UPDATE: Sen. Coburn pulled from the floor the amendment requiring the government to report ammunition sales and missing firearms in order to prioritize the carry vote, that could pass. Unfortunately, too many Democrats were afraid to buck the White House and their leadership, so the amendment failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage.
The Democrats who were not brave enough to vote for a pro-Second Amendment bill were Senate Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Leahy, Klobuchar, Wyden, Nelson and Bennet. Sens. Merkley, Udall and Warner were the only Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014 who switched their vote on the right to bear arms from four years ago.
Eleven Democrats voted in favor: Sens. Tester, Pryor, Baucus, Begich, Donnelly, Hagan, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Pryor, Landrieu and Shaheen. Sen. Angus King, Maine Independent, also voted in favor. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois was the only Republican to vote against the right of Americans to bear arms in national park areas controlled by the corps of engineers. The final vote was 56 to 43.
While President Obama keeps pounding away to get votes to pass gun restrictions in the Senate, pro-Second Amendment supporters are pushing the upper chamber in the opposite direction.
Sen. Tom Coburn introduced two amendments Tuesday to strengthen the rights of gun owners and keep the federal government in check. The Oklahoma Republican added the bills to water resources legislation which is expected to be voted on Wednesday afternoon.
I asked Dr. Coburn’s spokesman John Hart why the senator made this move now. “Sen. Coburn believes that gun-free zones disarm everyone but the assailant,” he replied. “This amendment will give senators another opportunity to not merely defend but expand Second Amendment rights.”
One Coburn amendment would require all federal agencies to report the rounds of ammunition and firearms purchased or acquired. The Sooner State senator has been closely monitoring the large ammunition purchases by the Obama administration. In particular, the Department of Homeland Security bought 360 million rounds from 2010 to 2012, had 264 million rounds on hand as of November and plans to spend another $37 million on bullets this year.
The president continues to ignore the failures of Operation Fast and Furious, instead telling Mexicans last week that his gun-control efforts in the U.S. will make them safer. Dr. Coburn would hopefully avert another gun-running operation by forcing the feds to report all stolen or lost firearms. The Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency would be exempt from these regulations.
The other amendment would overturn the gun ban on the 12 million acres managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. In 2009, Dr. Coburn sponsored a bill that repealed the gun carry ban in national parks. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan, picking up 18 Democrats to get 67 “ayes.”
However, the Army unilaterally said that the right to bear arms still did not apply to corps projects lands. This bill would close that loophole to ensure that laws on federal government land is consistent. Americans who are legally carrying under state law will not unknowingly break federal law when crossing into corps land.
The interesting vote will be on whether the same Democrats who voted for the parks bill four years ago, but who recently opted for more gun-control, will keep to their original positions. Those include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Bill Nelson of Florida. Expect only those up for reelection in 2014 to buck the White House on this one.
(The rest of the the Democrats who voted for the original carry rights bill have been consistent in votes this year as supporters of the Second Amendment: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Jon Tester of Montana, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Udall of Colorado.)
Mr. Obama continues to push for gun-control because he wants to control more of individual’s rights from Washington. Dr. Coburn is correct to push back on this agenda and restart efforts to strengthen constitutional rights so that power can being to shift back from Uncle Sam.