Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came through on his promise to vote against the start of debate on a new gun control bill today, joining 28 of his Republican colleagues and two Democrats.
But before he cast his vote, he took to the Senate floor to explain why he was voting no.
“I believe the government should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to society,” he said. “The government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights.”
He took issue with the law because it would require parties to undergo a background check for ”An uncle giving his nephew a hunting rifle for Christmas. A niece giving her aunt a handgun for protection. A cousin loaning another cousin his hunting rifle if the loan occurs just one day before the beginning of hunting season. Or one neighbor loaning another a firearm so his wife can protect herself while her husband is away.”
“This bill is a clear overreach that will predominantly punish and harass our neighbors, friends, and family,” he added
It’s worth noting that McConnell’s line of attack refers specifically to the Chuck Schumer’s background checks bill, which is serving as a placeholder of sorts while the Manchin-Toomey compromise is written.
But McConnell continues to insist that this legislation isn’t even worthy of an up or down vote in the Senate, because it could make it harder for uncles to loan their nephews guns.
The bill also has the opportunity to close a loophole that sends many guns into the hands of criminals, even if it may create additional hassles for some distant family members. As the Brady Center notes, “The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 80 percent of state inmates purchased guns from family, friends, a street buy or an illegal source.”
In a statement signed by more than 33 relatives of the 20 children and 6 educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School prior to the vote, families blasted the Senators, saying they should be ashamed for filibustering the bill. ”The Senators who have vowed to filibuster this bill should be ashamed of their attempt to silence efforts to prevent the next American tragedy. “
After the vote, members of Sandy Hook Promise praised those who voted in favor of moving forward on the legislation. ”We will return home this afternoon with a sense of optimism that has eluded us since 12/14,” the group said in a statement. “In our visits to Senators, we had a simple request: move forward with a discussion about common-sense solutions to protect America’s children from future tragedies like the one we have suffered and act. Senators listened and now this critically important debate will move forward toward action.
It continued, “As hard as it has been for us to make this journey, it was truly worthwhile and gives us the strength to return to participate as the debate progresses. We believe that transformation can spring from the depths of tragedy. We hope we can look back on today as the first step.”