From The Washington Post:
Senate Democrats are scrambling to produce 40 votes — or a mere two-thirds of their caucus — to defeat a GOP-led push to override state gun laws.
Republicans have twice this year scored significant pro-gun victories with substantial moderate Democratic support. The minority party lured away a whopping 27 swing-state Democrats to support looser rules on guns in national parks. And a similar coalition has stalled the District of Columbia’s quest for House voting representation, by adding language to the Senate version to ease D.C. firearm restrictions.
The latest measure, offered by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), has far greater reach. Offered today as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, it would allow individuals to carry concealed firearms across state lines if they “have a valid permit or if, under their state of residence, they are entitled to do so,” Thune explained in a statement.
The Rethugs are all about states’ rights, aren’t they?
Thune and his allies contend that by overriding stricter state laws that limit the transport of firearms, the Thune measure would help to lower crime.
But Democrats, especially those who represent big cities, were aghast at the sweep of the amendment and are rallying mayors and governors to help win back earlier Democratic defectors. “This amendment is a bridge too far, and could endanger the safety of millions of Americans,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Schumer, who has pledged the filibuster the amendment, said it represented a breach of state rights.
The National Rifle Association called the Thune amendment “important and timely pro-gun reform” and urged its members to lobby lawmakers to support it, when it comes to a vote later this week.
Schumer and his Senate allies, including Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), are seeking to convince new Democratic senators, many from Western states where the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, that this measure is primarily a political taunt. Two key targets: Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both freshman Democratic senators from Colorado who voted with Republicans on the national parks measure.
Another target is Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who voted with Republicans on the national parks provision, but has since switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party and faces a primary challenge in his 2010 re-election bid.
Also, families and survivors of victims in the Virginia Tech shootings will run a full-page ad in Monday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch calling on Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner to vote against the amendment. Both lawmakers are counted in the party’s pro-gun camp.
The Thune amendment is cosponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), another Democrat who has voted consistently with the N.R.A.
WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement from Seattle (WA) Mayor Greg Nickels, U.S. Conference of Mayors President:
“For more than four decades mayors have called for, and have worked hard to achieve, reasonable gun safety legislation which would keep guns out of the hands of criminals. In the 15 years since the initial passage of the Brady Law and the now-expired assault weapons ban, however, passage of additional common-sense legislation has been an elusive goal.
“But this year, mayors’ efforts to provide for the safety of their residents are actually losing ground in the face of an all-out, across-the-board assault on gun safety on Capitol Hill. Currently, the gun lobby is not just opposing common sense laws, it is pushing members of Congress to offer amendments to legislation that will make it easier for criminals and others who shouldn’t have access to guns to acquire them and use them […]
“The American people need to be aware that public safety is being compromised by gun lobby amendments to disparate, unrelated legislation now moving through Congress. They need to be reminded of what’s at stake when more guns are on our streets: that every day in the United States there are approximately 84 deaths involving firearms, that 34 of these are homicides, and that well over half of these homicides – 56 percent – involve people age 29 and younger.
“Today, Congress is moving in the wrong direction. Instead of weakening the few protections against illegal guns currently on the books, our lawmakers should be moving toward reasonable changes in laws and regulations that would help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and give law enforcement the tools they need to fight crime. “Today, the American people should be asking their members of Congress: When did law enforcement and public safety in this country take a back seat to the gun lobby – and why are you going along?”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.