Senators Reject Four Gun-Control Measures

     WASHINGTON (CN) — U.S. senators voted against four gun-control amendments Monday night, eight days after the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history left 49 victims dead at an Orlando gay nightclub.
     After taking a weekend away after days of gun-control talk that included a 15-hour filibuster from Democrats calling for tougher gun laws, the Senate came back into session Monday to vote on four competing proposals aimed at preventing people on terror watch lists from buying guns and strengthening background checks.
     But none of the proposals had enough bipartisan support to overcome a procedural hurdle Monday night, with all falling on roughly party-line votes.
     Democrats renewed their calls for gun control legislation in the wake of the June 12 massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub that left 49 people dead. Since the shooting the Senate has been consumed by talk of how to balance public safety with the Second Amendment.
     One proposal, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would have allowed the attorney general to halt a gun purchase based on a “reasonable suspicion” that the buyer has ties to terrorism. Democrats supported the measure, saying it would prevent people with bad intentions from getting guns.
     But Republicans called the bill a restriction of the due-process rights of people placed on the list improperly.
     “There’s no due process at all, at least none to speak of,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said on the floor before the vote.
     To counter this, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, offered his own solution, which contained procedures similar to Feinstein’s but only allowed the attorney general to pause the sale for three days. The government’s stay would then go before a court, where a judge could stop the sale if able to find probable cause that the buyer has been tied to terrorism.
     Cornyn cast the bill as a way to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists while preserving due process and Second Amendment rights he said the Feinstein amendment lacked.
     “I think there are some people, because of different views about the Second Amendment, they don’t view it as a constitutional right, even though the Supreme Court of the United States has held that it is a constitutional right,” Cornyn told reporters Monday.
     But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the measure could “compromise ongoing counterterrorism investigations” and provide just a brief respite for law enforcement.
     Both bills failed to clear the 60-vote requirement to move forward Monday by mirror-image votes of 47-53 for Feinstein and 53-47 for Cornyn.
     Republicans and Democrats also mutually assured the failure of competing proposals on expanding background checks.
     Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat whose 15 hour filibuster last week launched the move towards tighter gun control laws, offered legislation that would have ended the so-called “gun show loophole” and expanded the federal background check scheme.
     Meanwhile Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, offered a similar proposal that would have punished states less harshly for not expanding their background check systems while also updating mental health definitions in existing law that Democrats warned could make it easier for people with mental disorders to buy weapons.
     Grassley’s bill fell short of the 60 vote threshold necessary to move forward 53-47, while Murphy’s failed 44-56.
     “I’m mortified by today’s vote but I’m not surprised by it,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said at a press conference after the vote.
     After the votes Cornyn tried to pivot the conversation from guns towards the fight against terrorism.
     “I guess the biggest thing I’m disappointed in is [Orlando gunman Omar Mateen] would not have been stopped by the Feinstein amendment and what we really need to do is focus on the failed strategy to deal with ISIS the Islamic State and their radical ideology which is radicalizing American citizens at home,” Cornyn said.
     Meanwhile Democrats blasted both the Grassley and Cornyn measures, calling them hat tips from Republicans to the NRA.
     “If we do nothing, more people in our country will likely die,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told reporters after the vote.

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