Kirsten Gillibrand on Gun Control
Democratic Senator (NY); Democratic Candidate for President (withdrawn)
She said she would do so by creating public financing for campaigns, though the N.R.A.'s power is not quite so simple: It comes not only from direct donations to candidates but also from its ability to mobilize a reliable base of single-issue voters. Ms. Gillibrand did not hold back in denouncing the N.R.A., which she called "the worst organization in this country."
At the same time, Gillibrand co-sponsored legislation that would revoke the city's gun control laws. The core of the proposed bill made it so that Washington, DC would not be allowed to pass any laws restricting firearm usage and ownership that exceed existing federal rules, repealed the city's ban on semi-automatic weapons, most registration requirements for possession of firearms and a ban on owning ammunition.
Gillibrand's support for such measures was key in her earning the backing of the NRA in her 2008 bid for re-election. Gillibrand boasted of the "A" rating on her House website.
Speaking at the launch of her presidential campaign, Gillibrand singled out the National Rifle Association as an example of special interests. "Right now, special interests are displacing the voices of the people of this country," Gillibrand said. "The NRA stops popular, common sense gun reform, while stray bullets kill children in our communities."
Gillibrand announced she was running for president. Formerly a U.S. representative in upstate New York before being appointed to the Senate, Gillibrand has established herself as one of the chamber's most liberal members and is forming her campaign in part around her advocacy for women.
However, Maddow didn't let her off the hook for her old views on issues like guns and immigration, discussing what she called Gillibrand's "conservative bona fides" in unseating a GOP congressman in New York in 2006. Gillibrand had an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.
"Senator Gillibrand has had a transformation. She has changed a great deal on policy in the decade since she was a card-carrying member of the Blue Dog Democrats," Maddow said. "She has been on her own party's right. She has been on her own party's left."
She was confronted with her ideological shift during a 60 Minutes segment last February, explaining how she went from having an "A" rating from the NRA to an "F."
"I went down to Brooklyn to meet with families who had suffered from gun violence in their communities," Gillibrand recounted. "And you immediately experience the feeling that I couldn't have been more wrong--you know, I only had the lens of upstate New York." She went on to say that she was "embarrassed" because she had in fact lived in New York City for a decade.
Still, the pro-gun reform lawmaker offered some hope for future reform based on Tuesday's elections. "I do believe things are changing. And the reason why I believe that is because we had candidates run in this last election who ran on this issue," she said.
Still, Gillibrand foresaw more work ahead of Democrats to pass stricter gun laws. "We have to obviously flip the Senate to be able to do whatever the House could do, that common-sense reform," Gillibrand said. "But I think the country is in a place where we will fight this until we get it done because you need these basic reforms."
I said, "Yes."
"Where do you keep them?" he asked.
Without pausing to think why he was asking the question or whether I should answer it, I said, "Under the bed."
Huge mistake. Our exchange about guns became his whole story. It made the front page of Newsday, and that lead to headlines across the state. I was so frustrated with myself for not answering more thoughtfully--and for answering at all. The topic was irrelevant to our interview. Besides, what was I thinking, telling the world, without any context, that I kept guns under my bed? One had been a raffle prize, the other a gift. Both were still locked up in their original cases. Neither Jonathan nor I had ever loaded either.
DioGuardi said voters could get "whiplash" watching Gillibrand's policy changes. "She sounded like Annie Oakley, and now she's somebody different," DioGuardi said.
But all that changed when Hillary's seat opened up, and she shamelessly promoted herself as a candidate to fill it. Within days Gillibrand's raw ambition had trumped her stated principles, and she began flipping on all kinds of critical issues. As a new senator, Gillibrand was transformed from a rabid opponent of gun control--with a 100% rating from the NRA--to a cosponsor of gun control legislation. In 2007, she had sponsored a bill to delete background check information after 24 hours; now she suddenly voted to repeal her very own bill.
Does she still keep two guns under her bed, as she claimed during the campaign? She hasn't said.
Gillibrand moved to bridge the political & cultural divide, shunning political labels and even embracing Second Amendment gun rights and other positions that placed her outside the mainstream of her party.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. BLUMENTHAL: This amendment would ban high-capacity magazines which are used to kill more people more quickly and, in fact, have been used in more than half the mass shootings since 1982. I ask my colleagues to listen to law enforcement, their police, prosecutors who are outgunned by criminals who use these high-capacity magazines. I ask that my colleagues also listen to the families of those killed by people who used a high-capacity magazine.
Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. GRASSLEY. I oppose the amendment. In 2004, which is the last time we had the large-capacity magazine ban, a Department of Justice study found no evidence banning such magazines has led to a reduction in gun violence. The study also concluded it is not clear how often the outcomes of the gun attack depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than 10 shots without reloading. Secondly, there is no evidence banning these magazines has reduced the deaths from gun crimes. In fact, when the previous ban was in effect, a higher percentage of gun crime victims were killed or wounded than before it was adopted. Additionally, tens of millions of these magazines have been lawfully owned in this country for decades. They are in common use, not unusually dangerous, and used by law-abiding citizens in self-defense, as in the case of law enforcement.
On page 37, between lines 8 and 9, insert the following: "Allowing Amtrak Passengers to Securely Transport Firearms on Passenger Trains.--None of amounts made available in the reserve fund authorized under this section may be used to provide financial assistance for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) unless Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ROGER WICKER (R, MS). This amendment aims to ensure that gun owners and sportsmen are able to transport securely firearms aboard Amtrak trains in checked baggage, a practice that is done thousands of times a day at airports across the country. I emphasize that this amendment deals with checked, secured baggage only. It would return Amtrak to a pre-9/11 practice. It does not deal with carry-on baggage. Unlike the airline industry, Amtrak does not allow the transport of firearms in checked bags. This means that sportsmen who wish to use Amtrak trains for hunting trips cannot do so because they are not allowed to check safely a firearm.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D, NJ): I object to this disruptive amendment offered by the Senator from Mississippi. He wants to enable the carrying of weapons, guns, in checked baggage. One doesn't have to be very much concerned about what we are doing when they look at the history of attacks on railroads in Spain and the UK and such places. This amendment has no place here interrupting the budgetary procedure. The pending amendment is not germane and, therefore, I raise a point of order that the amendment violates section 305(b)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly three million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs.
The following ratings are based on lifetime voting records on gun issues and the results of a questionaire sent to all Congressional candidates; the NRA assigned a letter grade (with A+ being the highest and F being the lowest).
Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
H.R.8: To require a background check for every firearm sale. This Act may be cited as the "Background Check Expansion Act".
Opposing argument from the Heritage Foundation, 2/26/2019: Heritage Action opposes the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard. This legislation would require universal background checks for all firearm sales (even private) with specific exceptions. Unfortunately, universal background checks would do little to prevent firearm violence and would instead make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase, own, carry, and use a firearm. Studies show that universal background checks are largely ineffective when it comes to preventing mass shootings. In addition, most people imprisoned for firearm-related crimes access their firearms illegally through theft, the underground market, family members, or friends. H.R. 8 is poorly written and makes criminals out of many law-abiding Americans who commonly make low-risk firearm transfers.
Legislative outcome Roll call 99 in House on 2/27/2019 passed 240-190-2; introduced in Senate 1/8/2019; no action as of 3/28/2020.
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