Reciprocity Passed The House But Will It Pass The Senate

Ian Argent, in a guest post at Shall Not Be Questioned, has run the numbers on HR 38 to see the chances it will pass in the Senate. He compared how the Senate voted on a proposal for carry reciprocity put forth by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in 2013 and how he expects them to vote now.

Starting with the 2013 vote (57 Ayes to invoke cloture), I did up a spreadsheet of the likely vote results in 2017, based on current occupancy, the 2013 vote, and the Senators political stances on the issue.

I came out with maximum of 59 Aye votes (assuming Luther Strange gets to vote Aye or his replacement votes Aye).

The vote delta (because we had both gains and losses)

NH: -1 (Maggie Hassan replaced Kelly Ayotte)

IA: +1 (Joni Ernst replaced Tom Harkin)

SD: +1 (Mike Rounds replaced Tim Johnson)

WV: +1 (Shelley Moore replaced John Rockefeller)

However, what I don’t see is the 60th vote. I broke out the Nay votes who are in seats up in 2018 in states that voted for Trump

Bill Nelson is a hard NO
Claire McCaskill is a hard NO
Sherrod Brown is a hard NO
Bob Casey is a firm No
Tammy Baldwin is a hard NO

Unfortunately, I think Ian is correct. So long as the Senate has the filibuster on everything but judicial nominees, then 60 votes are going to be required.

I was looking at the vote in the House on HR 822 back in 2011. It was interesting to compare that with the vote on HR 38. HR 38 passed the House last week by a vote of 231-198. The ayes included 6 Democrats and 225 Republicans while the nays included 184 Democrats and 14 Republican. By contrast, the vote back in 2011 was 272-154 in favor of passage. The big difference can be attributed to 43 Democrats voting in favor of concealed carry reciprocity.

Of those 43 Democrats who voted in favor of concealed carry reciprocity in 2011, many are no longer in the House. A couple such as Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) have moved on to the Senate. In fact, they were two of the Democrats who voted in favor of Cornyn’s bill in 2013. What is disturbing, however, are the 13 Democrats who voted in favor of reciprocity in 2011 who voted no on it in 2017 even though the bill contained the Fix NICS Act. What made them switch their vote on reciprocity for an aye to a nay? Did the Democrats crack the whip on those members or was it that they were warned that they would have a primary opponent funded by Mike Bloomberg?

If any of the these 13 are your representative in Congress, I’d be asking why.

  1. Andre Carson (D-IN)
  2. Jim Cooper (D-TN)
  3. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
  4. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
  5. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) (though he was a surprise aye vote)
  6. Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  7. Rick Larsen (D-WA)
  8. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)
  9. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  10. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
  11. Adam Smith (D-WA)
  12. Tim Walz (D-MN)
  13. Gene Green (D-TX)


The 112th Congress will come to a close on January 3, 2013 when the 113th Congress is sworn into office. Thus, introducing a bill into the House of Representatives in mid-December is all about appearance and has nothing to do with substance. Of course this doesn’t stop politicians from doing just that knowing that these newly introduced bills will never get enacted.

A case in point are three bills introduced on December 18th, 19th, and 21st that all deal with some aspect of gun control or call for gun bans. This was just days after the shootings in Newtown, CT. The congressmen in question are all Democrats who will now be able to say “they did something” but it was those “evil Republicans in the pocket of the NRA” who refused to act on their bills.

The first bill, HR 6680, is by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). Rush is a former Black Panther who’s claim to fame seems to be that he beat then-State Senator Barack Obama in the primary for the 1st Congressional District. The title of HR 6680 is “To provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes.” No other information is available on the bill and the text of it hasn’t been sent to the GPO. If any text is ever sent to them I’d be surprised.

The bill, HR 6685, is from Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) which would ban the FN Five-seveN pistol and its associated ammunition. Ostensibly the purpose of this ban is to protect law enforcement officers.

To protect the Nation’s law enforcement officers by banning the Five-seveN Pistol and 5.7 x 28mm SS190, SS192, SS195LF, SS196, and SS197 cartridges, testing handguns and ammunition for capability to penetrate body armor, and prohibiting the manufacture, importation, sale, or purchase of such handguns or ammunition by civilians.

Again, like with Rep. Bobby Rush, no text has been received by the Government Printing Office and none probably will be received. It is a bill for show and not meant to actually be enacted.

The final bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY). HR 6704 would “reauthorize the ban on undetectable firearms”. While I don’t know how you would create an “undetectable firearm”, Rep. Israel must have some special knowledge that I don’t possess. Otherwise why would he seek to ban firearms that don’t currently exist? I can’t read the text of the bill to get some idea as – again – it doesn’t exist.

While this end of the session grandstanding is not limited to anti-gun Democrats, most of the other bills concern stuff like the naming of post offices or federal buildings.The real threats will come in January when the gun prohibitionists such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) start introducing their new bills.

Reactions On Capitol Hill To Melson “Reassignment”

Some in the Obama Administration must have thought that the furor over Project Gunwalker might blow over if Kenneth Melson and Dennis Burke were gone. I don’t think they are going to get their wish.

Rep. Darrell Issa’s statement on resignation of Dennis Burke and the reassignment of Kenneth Melson:

(WASHINGTON) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today released the following statement regarding Department of Justice personnel changes involving Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley:

“While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department. There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels. I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson’s statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees. Senator Grassley and I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers in order to ensure that a reckless effort like Fast and Furious does not take place again.”

While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has not issued a statement yet,  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) did issue one. Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is one of the newer critics of Project Gunwalker as it seems to have spread to his home state of Texas.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former state Attorney General, today responded to reports that Kenneth E. Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other Department of Justice officials who oversaw the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation, have been reassigned to new positions within the Justice Department:

“Instead of reassigning those responsible for ‘Fast and Furious’ within the Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme.”

Earlier this month, Sen. Cornyn sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers following recent press reports of alleged Texas-based “gun-walking” programs similar to the “Fast and Furious” operation currently being investigated by Congressional lawmakers. To date, Attorney General Holder has refused to respond.

The Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seem to be rather quiet on the whole change. Nothing is listed on the minority section of the committee’s website nor on Ranking Member Elijah Cummings’ page. Checking the Queen Bee of Gun Control Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s website and there is nothing there either. Finally, checking Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s site there is no mention of Melson being reassigned either.

UPDATE: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) represents the 1st District of Arizona. He is also a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In what must be a disappointing sign to administration officials, Gosar says the investigation into Project Gunwalker must go forward.

Congressman Gosar’s Statement on Arizona U.S. Attorney Burke’s Resignation and BATFE Acting Director Melson’s Reassignment

Safford, AZ –Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-01) issued the following statement regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Acting Director Kenneth Melson’s demotion to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy, and the resignation of Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke:

“The resignation of U.S. Attorney Burke and the demotion of Acting ATF Director Melson are only small steps on the long road to accountability for the Department of Justice.  As the only Arizona congressman who serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, please be assured I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers about Operation Fast and Furious.”

“I will not rest until the American people are informed about who authorized the program, who allowed it to continue despite grave misgivings on the part of dedicated ATF agents, and who is responsible for the lack of transparency from DOJ thus far.”

Congressman Paul A. Gosar, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, represents Arizona’s First Congressional District.  For more information on Congressman Gosar’s involvement in the investigation into Operations Fast and Furious, please visit

 UPDATE II: The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire has some comments by Senator Chuck Grassley on the “reassignment” of Ken Melson and resignation of Dennis Burke.

“There’s a lot of blame to go around. As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa)….

Mr. Grassley called the shakeup “an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.”

 UPDATE III: Sen. Chuck Grassley posted the following reaction to today’s events at ATF and DOJ on his website this evening:

Grassley Reacts to New Fall-out from ATF Oversight

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment after the resignations and new assignments of several officials involved in the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives strategy known as Fast and Furious.

“Today’s announcement is an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.

“There’s a lot of blame to go around. As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today.

“The Justice Department and the ATF have yet to answer a majority of the questions and still must produce many of the documents Congressman Issa and I have asked for. We’re looking for a full accounting from the Justice Department as to who knew what and when, so we can be sure that this ill-advised strategy never happens again.”

An Area In Which The NRA Excels

The legislative arena along with the concomitant lobbying is one of the areas in which the National Rifle Association really excels. The embedded letter below is evidence of their success.

The letter to President Barack Obama urges him to stop the stonewalling over Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious (aka Project Gunwalker). It was spearheaded by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) who was one of the keynote speakers at the recent NRA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. The letter is signed by 31Congressional Democrats.

In an ideal world, the NRA would concentrate on training, the legislative arena, and other areas in which being a mass organization really helps and leave the court challenges to the Second Amendment Foundation. While the NRA does have good lawyers, it is the Second Amendment Foundation that has the agility, smarts, and legal expertise in Alan Gura to bring the strategic Second Amendment cases which will get the appellate wins.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. There are some in the NRA’s hierarchy who believe the NRA has to be the be-all and end-all of all things Second Amendment. The result so far has been a number of “me, too” cases, overly broad complaints, and poorly vetted plaintiffs as well as interference in the strategic civil rights litigation of the Second Amendment Foundation. It is time for the adults in the NRA to rein in those who seek organizational glory at the expense of the Second Amendment.

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Other Gun Rights Measures Gaining Traction In Congress

Much attention has been placed on HR 822 – National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act – and rightfully so. It now has 171 co-sponsors and, hopefully, will have more after Congress gets back from its district “work” break. Besides this bill, there are a number of other gun rights measures starting to gain traction in Congress if measured by the number of co-sponsors.

HR 58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which was introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) now has 93 co-sponsors including a number of Blue Dog Democrats. Under current law, you are allowed to purchase a long gun at a gun shop outside the state of your residence if it is allowed by your state of residence and the state in which the transaction takes place. HR 58 would change this to include pistols and revolvers. Moreover, it would more broadly define state of residence for those in the military.

The next bill that is starting to pick up steam is Rep. Denny Rehrberg’s Veterans’ Heritage Firearms Act of 2011 (HR 420). This bill would create a 90-day amnesty period for veterans or their families to register firearms subject to the National Firearms Act. The firearm must have been acquired outside of the United States while serving in the Armed Services and must have been acquired prior to October 31, 1968. The bill also would allow the firearm to be forfeited to the U.S. and then transferred to a museum. It forbids the destructions of any firearm forfeited to the U.S. HR 420 now has bi-partisan support from 103 co-sponsors. One side effect of this bill is that it could start the process to re-open the NFA Registry that was closed due to the Hughes Amendment in 1986. If it is opened for vet bring-backs, why not re-open for new weapons?

Also dealing with collectible firearms is HR 615, Collectible Firearms Protection Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). While written broadly to include other firearms, it is aimed at allowing the repatriation of the M-1 Garands and M-1 Carbines that the South Korean government is seeking to sell U.S. importers. This bill now has 71 co-sponsors.

A bill to do away with gun control in the District of Columbia, HR 645, has 99 co-sponsors. This bill was sponsored by Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross and is supported by a broad coalition of Democrats and Republicans. The bill would remove the DC District Council’s authority to restrict firearms, repeal the ban on semi-auto firearms, repeal the registration requirements, authorize ammunition sales, and repeal the ban on the sales of handgun ammunition.

The final bill that seems to be gaining some traction is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Reform Act of 2011. Introduced as HR 1093 in the House and S 835 in the Senate, this bill is a repeat of a similar bill introduced in the 111th Congress. The bill is a comprehensive approach to reforming the way that ATF deals with licensed firearms dealers among other things. It institutes a graduated system of penalties for minor record-keeping errors doing away with the all or nothing current approach. Moreover, it forbids the Attorney General from using the number of warnings issued or fines levied by an ATF agent as the basis for a bonus or promotion. This bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and it has 82 co-sponsors. In the Senate, the bill was introduced just a couple of weeks ago by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). Significantly, the first co-sponsor in the Senate is Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee which will be where hearings are held on this bill.

It is still relatively early in the 112th Congress but a number of pro-gun rights bills have gained traction. The difficulty will be in seeing that they get the hearings they need and then the support in both the House and Senate.

Two More Anti-Gun Measures Introduced In Congress

The anti-gun forces have been active this week in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Wedneday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY-4) introduced the House version of Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s bill that would ostensibly deny anyone suspected of being or giving aid to a terrorist the ability to purchase firearms or explosives.

On Thursday, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY-2) introduced HR 1552. The bill’s working title is ” To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the possession of a firearm by a person who is adjudicated to have committed a violent act while a juvenile.” The full text of this bill is not yet available so I don’t know if it only applies to felonies committed by a jevenile or all violent acts. Nor do I know just what is deemed a violent act.

Finally, on Friday, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) introduced HR 1642. This bill would “prevent the illegal sale of firearms.” Again, the text is not available yet. Therefore, I don’t know what is considered an “illegal sale of firearms”. Quigley is the Cook County Democrat who succeeded Rahm Emanuel in Congress when Emanuel became White House Chief of Staff. This is also the seat held by disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. I’d say this is quite the record for one Congressional seat.

Quigley’s bill has four co-sponsors – Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.(D-IL), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Rep. Steve Israel’s bill, HR 1552, has no co-sponsors.

When the text of the bills become available, I will post them. As it is, I don’t think any of them should make it out of committee.

TV Appearances Are Very Time Consuming

It must take a lot of a Congressman’s time to appear on TV talk shows and news shows. We have been hearing of new bills promised since the Tucson shootings that would alternatively ban standard capacity magazines, ban free speech, and ban anyone from being within 1,000 feet of a “high-ranking” government official with a firearm.

Checking the Library of Congress’s Thomas database which contains information on all bills introduced in either the House or Senate, I find nothing on the above.

From Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) who has promised a new ban on standard capacity magazines, nothing.

From Robert Brady (D-PA) who has said he’ll introduce legislation that would make it a crime to use symbols or language that could be construed as threatening to a Federal official, nothing.

From Peter King (R-NY) who has said he’ll introduce legislation that would ban anyone from possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of a high-ranking government official, there is only a private bill “For the relief of Alemseghed Mussie Tesfamical.”

From Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who has said he’ll join with Carolyn McCarthy to ban standard capacity magazines, there is only a resolution “to permit the Senate to avoid unnecessary delay and vote on matters for which floor debate has ceased.”

Like I said, it takes time to appear on CNN, MSNBC, etc. Let’s hope that they continue to be consumed with hearing their voice and seeing their face on TV and leave legislation alone. I doubt it but one can hope.

112th Congress Convenes And No More Recess Appointments

Andrew Traver is out of luck in terms of getting a recess appointment. The 112th Congress, 1st Session convened at 12 noon today.

Checking the White House website regarding any more recess appointments, the last – and only ones – were made on December 29th.

Now it remains to be seen whether Obama will renominate Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. If he does, the chances of being confirmed by the Senate are even less today than they were in November. When the Senate went into sine die adjournment on December 22nd, they returned Traver’s name to the President.