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Senate Shoots Down All Four Gun-Grab Bills

From the New York Times — The Senate on Monday failed to advance four separate measures aimed at curbing gun sales, the latest display of congressional inaction after a mass shooting.

Eight days after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub, the Senate deadlocked, largely along party lines, on amendments to block people on the federal terrorism watch list from buying guns and to close loopholes in background check laws. As the votes were held, families of gun violence victims looked on from the Senate chamber.

Further action on gun safety measures or mental health provisions seemed unlikely before the fall election, given the rush to finish a series of spending bills and the relatively limited time that Congress will be in session before November.

In addition, the four gun measures were attached to legislation that contains several other thorny issues, such as the question of whether to take passports away from terrorism suspects, which suggests there will be little chance for further debate.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has been working on a compromise, disliked by both party leaders, that would bar the sale of guns to terrorism suspects who appear on either the government’s no-fly list or the so-called selectee list of people who receive additional scrutiny at airports. That bill, which is not as broad as the Democratic watch-list measure that failed on Monday, could surface later in the week.

Partisanship and the power of the gun lobby played a large role in the amendments’ failure. Democrats structured their bills in a way that was almost certain to repel Republicans, while Republicans responded with bills equally distasteful to Democrats.

Democrats vowed to hammer Republicans during the campaign this fall.

“Our constituents see a disturbing pattern of inaction,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said on the Senate floor on Monday. “Sadly, our efforts are blocked by the Republican Congress, who take their marching orders from the National Rifle Association.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced one of the failed measures, which could have prevented anyone on the federal terrorism watch list and other terrorist databases from buying firearms or explosives. Democratstried unsuccessfully to pass this measure after the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. in December.

“It’s time for us to stand up,” Ms. Feinstein said. “That’s not too much to ask.”

Republicans, arguing that the list of people affected would be too broad and that the measure would not offer proper due process, put forward a competing measure. That amendment would have required the government to delay, during a 72-hour review period, the purchase of a gun by anyone who is a terrorism suspect or has been the subject of a terrorism investigation within the last five years.

“No one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns or explosives,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on the Senate floor on Monday.

The two other measures that failed included one offered by SenatorChristopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who led a filibuster last week to make a point on guns. His measure sought to tighten background checks for gun buyers at gun shows and on the internet. Republicans offered a measure that was more focused on the nation’s mental health system.

The Obama administration, which has been pushing for a variety of new gun control legislation, vowed to press on.

“The view of the administration is that the American people should be engaged in the debate,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Monday. “So the fact that this is something that is being actively debated and considered in the Senate does represent incremental progress.”

Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has largely — if often incoherently — supported the positions of the majority of Republicans, who want to preserve gun rights. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has made her support for gun control a central tenet of her campaign.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rival, voted with the party from a desk in the Senate chamber, where he sat, looking glum, as colleagues came to greet him.

The votes came on the same day that the Supreme Court declined to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a Connecticut law, enacted in 2013 after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that bans many semiautomatic rifles.

The Senate measures seemed doomed almost as soon as they were offered. After the Sandy Hook massacre, a bipartisan background check measure failed, even though Democrats controlled the Senate. Democrats, now in the minority, replaced that measure with one, sponsored by Mr. Murphy, that would expand background checks to all gun sales except loans and gifts between family members. Republicans said it was too broad. And even Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted against it.

Democrats rejected the response measure, focused on mental health provisions, as insufficient.

Still, some Republicans in tough re-election fights had to consider each measure carefully. One of them, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said both measures to prevent terrorists from getting guns were inadequate, but voted for both.

While the politics of gun control tends to recede in general election campaigns, the Orlando shooting has brought the issue back to the front burner.

“We will keep pushing,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, “until they see the light.”

About Brandon P

I believe you can learn all you'd ever need to know about a person by listening to how they describe an individuals freedom to protect themselves. I'm politically incorrect (and proud of it) and when it comes to gun rights for law abiding citizens, I am NEVER neutral!

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