Senate Republicans Vote Down Legislation that would Block Suspected Terrorists, Felons, Mentally Ill from Buying Guns

Senate Republicans Vote Down Legislation that would Block Suspected Terrorists, Felons, Mentally Ill from Buying Guns

"... Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who introduced a competing bill aimed at undercutting the provisions to block those on the terror watch list, warned that the Democratic legislation would mean 'the government can take from you valuable constitutional rights,' calling it 'un-American.' ..."

December 4, 2015

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans voted against barring suspected terrorists, felons and the mentally ill from getting guns on Thursday afternoon, parroting National Rifle Association arguments that doing so would strip some innocent people of their constitutional rights to gun access just a day after yet another massacre on U.S. soil.

A pair of Democratic measures - one to close background check loopholes to make it harder for felons and the mentally ill from buying guns, another to ban those on the terror watch list from buying guns - both went down in flames against near-unanimous GOP opposition.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told the Daily News that he was "aghast" that Republicans blocked the bills.

"To say it's okay for would-be terrorists to buy guns after what happened in Paris in California shows just a total disregard for public safety and a total fear of the NRA. and it's hard to believe the NRA could be so unreasonable. They're digging their own grave," he said.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the NRA is a "quasi-militant wing of the Republican Party" on the Senate floor Thursday morning before the vote.

"Those who choose to do the NRA's bidding will be held accountable by our constituents," Reid said. "Something has to be done. We must take a stand. The American people are desperately looking for help, some help, any help."

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who introduced a competing bill aimed at undercutting the provisions to block those on the terror watch list, warned that the Democratic legislation would mean "the government can take from you valuable constitutional rights," calling it "un-American."

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"You'd have to believe that the federal government is always right and is all-knowing" to support the legislation, Cornyn said, pointing out that not everyone on the terror watch list is a terrorist.

Sen. Chuck Grassley was even more fiery as he echoed the NRA, arguing background check legislation "won't prevent the next shooting or reduce crime or fix the mental health system" and warning Congress needs to "be worried about protecting the Second Amendment."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the bill focused on terror suspects, pointed out that the idea originated with the Bush administration in 2007.

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Her legislation was blocked, with all but one Republican and just one Democrat voting against it.

Republican senators first voted in favor of a half-measure that would allow the Department of Justice to issue an injunction against someone on the terror watch list within 72 hours of their attempt to purchase a gun. If that injunction doesn't go through, the sale goes forward, however. That amendment passed with just one Democratic supporter and one Republican voting against it.

Minutes later, most Republicans stood together to block resurrecting earlier legislation to improve the background check process. All four Republican senators running for president — Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — voted against it.