“I don’t understand it,” said Sen. John McCain on CBS’s Face the Nation, when asked about a looming filibuster on gun control legislation being spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT).
“The purpose of the United States senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand,” continued the senior senator from Arizona.
It was a few weeks ago when the three tea-party favorites sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, saying that they would “oppose the motion to proceed” (aka ‘filibuster) any bill that subverts the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
The decision to draft the letter came in the wake of Reid’s decision to push for a Senate bill that would include a mandate for universal background checks, while also allowing amendatory votes for bans on standard capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and so-called, military-style ‘assault’ weapons.
Though, for Sen. McCain, the decision to obstruct or delay a legislative deliberation on gun control is baffling and does a disservice to the American people.
“I don’t understand it,” McCain repeated. “What are we afraid of” Why would we not want [to], if this issue is as important as all of us think it is…why not take it up and debate?”
“The American people will profit from it,” added McCain.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who also appeared on the Sunday-morning political talk show, agreed with McCain, arguing that a filibuster to derail the debate on gun control is “very wrong.”
“This is a big issue,” said Schumer. “There are deeply felt convictions on both sides. John and I clearly would not agree, but we certainly should at least be allowed to get on the floor and have debate.”
As mentioned, one of the focal points will be universal background checks – which would require all gun purchasers to undergo criminal background checks, even those who buy a firearm from a private seller online or at a gun show – something that Schumer believes is an attainable goal.
“If we go to the floor, I’m still hopeful that what I call the sweet spot – background checks – can succeed,” said Schumer.
“We’re working hard, they are Senator Manchin and Senator Kirk, have a few ideas that might modify the proposal that we put in there,” Schumer continued. “As long as they don’t impair the effectiveness, I’m entertaining those, and, hopefully, people will rise to the occasion.
McCain was also asked about UBCs, specifically whether he would “favor background checks on gun sales at gun shows?”
“It really depends on how they’re carried out, how long, what the depth of it is,” said McCain. “This is another reason why we need to go to the floor. Maybe we could – everybody wants the same goal, and that is to keep the guns out of– out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally disabled.”
Thoughts and Commentary
McCain and Schumer have a point. While I appreciate and applaud the Cruz-led effort to filibuster the Senate’s gun control bill, I think it should go to a vote. Why? Because – like McCain indicated – I want to know where lawmakers stand on this issue.
Moreover, I’m curious to see who will cave. That is, who will succumb to pressure from the Obama Administration and turn on their gun-owning constituents. And, on the flip side, who will stand up for gun rights.
There are several pro-gun Democrats who are up for re-election next year. How they vote on this bill could determine whether they have a job in 2014. In short, voting for the wrong bill could be political suicide.
I should also note that I’m fairly confident that the GOP-led House will water down or dismantle any draconian gun bill that comes out of the Senate. So, even if a gun control bill does clear the Senate, it faces a real uphill battle in the House. Yet, another reason why a filibuster may be unnecessary or, at least, why I oppose one.
What are your thoughts? Do you support a filibuster? Or do you want the Senate to vote on Reid’s gun control bill?
To avoid the filibuster or to stop one in progress, three fifths of the full Senate – 60 out of 100 senators- would have to invoke cloture, which means to bring the debate to an end so that a vote can ensue. Given the makeup of the Senate, it’s likely that even if Cruz or Paul or Lee initiates a filibuster, there will be enough votes to override it.