Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 4, 2015

Sportmen’s Bill Faces Gun Amendment Gauntlet (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:01 p.m. | The bipartisan sportsmen’s bill appeared on the verge of collapse Wednesday.

As usual, the feud is about considering amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., moved to block all amendments by filling the amendment tree and end debate, but said he was willing to consider a limited number.

“If you want an amendment process, bring me a reasonable list that leads to passage of the bill,” he said of the GOP.

Republicans have been calling for an open amendment process, and have proposed numerous gun amendments that threaten to turn the bill into a political minefield.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski, the lead Republican compiling the package with Democrat Kay Hagan of North Carolina, gave an all-too-familiar floor speech about oft-mythical “regular order.”

The Alaska Republican conceded the Senate was “probably unlikely” to move forward on the bipartisan assortment of bills without considering an assortment of relevant amendments. Relevancy is a broader standard than germaneness, meaning any deal might well include a slew of uncomfortable gun votes.

“The Republican Conference is absolutely prepared to vote on all relevant amendments,” Murkowski said. “Let’s get moving on these relevant amendments.”

Murkowski noted that not all amendments are broad in scope.

“I know that Sen. [Mary L.] Landrieu has an amendment that’s very unique to Louisiana,” Murkowski said, citing a proposal from the Energy and Natural Resources chairwoman about deer hunting rights.

But it isn’t amendments such as Landrieu’s that are likely to cause trouble. There are firearm policy amendments being lined up on both sides. That includes everything from the interstate transportation of ammunition to a sweeping overhaul of gun control in the District of Columbia. That last amendment has been filed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

On the other side, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin wants to impose stiff criminal penalties for “straw purchasers” of firearms, citing the spate of violence last weekend in Chicago in a Wednesday morning floor speech. Other Democrats  advocating firearm safety are working on proposals as well, including Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn.

Durbin noted that his home state of Illinois has regions with very different views on firearm ownership.

“I think I may be an exception, but I welcome this debate. I want this debate. I want an opportunity to raise important issues about gun violence and gun safety in america,” Durbin said. “And I’m going to offer an amendment … which stiffens the penalties for those who purchase guns to give them to another person or sell them to another person to commit a crime.”

“What I said in Chicago, i’ll say on the floor of the Senate. Girlfriends, wake up. When that thug sends (you) to buy a gun, under this amendment, you … run the risk of spending 15 years of your life in a federal prison,” the Illinois Democrat said.

Durbin sounded a similar tone to Murkowski about the possibility the amendment process might not work, however.

“This senator is going to offer this amendment. I hope I get my chance,” Durbin said. “I hope the filibusters don’t stop me.”

It’s unclear where exactly such a filibuster might come from, but it could plausibly be from both sides of the aisle, given the political risks associated with opening the door to a broad gun safety debate.

Sarah Chacko contributed to this story.

Comments (36)

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  1. rsubber

    July 9, 2014
    1:54 p.m.

    Let’s face it, the dispute boils down to this: the defenders of “gun rights” won’t agree to passage of any bill that includes any new restrictions on gun purchase and gun ownership.
    Plain and simple.
    It’s not about “amendments,” it’s about challenging every single effort to place more controls on buying and owning guns.
    We have too many guns in America.
    Too many dead people.
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    • Arizona Don

      July 10, 2014
      5:45 p.m.

      Less guns does not now or has it ever in history guaranteed less violence. Without a gun how does a 85 lb 65 year old lady protect herself against a 230 lb, 25 year old man intent on robbing and maybe killing her? Whether he is armed or not makes no difference in a case like this. How does a 25 year old man protect himself against a mob of 5 punks intent on robbing him and perhaps killing him?

      Law enforcement has no obligation to protect any individual from harm. None! That was the determination of the supreme court. As one who worked law enforcement, I can tell you the primary duty is investigating to find the offender after the crime has happened.

      In the final analysis there is only one person responsible for protecting you. Have any idea who that is?

    • Derrick Schnur

      July 11, 2014
      1:33 a.m.

      Too many dead people?!? Evidently not! If there are individuals still committing crimes against innocent citizens, then there are not enough dead people yet. Look at the population numbers. The population needs to be reduced. Frankly, I don’t care how it is done, just as long as it gets done. The sooner the better! This is one of the only issues in which I agree with Republicans on, if not even more so! Here in Arizona we do not have that many violent crimes with exception to a few small areas, in which there needs to be an increase in so that the problem gets rid of itself. Grab a front row seat and some popcorn. The audience can handle the victors of these squabbles–with pleasure.
      It is not as bad as you all seem to think it is. Relax, you’ll live longer!

  2. choosecompassionalways

    July 9, 2014
    3:36 p.m.

    Honestly, I hope this bill crashes and burns a fiery death. If I understand it correctly, this legislation stipulates that hunting and trapping activities take priority over any other recreational activities, such as hiking, on public lands.
    Who does this legislation benefit? Why would any sane person support more killing on public lands? We have state “game” departments waging war on wildlife, federal Wildlife “Services” waging war on wildlife, and legions of bloodthirsty “sportsmen and sportswomen” waging war on wildlife. What kind of society are we?

    • Arizona Don

      July 10, 2014
      5:56 p.m.

      Game management usually performed by state agencies like a fish & game or game & fish in some states, is as a matter of fact why we have the game we have today. Without those agencies game (wild life) nearly disappeared in the United States of America in the late 19th century and early 20th century. They are a good thing not a bad thing. Game management is necessary if all hunting were stopped the game would disappear in a matter of a few years.

      Educate yourself on what game management does before you reach an idiotic decision like banning hunting. However, it should not take preference over other sport activity like hiking for instance. To the best of my knowledge there is no place it does. There is no reason, if common sense is used, either should interfere with the other.

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