Republicans Say Filibuster No Waste of TIme

GOP senators worry gun bill put unrealistic burdens on law-abiding gun owners.

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President Obama comforts Jillian Soto, sister of Newtown teacher and shooting victim Victoria Soto, as they leave Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland Monday after arriving from Newtown, Conn.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to bring background checks to the floor Thursday adding that he is prepared to wait out a filibuster threat by more than a dozen Republican senators.

"They are going to filibuster a 92 percent issue," Reid said during a press conference referring to some polls showing support nationally for "universal" background checks. "It would be a real slap in the face to the American people not to do something on background checks, on school safety, on federal trafficking. The American people deserve a vote."

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On Tuesday President Obama flew 12 families whose children were killed in Newtown, Conn., to Washington where they appealed to lawmakers on the fence for new gun laws.

Reid will need 60 senators to overcome a GOP-led filibuster. And he will have to convince Democratic senators including Max Baucus, Mont., and Mark Pryor, Ark., to vote to bring the bill to the floor. Reid will also have to convince moderate Republicans to proceed on the legislation, even if they ultimately choose to vote against background checks.

So far Republican Sens. John McCain, Ariz., Johnny Isakson, Ga., Susan Collins, Maine, Mark Kirk, Ill., Lindsey Graham, S.C., and Tom Coburn, Okla. have all agreed that they won't support a filibuster.

But a fracture within the GOP, has not stopped tea party darlings like Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, and Rand Paul, Ky., from leading the filibuster charge.

 

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So if background checks are so popular, why do some Republicans want to stop a vote on them?

"Universal" background checks could lead to a national registry

Cruz, like many other Republicans, worries that the language of the background check bill puts the burden disproportionately on lawful gun owners and could lead to a national gun registry and even eventual confiscation.

"For a so-called universal background check system to work, the federal government would have to maintain a federal registry of every firearm owned by every person in this country," Cruz says. "In my opinion, the federal government has no business of keeping a federal registry of law-abiding citizens who are exercising a constitutional right. And historically, gun registries have served as the necessary predicate for gun taxation or confiscation."

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Democrats, however, continue to argue that nothing in the bill prescribes creating a national registry. Although the current legislation does require individuals to keep records of private gun sales.

The answer to gun violence is not more laws, it is to enforce the laws already on the books.

During committee hearings, Republicans were critical of the administration's record on enforcement of current gun laws. Cruz argues that before lawmakers go making new laws that put more restrictions on gun ownership, the Department of Justice should prosecute the thousands of felons who attempt to buy guns illegally every year.

"Of all the information that came out of the Judiciary Committee hearings, the most disturbing was an extended pattern of non prosecution of felons trying to illegally purchase guns by the Obama Justice Department," Cruz says. "In the year 2010, over 15,000 felons and fugitives attempted to illegally purchase guns. Of those 15,000, the Obama Justice Department only prosecuted 44."

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The Background Check bIll makes it a crime to lend your family member your gun for an extended period of time.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, has been dubious of background checks from the beginning because he says the bill puts unrealistic restrictions on families and friends who hunt or shoot together.

Grassley argues the current language makes it a crime for family members to share guns for longer than seven days without administering a background check. The only exception is if a family member gives a direct relative a "bona fide gift." "The bill's family exception applies to gifts only. It does not permit lending a gun to a family member. The bill does not permit a temporary transfer in the home," Grassley said in a prepared statement about the bill. "So a gun owner cannot bring a new gun to a friend's house and let him handle it briefly. If a gun owner and a friend return from the shooting range, then stop at the friend's house, the friend can't handle the owner's gun to show him how better to clean it."