Senators split on gun bills, won’t say whether they’ll support latest compromise
Wisconsin’s two senators split on the four gun control measures that failed in the Senate Monday, and both are noncommittal on whether they will support the latest compromise amendment.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., voted for two Republican sponsored amendments to a spending bill that would have created a waiting period for those on the terror watch list to buy a gun and the ability to block a purchase in court. Another amendment would have added funding to the background check system.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., voted for the two Democratic sponsored amendments that would have expanded background checks and banned all those on the terror watch list from buying guns.
All four amendments failed on party line votes.
Democrats expressed dismay at the inability to pass any gun control measures while Republicans said Democrats weren’t interested in real compromise and were using this as a wedge issue.
Samara Safarik is with the Madison Chapter of Moms Demand Action, and said her organization made more than 60,000 calls to senators.
“After that first feeling of just dismay and heartache that it is the same thing over and over again there is a glimmer of hope because it’s actually not, we’re gaining momentum,” Safarik said.
Johnson spent the day arguing that the issue was truly about terrorism. He held a hearing in the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Tuesday morning examining the “ideology of ISIS” and believes targeting terrorism is the goal.
“Would-be terrorists are going to get access to weapons, unfortunately,” Johnson said. “Would-be terrorists are still going to be able to slaughter innocent human beings. So what we need to do is eliminate the would-be terrorists.”
Another compromise bill developed in the Senate Tuesday, created a new discussion. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would narrowly restrict those on the no-fly list from buying guns, which is about 2,700 Americans.
Johnson said he had concerns about the bill.
“We’re working with her office,” Johnson said. “The good part about her bill is it does narrow the list down to the no-fly list and the selectee list, a far more rigorous standard to go on. But again I’m concerned about the due process aspects.”
Safarik said they want to see more details about the measure.
“There are reservations on both sides I think and that’s because we’re not to final drafts,” Safarik said. “From our perspective the Collins amendment puts such a narrow segment of people who are on the terror watch list to keeping them from buying guns that it wouldn’t have been effective with the Orlando shooter.”
But both groups said they’ll keep fighting, especially with an eye toward the November elections.
“I watched and listened when I heard Sen. Ron Johnson’s vote,” Safarik said. “All of us in Wisconsin now know that.”
“I guess some gun control advocates would like to remove guns,” Johnson said. “How are they going to defend themselves, with a stick? I’m going to defend Wisconsinites’ ability to defend themselves with a weapon that will actually work.”
Baldwin said in a statement that she supports all of the provisions of the Democratic bills that failed Monday. She did not say whether she’d support the Collins proposal.