For the past couple of weeks, a growing group of Republican Senators has been threatening to filibuster Democratic Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid’s Obama-backed gun control bill.
The filibuster team, which started out as “boat-rockers” Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, eventually grew to include at least a dozen Republican Senators.
However, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who has an “A” rating from the NRA and is usually a reliable conservative vote on freedom issues, has now cast doubt on the entire idea of a coordinated filibuster to stop Reid’s bill.
According to a video clip posted on CNN’s “Political Ticker” blog, Coburn said the “planned GOP filibuster of the bill won’t occur if Democrats allow Republicans to bring amendments up for a vote.”
The rationale Coburn offered for his position was that “a filibuster that’s been promised by more than a dozen fellow Republicans would prevent Americans from seeing where their elected officials stand on the [gun control] issue.”
This strikes us as saying in so many words that Senator Coburn is prepared to let bad legislation pass -- as long as Democrats are forced to take “bad votes” in the process.
We think we’d rather see our Senators fight for conservative principles, and if necessary, go down having used every tool in their tool box rather than having them lay back in the hopes that Republicans can make political hay and a 30-second TV commercial out of our loss of Second Amendment rights.
And, let us not forget that Senator Coburn was among a bipartisan group of senators working behind the scenes on legislation aimed at expanding background checks on gun sales.
According to CNN, efforts in Washington to craft some type of gun-control legislation after December’s school massacre in Connecticut hit a snag, however, on the issue of record-keeping – Coburn vehemently opposes any attempt by the federal government to retain information on gun owners.
“The government doesn’t have a right under the Constitution to know whether I bought a gun or not,” Coburn said Tuesday.
In his comments to CNN, Coburn said, “I didn’t back away from any negotiation… Chuck Schumer quit talking to me,” he alleged about the New York Democrat.
Senator Coburn further noted to CNN that, “I’ve had a position that’s been the same all along. I’m willing to do what it takes to actually make a difference to make sure we don’t put guns in the hands of the people who shouldn’t have it. How we do that is important. Where Chuck and I differed is how we did that.”
The problem with Senator Coburn’s position on the filibuster is that he’s been suckered into the old Washington game of “a tragedy has occurred and the public expects us to do something, so here’s something.”
When the Congress does “something” in response to a tragedy, it almost always involves a huge waste of taxpayer money (see Hurricane Katrina relief) or a loss of freedom for individual Americans (see the Patriot Act). Rarely does it actually address the specifics of the tragedy in a way that comports with the Constitution’s limits on federal power.
It is hard to think of a piece of legislation that is more worthy of a filibuster than the Reid-Obama gun bill. We think that Senators Paul, Cruz, Lee and their colleagues should proceed with their plans to filibuster Reid’s latest encroachment on the Bill of Rights.