Democrats get their long-sought votes on gun control a week after the massacre in Orlando, Florida, but election-year politics and the powerful National Rifle Association dim any prospects for changes in the nation’s laws.
More about the guns used in the Orlando shooting:
Learn more about the gun used in the Orlando shootingThe gun is similiar to the AR-15 assault rifle, which was first developed for military use in the Vietnam War.
An in-depth look into the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle
The weapon used in the Orlando shootings was a semi-automatic rifle. Those rifles, like the AR-15, are very popular among sportsmen and women who often use them for recreation. Gun control supporters call the AR-15, and similar rifles, assault weapons. Some say they’re so dangerous, they should be banned. CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
An in-depth look into the AR-15 semi-automatic rifleThe weapon used in the Orlando shootings was a semi-automatic rifle. Those rifles, like the AR-15, are very popular among sportsmen and women who often use them for recreation. Gun control supporters call the AR-15, and similar rifles, assault weapons. Some say they're so dangerous, they should be banned.
The Senate plans to take four procedural votes Monday on amendments that would improve or expand background checks and make it harder for suspected terrorists to purchase guns. None is expected to get the 60 votes required for further action.
Democrats were also expected to block two Republican amendments, arguing that they fall short in controlling the sales of guns. Republicans were expected to block two Democratic amendments, contending that they threaten the constitutional rights of gun owners.
Details on the amendments:
- Amendment by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut that would require background checks for all gun sales and improve information in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Amendment by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that would boost funds for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and ensure that the correct records are uploaded into the system in a timely manner. Would also clarify language surrounding mental health issues that would disqualify someone from buying a gun.
- Amendment by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that would let the government bar sales of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists. Feinstein offered a similar amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, but the Republican-run Senate rejected the proposal on a near party-line vote. The Justice Department has endorsed the legislation, saying it gives the department “an important additional tool to prevent the sale of guns to suspected terrorists by licensed firearms dealers while ensuring protection of the department’s operational and investigative sensitivities.”
- Amendment by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas that would allow the government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for 72 hours, but require prosecutors to go to court to show probable cause to block the sale permanently.The National Rifle Association backs the legislation, which the Senate also rejected in December. The NRA said in a statement that “if an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”
Gun control remains at a stalemate as few lawmakers are willing to challenge the NRA and no mass shooting the past five years — from Phoenix; to Aurora, Colorado; to Newtown, Connecticut; to Charleston, South Carolina; to San Bernardino, California — has led to new laws. Polls show large numbers of Americans agree with the need for at least some limited gun measures such as background checks. But Democrats have been unable to translate that into legislation because the NRA is able to mobilize and energize voters who will threaten to vote lawmakers out on the gun issue alone.
“Laws didn’t stop them in Boston. Laws didn’t stop them in San Bernardino, where you had every type of gun control law that you could have. And they didn’t stop them in Paris, where people can’t even own guns,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Watch Sen. Murphy’s filibuster:
The four votes on Monday night are the result of a deal after Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., filibustered for almost 15 hours seeking action in response to the Orlando shooting that killed 49 people and injured 53.
Murphy signaled that passage of the measures was unlikely and focused on the response to his filibuster.
“It wasn’t just that 40 senators came to the floor and supported my effort to get these votes but there were millions of people all across the country who rose up and who joined our effort,” Murphy said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Separately, moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is working with other Republicans, as well as talking to Democrats, on a bill that would prevent people on the no-fly list — a smaller universe than targeted by Democrats — from getting guns. But her bill had not been blessed by GOP leaders and it was unclear if it would get a vote.
Story by the Associated Press