At least 14 senators are now standing in the way of bringing comprehensive gun control legislation to a vote. Of those 14 senators, nearly all of them hail from deep red states, and nearly all of them possess the top rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Collectively, they represent the legislative face of opposition to gun control, even in the face of 91% support among Americans for universal background checks.
In a letter Monday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrat who has been shepherding the legislation to passage, 13 of those senators explained the reasons for their filibuster.
“We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance,” read the letter.
The 13 Republican senators who signed the letter overwhelmingly hail from red states: Kentucky’s Rand Paul; Utah’s Mike Lee; Texas’ Ted Cruz; Florida’s Marco Rubio; Oklahoma’s James Inhofe; Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran from Kansas; North Carolina’s Richard Burr; Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Wyoming’s Mike Enzi; James Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Indiana’s Dan Coats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said shortly after the letter was written he too would join the filibuster.
Only Wisconsin out of the above states, and the notorious swing state of Florida went for Obama twice. Indiana and North Carolina narrowly voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but both of those states are traditionally deep red and reverted back to voting for the Republican presidential candidate in the following election. The states of Kentucky, Kansas, and Idaho all had both of their senators sign onto the filibuster threat.
Moreover, nearly all of those threatening filibuster possess an A grade from the gun lobby. The NRA gave Rubio a B and Coats a C grade. None of them come from the top 10 states with the highest level of gun violence.
Senator Rob Portman, R-Oh., said Tuesday that was unsure whether he would join his colleagues in threatening to filibuster the bill. Ohio is yet another swing state, and Portman carries yet another A rating from the NRA.
Watch All In’s Chris Hayes discuss the potential gun control filibuster and the gun control fight in general with the Center for Social Inclusion’s Maya Wiley, Leah Gun Barrett from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and Emily Tottingham, who lost her son in the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting.