minimum of 60 votes.”

Cruz accused fellow Republicans of rushing to debate a bill without knowing much about it.

“I’ll point out that a lot of the Republicans who say they are happy to shut off the debate and move to the bill, they don’t even know what the bill contains,” Cruz said. “It’s reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi talking about Obamacare saying we have to pass it to find what it’s in it. The bill that Republicans are going on television and saying we gotta move to and vote on, they still don’t know the details because the Democrats haven’t released the details of the bill they’re moving to proceed to.”

Another senator backing the filibuster, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, went to the Senate floor on Wednesday to defend his cause. He argued the filibuster was helpful because the delay gives senators more time to consider the measure.

“Contrary to the statements made by the president and my friends across the aisle, and even a few in my own caucus, we have no intention of preventing debate or votes. Quite the opposite. By objecting to the motion to proceed, we guarantee that the Senate and the American people have at least three additional days to assess and evaluate exactly how this particular bill will affect the rights of law-abiding citizens and whether it will have any significant impact on crime.”

Alexander, who hasn’t indicated how he will vote on a final bill, said open debate on the issue will be good for the country.

“That’s what senators are supposed to do. Instead of having deals made and agreements made in back rooms and never having bills and never having amendments, open it up and let the Senate work. I think the American people would prefer that I think we’ll have better government if we do.”

Filed under: Gun rights • Senate
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Name Uche Agonsi

    Its a grim irony that opposition against gun control, while fighting for their unrestricted right to own fire arm, are desparately trying to infringe on another provision of bill of rights........the right/freedom of speech.......And talking of rights to possess fire arms, it can never be without qualification as no right is without restraint.....even the right of speech.

    April 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Nicholas Smith

    A few notes on Gun Background Checks.

    A Russian Officer once said that, "...The only reason we didn't attack you was that you can't get two Americans to agree on anything, and you're all heavily armed."

    Gun Background Checks would probably be acceptable to the anti-gun control folks if it could be guaranteed that the weapon serial numbers are not included in the Gun Background Checks.

    What is a "Gun Background Check?" A Gun Background Check is a request for buyer personal history information from the gun dealer to the law enforcement agency of the Federal Government Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The purchaser and dealer complete a Federal Form 4473, and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). If the person wanting to buy the gun is cleared by the ATF then the gun dealer is by law allowed to sell them the gun.

    The problem for anti-gun control folks is that the Gun Background Check is tied to the serial number of the gun, and the anti-gun control folks believe that the government cannot have that information that they consider a violation of their 2nd Amendment Rights.

    This is worth repeating.

    Make no mistake, Gun Background Checks are de facto Gun Registration. The dealer keeps the Gun Background Check Forms, but the gun serial numbers are forever tied to the buyer through these Forms, and in case of invasion, the first thing the enemy would do is to get those Forms then to get the weapons. Just like in the movie "Red Dawn." And, a disarmed public is an enslaved public.

    Now, if you doubt this Gun Background Check information, call your local gun dealer and ask about it.

    Gun Registration is unconstitutional, therefore de facto Gun Registration Gun Background Checks are unconstitutional. QED.

    April 10, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. Mike Smith

    "“I think there will be a fulsome debate,” he said. “Notwithstanding the signals from some quarters, we welcome a fulsome debate on this. "

    I think we should welcome debate, even though it may be fulsome (effusive or overdone, usually of compliments).

    April 10, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  4. SecrtSqurl

    Even Republicans are finally starting to understand that doing the will of the people is why they got elected. Everyone was onboard universal background checks as common sense. Hopefully this will lead to the legislation that is sorely needed.

    April 10, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  5. Bobby Mead

    I wish Republicans filibuster this, because then they will filibuster themselves in 2014. They are really becoming a party of cuckoos . God Bless these cuckoos

    April 10, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  6. mountainlady

    I'm relieved that there are still Republicans in Congress who want to represent the American people instead of special interests and that some of them have the courage to stand up against the extremists. Filibuster is a cowards response to not having a reasonable argument against a proposed item of legislation. I'd also like to see this same willingness to debate and negotiate applied to other issues facing Congress instead of total obstruction of all the business of the people which the GOP has produced in the past years.

    April 10, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  7. yogi

    How refreshing, the idiocy in the Republican party knows boundaries, but only if reelection is at stake.

    April 10, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  8. JennyTX

    Ted Cruz is an embarrassment to Texas.

    April 10, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  9. Patrick

    It's truly pathetic that the Republicans care only about a fetus, but once you are born they don't care that someone illegally obtains a weapon or obtains a military weapon (designed to kill only) and then maims or kills innocent men, women and children. And then they call themselves "Christian".

    April 10, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  10. California

    April 10, 2013

    Democratic Austin City Council member and potential next mayor Mike Martinez admitted during a speech that the Obama administration’s long term gun control agenda is focused on banning firearms altogether.

    April 11, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  11. Lenny Pincus

    Cruz is execrable. Why is Texas such a wasteland?

    April 11, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  12. Nicholas Smith


    them. But if you want to live here, remember that your right to live freely here was won with the

    lives and blood of a legion of people with guns that fought and killed with those guns. In fact,

    they are still doing it. So quit complaining, quit trying to disarm the rest of us, and be happy.

    God bless and keep you.

    April 11, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  13. Chris

    The Republicans who have vowed to fillibuster have not said they would stop a debate, they only intend to make the Democrats have 60 votes to pass anything. This is good for the minority voter out there, as that is what having a Republic is all about. A Democracy in pure form is 2 wolves and a sheep arguing what is for dinner, or in other words, mob rule. I do not mean minority as in race for those who are illiterate, but minority meaning the group that is less than the majority, in this case those who support gun rights. The 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, the current Senate is controlled by Democrats, thus the Republicans are simply protecting YOUR RIGHTS by use of a fillibuster, even if you do not understand their reasons and still want to throw your rights away anyhow.

    April 11, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  14. Rogue351

    I want one person to ask the question of "Responsible Gun Owners". How did do many guns get onto the streets of the United states and into the hands of the criminals. Something is wrong and the NRA id unwilling to address the problem. If "Responsible Gun Owners" are actually responsible then who is selling to the criminals ? If "Responsible gun owners" are actually protecting their weapons then how are these weapons being stolen and ending up in the hands of criminals ? If mandatory back ground checks for EVERy person buying a gun could stop one person from getting a gun that should not have a gun then why is it such a bad idea ? Basically if you are not in trouble with the government, a criminal, planning a mass attack then who cares if the government knows you have a gun ? That is called paranoia. The same old true for car registration, IRS tax collections, Drawing from social security. The government already knows who you are, Were you live, etc. If you have nothing to hide then why is a back ground check a problem. I think all guns should be legal as long as they are registered. As long as the owners are actually as they say they are "Responsible gun owners". The only reason not to trust the government is because of the messages put forth by people like Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity. These people make their money ratcheting up fear and NONE of their listeners believe this. they think of them as protecting the constitution. When actually the constitution would not protect Anyone from owning anything more than a single shot musket if it was held to the time it was written. So, what this basically boils down to is a bunch of paranoid people that know they are paranoid and are afraid because of new laws than they could possibly losses their guns. And the fact is, if they are this paranoid maybe they should not have guns in the first place.

    April 11, 2013 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  15. Rogue351

    The single reason the NRA is against back ground checks is because it would hurt the bottom line of the NRA. DO NOT be fooled they are not fighting for the "Right Thing" or the constitution they are fighting for dollars. Dollars regardless who dies. This is more moral issue than it is anything else.

    April 11, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  16. vidal808

    It's a shame! These republican filibuster kings should be all fired and replaced. My friends and I will make sure those guys are voted out of office next time around. What a bunch of morones.....

    April 11, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  17. Beefburger

    Illinois and Chicago in particular have the toughest gun control laws in the country. But yet everyday there is a new headline of shootings and death. How often do you hear the same about Arizona? Perhaps a group of anti-gun (a.k.a. easy target) liberals in Tuscon awhile back know.

    April 11, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  18. Keef

    A "fulsome" debate, huh? Does the learned senna-tuh from Tex-a** even know what "fulsome" MEANS?

    "Offensive to taste and sensibilities. Excessively flattering." Look it up.

    As Bugs would say: what a maroon.

    April 11, 2013 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  19. Shark

    One of these days, people will look at who pays for a candidate to be elected and will not vote for them as they are already bought and paid for by special interest groups. I will probably a million year old fossil by the time that happens, but I am an optimist anyways.

    April 11, 2013 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  20. Bernard obryant

    Senate need to get it right for our sake of our country. Pressure will do it

    April 11, 2013 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  21. J.V.Hodgson

    These guys clearly do not trust thier own representatives in the comittee or representatives working on the bill. Also you cannot take a bill to the floor of the house for voting unless it has been written in its legislative language. I suggest they get a copy stay up all night and decide which parts they want to debate... thir colleagues on the committe can tell them the bare bones of the contentious parts already.

    April 11, 2013 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  22. robertfallin

    That "growing number of colleagues" will find themselves out of a job or worse, if the government starts confiscating firearms and locking people up for willfull disobedience.

    April 11, 2013 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  23. ghost

    2014 cannot get here fast enough. Repugs be gone. Do not bother to return until you are ready to your job which have not done for the past 4 years and counting.

    April 11, 2013 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  24. Marie MD

    To quote the weeper of the house. This is what the American people want!

    April 11, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  25. mique

    Ditch backwater Mitch.

    April 11, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
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