Senator John McCain got on a CBS News show over the weekend and freely admitted he didn’t understand why young Republican Senators preoccupied with Constitutional freedoms are threatening to stall a Democrat-led effort at passing a Federal gun control bill by filibustering.
McCain’s comments came in response to previous warnings by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a dozen other conservative Senators that they’ll do anything within the rules of procedure to prevent a gun control bill sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from coming to the floor:
I don’t understand it. The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand … What are we afraid of? Why would we not want – if this issue is as important as all of us think it is – why not take it to the world’s greatest deliberative body? That’s the greatest exaggeration in history, by the way, but, you know? Why not take it up in amendment and debate? The American people will profit from it. I do not understand why United States Senators want to block debate when the leader has said we can have amendments.
McCain went on to say he would welcome debate over mandating universal background checks, without saying he would support the measure outright. Reid’s bill seeks to expand background checks and crack down on “pass-through” third-party firearms purchases, along with a number of other gun control provisions; but he’s offered to open up the measures for bipartisan amendment when (and if) the bill comes to the floor.
Paul and others threatening the filibuster argue that the bill’s entire premise represents an affront to Americans’ guaranteed 2nd Amendment powers and, therefore, has no business even coming before the Senate for discussion.
Although McCain isn’t sympathetic with his peers’ use of the filibuster, it’s not as though he doesn’t have a record employing that very same tactic in past Senate debates. He invoked the threat of a filibuster in leading a (temporarily) successful 2010 effort to block a repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on open homosexuality. And over his long career, he’s sided in favor of using the filibuster 287 times out of the 712 occasions he’s had the opportunity.