Both Democrat and Republican leaders whip their members into submission.
The Senate, by an overwhelming 85-10 vote, tabled an amendment by Senator Rand Paul which would have protected 4473’s and other gun records from blanket searches by the ATF under the PATRIOT Act.
A mere 24 hours earlier, Democratic Leader Harry Reid went through parliamentary convolutions in order to prevent a vote on the Paul 4473 amendment, fearing that a vote on his language would have devastating implications for his Democrats running for reelection.
But Reid had some important allies in the Republican leadership. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his second-in-command, retiring Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), used their “Republican whip” apparatus to mischaracterize the Paul amendment and try to force Republicans to vote against it by spreading misinformation and lies.
For instance, they claimed that had the FBI been investigating the 2009 Fort Hood shooter, and the Paul amendment had been in effect, authorities would not have had the necessary tools under the Patriot Act to conduct an investigation.
But the terrorism legislation was fully in force at the time of the Fort Hood shooting, and did nothing to prevent it! The answer to every government inadequacy is not simply to grant it more power.
Republican leaders also claimed that there was no evidence that the PATRIOT Act has been abused on a “widespread” basis, either in general or with respect to the Second Amendment.
But given that all investigations are SECRET and it is a crime to disclose them, it is hypocritical to argue that we don’t know all the abuses.
Here’s what we do know: First, we know of thousands of illegal phone records which were procured by the FBI.
Second, the Obama administration is pushing to illegally seize 4473-type information through its illegal regulations on multiple semi-auto sales in the Southwest –- a demand which is being made under the rubric of “national security.” This effort to register gun sales along the border just underscores how easily the ATF could use the excuse of “terrorism” to register gun sales across the entire country.
Opponents of the Paul amendment claimed that gun owners are protected under the PATRIOT Act, because a request for gun records must be relevant to a terrorism investigation and must first be approved by the Director of the FBI or a select few high-ranking officials.
But this argument does not address the fact that the standard of “relevance” is a low standard ripe for abuse, and it is not much of an assurance at all when you have an administration (like Obama’s) that is hostile to the Second Amendment.
Reid had one additional ally: the National Rifle Association. In the end, the NRA helped both Democrat and Republican leaders by not taking an "official position" on the bill.
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