Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2015

Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Bill Sparks Gun Control Duel

Durbin says the measure could spark a fight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Durbin says the measure could spark a fight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

A bipartisan bundle of hunting and fishing legislation could get shot down by a partisan battle over gun control.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has drafted an amendment limiting the circumstances under which veterans can be denied access to firearms because of mental illness, a proposal the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat said would prompt a response from advocates of stricter gun control.

“If we open this to a gun debate, we’re going to hear both sides,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin told reporters Tuesday.

“We’re working on it,” the Illinois Democrat said when asked about drafting an amendment favoring more stringent policy regarding firearms. “Mr. Coburn has decided he wants an amendment. He wants to expand the carrying of firearms across America. Many of us want to reduce … the firearm violence across America.”

An effort by Durbin and the Democrats to push the issue comes as Chicago officials are grappling with a new wave of gun violence over the weekend. But the fight is heating up given that Coburn is just one of the Republicans with pro-gun amendments.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has an amendment that would allow expanded interstate transport of ammunition and firearms.

And the pro-gun group Gun Owners of America is claiming support from Cruz and other Republicans John Cornyn of Texas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah to flood the bill with amendments friendly to their cause.

“Senator Cornyn is prepared to offer a GOA-supported amendment to allow national concealed carry reciprocity. Senator Wicker has told us he wants to allow guns on the Army Corps of Engineers’ land,” the group said in a press release. “Senator Lee has told GOA he wants to change the Senate rules to prohibit any anti-gun amendments in the Senate. And Senators Cruz and Paul have ‘tons of amendments,’ including reciprocity, a restoration of gun rights for 175,000 veterans, and a shutdown of Eric Holder’s Operation Choke Point program (that is designed to close gun stores by cutting off their credit).”

Durbin had warned he would oppose amendments that aim to weaken gun laws.

“If, during debate on this bill, Senators try to add provisions to weaken the laws on the books when it comes to keeping our citizens safe from gun violence, I will strongly oppose those provisions, but for purposes of today’s procedural vote, I support moving forward on this bipartisan legislation,” Durbin cautioned in a statement Monday.

Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat in a hotly contested re-election race, introduced the underlying bill with components drafted by senators from both sides of the aisle. Coburn was the only Republican to vote against limiting debate on taking up the measure Monday evening. He was joined by 11 Democrats who have generally favored tighter controls on firearm purchasing or ownership.

“In putting our bill together, Sen. Murkowski and I tried to pull the best ideas from members of both of our parties. However, I do recognize that members on both sides of the aisle have ideas for how to strengthen this bill,” Hagan said on the floor Monday. “It is my hope we can take up, debate, and vote on sportsmen’s-related amendments this week. I encourage my colleagues who have amendments to file them and come to the floor to discuss them.”

Hagan may not get her wish — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., may once again block senators from offering amendments. That procedural move has doomed numerous bipartisan bills this Congress.

That would be just fine with Gun Owners of America, which dismissed the bill as a “fake ‘pro-gun’ bill designed to re-elect endangered anti-gun Democrats up in 2014 in pro-gun states,” and the “Harry Reid Preservation Act.”

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  1. JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    July 9, 2014
    5:51 a.m.

    The one good thing about this entire story within the story is….voila’, Durbin won’t be there in 2015 !! :-)

    • teapartyidiots

      July 9, 2014
      10:35 a.m.

      Oh, sweetie, you know nothing about Illinois politics. They didn’t even bother to run a real candidate against him, no GOP brass is campaigning with Oberweis, they’re all behind Rauner, and Illinois is NOT a pro-gun state, in fact, it’s the only one where a plurality supported the assault weapons ban, and our REPUBLICAN senator voted for it.

      • Ravi32

        July 9, 2014
        12:52 p.m.

        Oh honey baby it must upset you that over 750,000 assault rifles, were sold in Illinois alone since that silly ban expired. Or perhaps you find even more bothersome that gun murder dropped as both assault rifles and semi automatic handguns became a larger and larger portion of the guns there.

        And this must make you cry:

        • teapartyidiots

          July 9, 2014
          1:57 p.m.

          I actually don’t really care. Guns aren’t my issue. If you want to love in the OK Corral, be my guest, just keep it out of my neighborhood.

          • Adam R

            July 9, 2014
            2:33 p.m.

            A lot of law abiding gun owners would stand between you and a criminal to defend you, hope you realize that. The vast majority of law enforcement support armed citizens and they don’t support more gun laws. They know that armed citizens are making a difference when they (law enforcement) cant be everywhere.

          • teapartyidiots

            July 9, 2014
            3:15 p.m.

            Guns bore me. Have as many as you want, as long as you pass a background check and aren’t mentally ill.

          • tim

            July 9, 2014
            6:05 p.m.

            Don’t worry sweet tart. Responsible citizens will pass

          • Calmplexed

            July 9, 2014
            6:35 p.m.

            But here you are lamenting away on a gun story…

          • JSB3

            July 10, 2014
            1:34 p.m.

            No they don’t! That is a complete lie. Trollbot…

          • mtmisfit

            July 9, 2014
            6:55 p.m.

            The “wild west” had way less gun crime than modern day Chicago. Most of the wild west, and most of the perception of it, is a product of Hollywood not reality.

        • spencer60

          July 10, 2014
          7:25 a.m.

          God, we’ve lost the battle when even pro-rights folks call regular, semi-automatic rifles ‘assault rifles’.

  2. Mr. Hand

    July 9, 2014
    4:59 p.m.

    What’s wrong with Illinois? Could the sane parts of the state secede from Cook County? All the wackos seem to be in/around Chicago/

  3. jimkress

    July 9, 2014
    5:46 p.m.

    Democrats + RINOs is not equal to “bipartisan”. They have the identical, government is god philosophy.

    • tim

      July 9, 2014
      6:08 p.m.

      They are Leviathans. Lord Jesus Christ is my Faith.

  4. PaxMentis

    July 9, 2014
    5:56 p.m.

    “Bipartisan” means they have dug out the anti-liberty statists on BOTH sides of the aisle.

  5. jsutton

    July 9, 2014
    7:44 p.m.

    It is just unconscionable that a lawmaker would want to expand the ability of the mentally ill to own guns.

  6. David J. Dill

    July 10, 2014
    10:39 a.m.

    Hey, Dick. Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the nation but the most lax reputation of punishing illegal gun users. Dick, you are an idiot and I wish to God you would go spend some time in one of your beloved south side neighborhoods.

  7. JSB3

    July 10, 2014
    1:31 p.m.

    Hey Hey, NRA…how many kids did you kill today…. repeat

    • Daily Beatings

      July 10, 2014
      6:43 p.m.

      None today or yesterday or the day before, but how many kids has Obama killed with his drone strikes?

      Answer: 197

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