Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 25, 2015

Posts in "Guns"

October 9, 2015

Cornyn Pitching Mental Health as Response to Gun Violence (Video)

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, is taking the reins on a Republican response to mass shootings. (Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cornyn is taking the reins on a Republican response to mass shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the White House, frustrated with congressional inaction, weighs its own crackdown on guns, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican is looking to address the country’s cycle of mass killings with mental health legislation that includes a stronger background check system.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the majority whip, believes the mental health angle is an opportunity for consensus. Other Republicans have signaled similar sentiment, but Cornyn is the most prominent of them. Full story

By Matthew Fleming Posted at 10:20 a.m.
Guns, John Cornyn

October 7, 2015

Democrats to Outline Gun Control Principles After Oregon Shooting

Democrats, led by DPCC chairman Schumer, will hold a news conference Thursday on gun control. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats, led by DPCC chairman Schumer, will hold a news conference Thursday on gun control. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats will kick off their latest gun control effort Thursday on the steps of the Capitol.

A group of Democratic caucus members, including Oregon’s Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, are scheduled to take part. The most recent mass shooting took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Roseburg on Friday.

Full story

June 19, 2015

After Charleston Shooting, Washington Short on Answers

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.,  watch President Barack Obama speak about the Charleston shooting before holding their news conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery on budget negotiations Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators watch President Barack Obama speak about the Charleston shooting before holding their news conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery on budget negotiations Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the wake of the shooting Wednesday night at a South Carolina church that left nine people dead, many in Washington were calling for change that doesn’t appear to be coming quickly.

Legislators offered condolences throughout the day Thursday in statements and speeches. And some — mostly Democrats — reiterated as they have after past mass killings that it’s time for action on guns. Full story

March 5, 2015

Lawmakers Decry ATF’s Proposed AR-15 Bullet Restrictions

Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Vice President Joe Biden participate in the re-enactment swearing-in ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Daines, shown here being sworn-in earlier this year, is jumping into the controversy over new bullet restrictions proposed by the White House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An Obama administration proposal to prohibit certain bullets has been raising the ire of lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week, with senators on Thursday joining calls for the executive branch to back down.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., sent a letter Thursday to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones opposing restrictions on M855 “green tip” ammunition for the AR-15 rifle. The ATF’s draft framework proposes to roll back a 1986 exception granted to the bullets from a ban on “armor-piercing ammunition.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 4:56 p.m.
Guns, Policy

September 9, 2014

Watch Live: Senate Committee Holds Hearing on ‘Police Militarization’

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee holds a 10:30 a.m. hearing on federal programs providing equipment to state and local law enforcement. Amid the uproar in Ferguson, Mo., the Defense Department’s 1033 program has come under scrutiny from lawmakers, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., for contributing to “police militarization.”

Witnesses include officials from the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and a photojournalist from The St. Louis American Newspaper.


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By JM Rieger Posted at 9:31 a.m.
Guns, Policy, Politics, Videos

September 5, 2014

After Ferguson, Durbin May Seek Reforms to Police Militarization Programs

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

After police use of military equipment in Feguson, Mo., raised concerns of excessive force following the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., may seek to revamp two key Pentagon programs.

The Defense Department runs two programs that allow state and local police forces to receive or purchase excess military equipment — known as 1033 and 1122 respectively — and Durbin, who is also chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to voice his concerns.

“The adoption by local police departments of military-style tactics and their use of military equipment have provoked concern across the nation for a number of years, but the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, give new urgency to the need for an examination of the DoD programs that supply such equipment,” said Durbin, who also has jurisdiction over the matter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee

“I appreciate the briefing that DoD officials provided to my staff about these programs. Based on this briefing I have identified several areas of concern that I wanted to bring to your attention,” Durbin added. “I intend to ensure that these issues are addressed as the Administration and Congress review these programs and consider reforms.”

Durbin cited a lack of effective coordination between the Defense Department and the Justice Department, with respect to the 1033 program, and suggested that the Justice Department could play a significant role in ensuring that police departments have valid law enforcement purposes for the equipment, do not have a history of violations of federal laws or grant requirements with regard to federally-provided equipment, and are not the subject of any allegations or investigations that would raise concerns about the possession of the equipment.

Durbin also said that he is concerned that under the 1033 program there is no procedure for evaluating whether there has been any illegal or inappropriate use of equipment, particularly of firearms, explosive devices or military vehicles.

The lack of a requirement for training for 1033 related equipment also disturbed Durbin, but he noted that the Defense Department is not the appropriate entity to provide the training.

Durbin further recommended that an independent ombudsman be part of the complaint process in an effort to help instill community confidence that the programs are being run effectively.

“I look forward to working with you to ensure that any provision of excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement is carried out with the safeguards, accountability and oversight that our communities need and deserve,” Durbin said.

Durbin’s letter comes after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue for Tuesday.

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July 10, 2014

Senate Filibusters Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The bipartisan sportsmen’s bill championed by endangered Sen. Kay Hagan became another election year casualty today with a majority of the Senate refusing to end debate.

The North Carolina Democrat’s measure, which would expand hunting and fishing access on federal land, was falling well short of the 60 votes to invoke cloture and end debate on the measure, as a number of Democrats joined Republicans to rebuff Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after he moved to block amendments. Just 41 voted in support of cloture and 56 opposed.

Despite having broad bipartisan support, Republicans turned their nose up at the package after the Nevada Democrat filled the amendment tree yesterday, blocking the ability to get votes on their amendments.

Reid had urged Republicans to give him a reasonable list of amendments to approve that would lead to passage of the bill. He was concerned Republicans were more interested in scoring political points than in legislating. A slew of politically charged gun rights amendments had been filed to the proposal.

The scenario has played out increasingly in recent months as both parties seek to position themselves ahead of the November midterms.

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By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 12:35 p.m.

July 9, 2014

Gun Politics Overtake Hunting Bill

Gun politics appear all-but-certain to destroy any chance of advancing a bipartisan hunting, fishing and conservation package — and with it, a chance for Sen. Kay Hagan and other endangered Democrats to tout their bipartisan legislative bona fides ahead of the November elections.

The package had huge initial support on a test vote, but like so many other bills this Congress, it quickly devolved into a standoff over politically charged amendments. A fight over gun control isn’t what Democrats had in mind when they brought the bill to the floor, but that’s what they got.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., wants to broadly expand firearm access within the District of Columbia, and numerous other amendments by Republicans would expand access to firearms and ammunition, cheered on by the group Gun Owners of America. That group has blasted 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.” Full story

July 8, 2014

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.

Full story

June 19, 2014

Senator: Protect Gun Rights of Medical Marijuana Users

Walsh was sworn in on Feb. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Walsh was sworn in on Feb. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you use marijuana in a state that has legalized pot for medicinal purposes, Sen. John Walsh wants to make sure you don’t lose your guns.

The Democratic senator from Montana, appointed earlier this year and facing a difficult race on Nov. 4, has filed an amendment to a spending package being considered on the Senate floor.

Walsh joins libertarian leaning Sen. Rand Paul in attaching a marijuana-related provision to the broad spending bill that includes funding for Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture-FDA. But questions are arising over whether the Senate can complete work on the package because an agreement on amendments remains elusive.

Paul’s legislation would prevent the Department of Justice from blocking states attempting to implement their own laws related to medical marijuana.

Full story

May 30, 2014

Citing Isla Vista, Boxer to Introduce Gun Violence Prevention Measure

Boxer, right, could introduce her gun measure as early as next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Boxer, right, could introduce her gun measure as early as next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Citing the tragic shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she plans to introduce legislation that would provide families and persons close to potentially dangerous people with new options to prevent gun violence.

“It is haunting that the family of the gunman who committed this massacre in Isla Vista was desperate to stop a tragedy, and yet they lacked the tools to do so,” Boxer said in a release. “My bill would give families and associates who fear someone close to them could commit violence new tools to help prevent these tragedies.”

Boxer said her bill, which she could introduce as soon as next week, would allow families and others to go to court and seek a “gun violence prevention order” that would temporarily stop someone close to them who poses a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm. Full story

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 5:54 p.m.

May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger Shooting Prompts Feinstein to Blame NRA ‘Stranglehold’ on Guns

Elliot Rodger Feinstein NRA guns

Feinstein questioned why Elliot Rodger was allowed to own guns, and ripped the NRA’s “stranglehold” on Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree had Sen. Dianne Feinstein lamenting the “stranglehold” the NRA has over gun laws.

“The deadly shooting in Isla Vista is heartbreaking,” the California Democrat said Sunday in a statement. “Schools should be places of safety, not where students fear for their lives.”

Feinstein questioned why Elliot Rodger was able to legally obtain and keep his guns.

“We must ask ourselves if an individual whose family called police with concerns about mental health, who is receiving therapy and who has had several run-ins with police should be allowed to own multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. When anyone, no matter their mental health or history, can so easily obtain any gun they want and as many as they want—we must recognize there is a problem. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:21 p.m.

April 25, 2014

McConnell Pledges Gun Ownership Privacy Push to NRA

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association that if Republicans win the majority in November he would push, as majority leader, to pass a bill protecting gun ownership privacy.

“You should all know for sure, if I’m given the opportunity to lead a new Senate majority next year, I will work … to advance this important idea,” McConnell said.

“The privacy of law abiding gun owners needs to be protected,” he continued.
Full story

April 3, 2014

Fort Hood Shooting Has Harry Reid Talking Gun Control Again

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Wednesday shooting at Fort Hood made him wish that Congress would pass expanded background checks for gun purchases.

“As I was told today, this young man bought this gun a day or two before he killed these people,” Reid said. “Couldn’t we at least have background checks so that people who are ill mentally or felons shouldn’t be able to buy a gun? Even [National Rifle Association] members, the majority of them, support that.”

Reid could bring such a bill back to the floor this year.

“I would like to bring it back up; we need some more votes,” he said. Full story

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