Lott’s Betrayal Nearly Complete: Filibuster Broken

Senator Lott’s Betrayal of Gun Owners Nearly Complete
— Majority Leader rolls Sen. Smith and moves gun control forward

“On the juvenile justice bill [S. 254], I could have gone through all kinds of contortions and gyrations to try to block that, but I thought . . . we ought to take it up. . . . I didn’t run around out here trying to block [the anti-gun amendments]. Some of my colleagues said I should have done that.”
–Majority Leader Trent Lott on his role in pushing the anti-gun crime bill, July 26, 1999

(Thursday, July 29, 1999) — It’s official. Majority Leader Trent Lott has finally succeeded in breaking Senator Bob Smith’s stranglehold on the anti-gun crime bill and has sent the bill forward to its next destination in the legislative process.

The Senate voted 77-22 yesterday to break Senator Bob Smith’s filibuster and then moved to send the legislation to a conference committee that will iron out the differences between the House and Senate crime bills.

The Senate rules would have allowed Smith (I-NH) to continue filibustering the gun bill if he could garner 41 Senators to support him. Smith fell 19 votes short of stopping the Gore-Lautenberg gun control bill.

Ironically, Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle (SD) praised Senator Lott for his leadership on this legislation. “I will say I support the effort made by the majority leader to move this bill to conference and the method he has employed to do so,” Daschle said. “We have had a very good debate on this bill. [Democrats] have had an opportunity to offer amendments. I cite S. 254 as the model I wish we would follow on all bills.”

Indeed, Senator Lott has been instrumental in moving this gun control legislation at every point along the way. Consider that the Majority Leader:

* Scheduled a vote on a crime bill during the midst of the hysteria following the Columbine shooting in May;

* Voted for several of the anti-gun provisions when they were offered as amendments to the bill;

* Voted for final passage of the anti-gun S. 254 on May 20;

* Jump-started the whole gun control debate again this month by taking the anti-gun Senate language (S. 254) and substituting it in place of the relatively innocuous House crime bill (H.R. 1501);

* Dusted off his arsenal of parliamentary tricks to prevent Senator Smith from offering constructive amendments to the crime bill during yesterday’s vote;

* Voted against the Smith filibuster yesterday; and finally,

* Allowed the Senate to send notoriously anti-gun Senators like Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy to conduct negotiations in the conference committee, while specifically excluding Senator Bob Smith, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.

While Senator Smith promised yesterday to filibuster the bill once it clears the conference committee, Senate rules will greatly restrict his parliamentary options for delaying the bill. [The Senate conferees are Hatch (R-UT), Kennedy (MA), Leahy (VT), Sessions (AL), and Thurmond (R-SC).]

At this point, no one knows how long the crime legislation will remain in the conference committee. It is possible that it will remain there until after the August recess. Eventually, both Congressional houses will have to vote on an identical bill before they can send it to the President.

Gun owners will stand the best chance at defeating this legislation in the House, seeing as how they succeeded in getting that body to defeat similar legislation (H.R. 2122) in May. Please stay tuned for further updates.

Senator Smith Responds To Senators After Yesterday’s Vote

On Missing The Real Problem In Society. “What happened at Littleton was a terrible tragedy. People used this on the Senate floor and mounted an unprecedented assault on the second amendment rights of law-abiding American gun owners. Not one law-abiding American citizen had anything to do with Columbine, not one. . . . They cast the blame, though, on the law-abiding gun owner . . . . The problem is guns, they said, not the culture. It is interesting that we take prayer and values out of the schools. What comes in? Violence, drugs, condoms. Hello, America, wake up.” — Congressional Record, July 28, 1999

On Trampling The Constitution. “[The Second Amendment] is pretty clear: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Tell me where there is anything in that amendment that allows us to do this under the Constitution of the United States of America? I stood right there where the pages are sitting and took the oath twice when I came to the Senate to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that is what I am doing now, and that is what I will continue to do.

“There is nothing in those words about background checks. There is nothing in there about the people having a right to keep and bear certain kinds of arms. There is nothing in there that says handguns can be kept or not kept where shotguns can. Nothing. I sure do not see anything in there that gives Congress any leeway whatsoever to infringe second amendment rights whenever some group of anti-gun zealots think what they like to call the ‘public interest’ requires it. The public interest is to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America. That is what the public interest is and nothing else. You trample on the Constitution; you trample on the public interest.” — Congressional Record, July 28, 1999

On His Intent To Continue Filibustering The Anti-gun Crime Bill. “I am proud to stand up for the second amendment in the Chamber of the Senate, and I will stand up here again and again, year after year, month after month, whatever it takes to make this case because I know I am right, and I am going to continue to do it. When this bill [S. 254] comes out of conference, I am going to filibuster it again for as long as I can. I am going to do everything I can to kill it, whatever I can do. I am only one person.” — Cong. Record, July 28, 1999

How Senators Voted On Your Gun Rights:

Listed below are the 77 Senators who voted AGAINST the Smith filibuster and in favor of sending the anti-gun crime bill to a House-Senate conference committee.

Abraham (MI)   Feinstein (CA)  McCain (AZ)
Akaka (HI)     Fitzgerald (IL) McConnell (KY)
Ashcroft (MO)  Frist (TN)      Mikulski (MD)
Baucus (MT)    Gorton (WA)     Moynihan (NY)
Bayh (IN)      Graham (FL)     Murkowski (AK)
Bennett (UT)   Gregg (NH)      Murray (WA)
Biden (DE)     Hagel (NE)      Reed (RI)
Bingaman (NM)  Harkin (IA)     Reid (NV)
Bond (MO)      Hatch (UT)      Robb (VA)
Boxer (CA)     Hollings (SC)   Roberts (KS)
Breaux (LA)    Inouye (HI)     Rockefeller (WV)
Bryan (NV)     Jeffords (VT)   Roth (DE)
Byrd (WV)      Johnson (SD)    Sarbanes (MD)
Chafee (RI)    Kennedy (MA)    Schumer (NY)
Cleland (GA)   Kerrey (NE)     Sessions (AL)
Cochran (MS)   Kerry (MA)      Smith (OR)
Collins (ME)   Kohl (WI)       Snowe (ME)
Conrad (ND)    Landrieu (LA)   Specter (PA)
Daschle (SD)   Lautenberg (NJ) Stevens (AK)
DeWine (OH)    Leahy (VT)      Thompson (TN)
Dodd (CT)      Levin (MI)      Thurmond (SC)
Domenici (NM)  Lieberman (CT)  Torricelli (NJ)
Dorgan (ND)    Lincoln (AR)    Warner (VA)
Durbin (IL)    Lott (MS)       Wellstone (MN)
Edwards (NC)   Lugar (IN)      Wyden (OR)
Feingold (WI)  Mack (FL)

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