When the bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks died two weeks ago at the hands of a Republican filibuster, only one senator from New England voted to kill the bill: New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte (R).
This week, as Ayotte returns to the Granite State, many of her constituents are expressing their dissatisfaction. Take this town-hall meeting today, for example.
When another man rose to ask Ayotte to explain why she voted against expanding background checks, several people in the audience of more than 250 people applauded."I know people have strong feelings about this issue," Ayotte began. She said she voted against the bipartisan compromise on background checks last month because she believed gun owners would face an undue burden and she feared it could lead to a federal gun registry.
What bothers me about the senator's response is how wrong it is. The "undue burden" Ayotte is worried about adds a few minutes to gun purchases, and it already applies to existing firearm sales in gun stores. If it helps prevents gun violence, why is it "undue"?
More importantly, the fears of a possible federal gun registry are ridiculous. As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, there is no federal registry. The proposed measure explicitly prohibits a federal registry. Under the bill, anyone even trying to create a federal registry would be a felon, subject to 15 years behind bars. No one has even proposed the possibility of a federal registry.
The irony is, if Ayotte was worried about a possible registry, she should have loved the compromise plan -- it strengthened the prohibition on the very registry she's so worried about.
And best of all, Ayotte surely knows this. The U.S. senator has had two weeks to think of an excuse and the best she can come up with are talking points she knows aren't true.
Have I mentioned lately how difficult it is to have a serious policy debate when those engaged in the discussion are willing to say things that aren't true?