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The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate today shot down President Obama’s effort to control guns in a series of votes.
The votes were on amendments to a bill by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., advanced last week, 68-31, to the Senate floor for debate.
The first, and key, amendment was to expand background checks widely. It failed 54-46 under a requirement of 60 votes for adoption.
The White House has lobbied intensely across the country, including using emotional pleas from the families of victims of the Newtown school shooting. Obama administration officials had confirmed the president’s agenda was sinking. Reuters reported the frustration level was so high that press secretary Jay Carney took to the podium of the briefing room to urge senators to back Obama.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the assembled body that Congress should be focused on “stopping violent criminals” but not “targeting law-abiding citizens.”
“The approach that is effective is targeting violent criminals while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Cruz blamed the Obama Justice Department for failing to prosecute gun criminals, noting that of 48,000 felons or fugitives who tried to obtain weapons, only 44 were prosecuted.
The support just wasn’t there. Among the legislation that senators scheduled for vote was:
- The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and others. It expands background checks to gun shows and Internet sales. It also authorizes $400 million to upgrade the national background check database. It failed 54-46 under a requirement of 60 votes for adoption.
- A proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to swap the background check provisions of the existing bill. It would target those who lie on background check applications and raise access to information about those who have been found mentally impaired by a court. It failed 52-48.
- The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and others. It would enable those who purchase guns for others to avoid a background check. It failed 58-42.
- Concealed-carry reciprocity from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and others. It would treat state-sponsored concealed carry permits like driver’s licenses, making them valid across state lines. It failed 57-43
- The Assault Weapons Ban from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and others. It targets hundreds of types of weapons for a complete ban. It failed, 40 to 60.
- A plan from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., to require a court order finding a person a danger to himself or herself or others before that person is banned from buying a gun. Failed 56-44.
- The Large-Capacity Magazine Feeding Devices Amendment from Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.. It bans devices holding more than 10 rounds but creates a special class of citizen – the off-duty police officer – for exemption. Failed 46-54.
- A plan from Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., to penalize a state financially if officials publicly release gun ownership information.
- And Sen. Tom Harkin’s plan to encourage suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
Far-left television personality Piers Morgan reacted to the votes.
“Imagine those Newtown family members at the Senate today – suddenly realizing their lawmakers don’t give a stuff about their dead children,” he said.
The Democrats were unable even to corral their own for the key vote on background checks, losing the support of Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” called the vote a “damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington.”
The National Rifle Association said that the plan would have failed to reduce violent crime or keep kids safe in schools. But the group said it would continue to work on ways to prosecute violent criminals, fix a broken mental health system and protect children.
Fox News had reported a list of senators who, while they might have agreed to discuss the issues, were not willing to support them.
“I supported having a debate on the issue of violent crime, but as I made clear from the outset, I will oppose any legislation that chips away at our constitutional rights,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said.
Democrats need to retain all of their 55 members — doubtful because several are up for re-election next year — plus get five Republicans to join them to reach the 60-vote threshold.
And even if the overarching bill, which seeks stiffer penalties for gun trafficking and more spending on school safety, is passed by the Senate in some form, the Republicans hold the majority in the House.
Democrats on many levels nationwide have been trying to advance Obama’s gun-control strategy.
WND has reported that in Colorado, where Democrats control the House, Senate and governor’s office, many of the ideas being pushed at the federal level already have been approved. And the state’s sheriffs are launching a lawsuit over what they see as unconstitutional demands.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said, “The legislators ignored the will of the people and passed these unconstitutional gun laws, and they need to be held accountable for their decision.”
Colorado was a test case for the Obama administration, which dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to lobby for the state limits.
David Kopel, an attorney with the Independence Institute, which will handle a lawsuit against Colorado’s legislation, said the brief is still being prepared, but he expects to file it in the next few weeks.
“We are still working out the details, but there is a very solid case here. We are still working on some of the specifics, however we do feel we have a variety of strong legal claims that are worth bringing to court,” he said.
State officials admitted they were doing the bidding of the White House. In February, Biden flew to the state to strong-arm Democratic lawmakers who were feeling pressure from their constituents to vote against the bills.
“He (Biden) said it would send a strong message to the rest of the country that a Western state had passed gun-control bills,” Tony Exhum, a Democratic lawmaker from Colorado Springs, told the Denver Post.
House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino, an open homosexual who also pursued a “civil unions” agenda this year, admitted the gun-control bills introduced by fellow Democrats had national implications.
“I was shocked that he called. He said he thought the bills could help them on a national level,” Ferrandino said.
The Colorado gun battle also created a number of opportunities for Democrat gaffes. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., for example, displayed her ignorance of ammunition magazines.
“I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now they’re going to shoot them; so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot, and there won’t be any more available,” she said.
The Denver Post said DeGette didn't appear to understand that a firearm magazine can be reloaded with more bullets.
Another notable comment came from state Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, who scolded a witness opposing one of the gun restrictions.
Amanda Collins, 27, of Reno, Nev., was telling her story of being assaulted and explained that had she been carrying a concealed weapon, the incident might have ended differently.
"I just want to say that, actually statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun," Hudak said. "And, chances are that if you would have had a gun, then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you."
Hudak continued, speaking over the committee witness, "The Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence says that every one woman who used a handgun in self-defense, 83 here are killed by them."
Finally able to resume her testimony, Collins said, "Senator, you weren't there. I know without a doubt [the outcome would have been different with a gun].
"He already had a weapon," she told the meeting of the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. "He didn't need mine."
Then there was the comment from state Rep. Joe Salazar.
He said that a woman who feels threatened by rape on a college campus doesn't need to be armed because she can use a call box to get help.
Salazar's statement came in a debate over a proposal to ban citizens possessing a concealed-carry permit from being armed on university campuses.
"It's why we have call boxes," said Salazar, "it's why we have safe zones, it's why we have the whistles. Because you just don't know who you're gonna be shooting at.
"And you don't know if you feel like you're gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone's been following you around, or if you feel like you're in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody."
WND also has reported that Jim Sitton, who lost multiple family members to a shooting, delivered a message to lawmakers and citizens who advocate restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.
"[I understand] what it's like to be completely helpless and powerless when someone attacks your family with a gun. … For me, it comes down very simply to, when someone bursts into your home with murderous intent in their heart, wanting to kill you and your family, you have a choice: You either choose to be armed and trained to protect yourself – or you choose not to arm and protect yourself and your family."
He said congressional plans for more limits are not foolproof. He noted the government had five opportunities to rein in the man who eventually shot and killed his family members and failed.