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Republicans Try to Get Another Gun Rights Vote Out of the Dems

July 20, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: The amendment was defeated on 7/22 by a vote of 58-39.

The Democrats may hold a 60-vote, filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate, but on one big issue, the Republicans have managed to run all over them. Twice so far this session, Republicans have passed controversial gun rights legislation by picking off dozens of Democratic votes from rural and southern states. In February, the Senate voted 62-36 to allow people to carry guns in Washington D.C. and in May they voted 67-29 to allow people to bring guns into national parks.

Now the Republicans are trying for a third gun rights amendment, their furthest reaching yet, and it is expected to pass the Senate with the help of Democratic defections as early as Tuesday,

The amendment, No. 1816 to S. 1390, the Department of Defense Authorization Act, would allow people who are legally allowed to carry concealed weapons in their home state to carry their weapons in any of the 48 states that have some form of concealed carry law. This would effectively let people from states with very liberal gun laws, like Vermont or Florida, to carry their guns into states that require more training and where it’s much harder for a person to get a gun, like Massachusetts and New Jersey. Under the amendment, once gun owners leave their home states, they would be required to follow the concealed carry laws of the state they are in, including limitations on what kinds of places they can bring their guns to.

The amendment is being offered by Sen. John Thune [R, SD], pictured above. It has one Democratic co-sponsor, freshman Sen. Mark Begich [D, AK], affording it bipartisan status.

Thune considers the legislation a crime prevention proposal. “Research shows that states with concealed carry laws enjoy significantly lower violent crimes rates than those states that do not,” Thune said in a statement. “Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm just by looking at a potential victim, they are less likely to commit crimes when they fear that they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed.”

Many of the Democrats that voted for the D.C. gun amendment (23) and the national parks gun amendment (27) are expected to vote for the Thune amendment. This includes prominent Democrats such asSen. Max Baucus [D, MT] and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV].

Some Democrats, however, have vowed to do everything they can to block the amendment from passing. Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY], Sen. Richard Durbin [D, IL] Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] and Sen. Frank Lautenberg [D, NJ] are planning to hold a filibuster when the bill comes to the Senate floor and are doing everything they can in the meantime to convince their fellow Democrats that voting for the amendment would be a mistake, both politically and for public safety in their states.

Below is Schumer’s statement on the amendment:

This amendment is a bridge too far, and could endanger the safety of millions of Americans. Each state has carefully crafted its concealed-carry laws in the way that makes the most sense to protect its citizens. Clearly, large, urban areas merit a different standard than rural areas. To gut the ability of local police and sheriffs to determine who should be able to carry a concealed weapon makes no sense. It could reverse the dramatic success we’vie had in reducing crime in most all parts of America. In the past, the gun lobby has had as its rallying cry, ‘Let each state decide.’ With this amendment, they are doing a 180-degree flip. Whether you are pro-gun or pro-gun control, this measure deserves to be defeated. We will do everything we can to stop this poisonous amendment from being enacted.

Here are a few news and blog post about the Thune amendment:

  • Families, Va Tech survivors oppose US gun measure (AP).
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