John Cornyn On His Reciprocity Bill

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced his bipartisan S. 498, The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015, on Thursday. It currently has 16 co-sponsors including one of my own senators, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). The text of the bill is not yet available. An identical bill, HR 923, has been introduced into the House by Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN).

I have more hopes for this bill in this session of Congress than in past sessions. First, Sen. Cornyn is the Majority Whip or number two Republican in the Senate. Second, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is a co-sponsor and the bill has to go through his committee. Finally, there is a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. What happens when it hits Obama’s desk is another story unless it is merged in with something he desperately wants as was carry in National Parks.

Sen. Cornyn was interviewed by Cam Edwards of NRA News regarding this bill on Friday. Among the points brought out by Cornyn are that the bill is intended to eliminate “gotcha” moments like happened to Shaneen Allen, he thought national reciprocity was analogous to how his Texas driver’s license is recognized in all states, and he thought a number of Democrats will support the bill. He was less optimistic about the reception it would get from President Obama. Cornyn did say it was early in the process and that there is a need to build public opinion in support of the bill. He urged people to contact their Senators and Representatives expressing their support for this bill.

Regarding Cornyn And National Right To Carry Reciprocity

One of the amendments offered yesterday was on national right-to-carry. It was offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Because it didn’t get 60 votes in favor, it was considered defeated. The final vote was 57 ayes to 43 nays.

I think the mood in the Senate yesterday was that if Manchin-Toomey didn’t pass, nothing was going to pass good or bad. Otherwise you wouldn’t have had 44 Senators voting against the Burr Amendment which would have protected the Second Amendment rights of veterans by requiring that they be adjudicated mentally incompetent before losing their gun rights. To me, that amendment was right up there with Mom, apple pie, and baseball.

What does this mean for national right-to-carry in general? As I see it, national right to carry reciprocity legislation has a majority of the Senate in support of it. However, it is not a filibuster-proof majority as it didn’t get 60 votes. It would be foolish to think that a Senator Boxer or a Senator Schumer would not filibuster this as a stand alone bill.

A number of the senators voting against the bill come from states with strong shall-issue carry laws. It might be possible to gain the remaining three needed votes. I see Sen. Harry Reid’s votes as a “tactical no” while a Nelson of Florida or a King of Maine might be persuaded to listen to their constituents. It would be close and it again shows the folly of the Republicans in nominating weak, stupid, or ineffectual candidates. McCaskill of Missouri, Kaine of Virginia, and Baldwin of Wisconsin should have been beaten in 2012 and weren’t. That would have been the three needed votes.

Ah, woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Here is the breakdown of the roll call vote on the Cornyn Amendment.

YEAs —57
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lee (R-UT)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warner (D-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)
NAYs —43
Baldwin (D-WI)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coons (D-DE)
Cowan (D-MA)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Feinstein Gets Her Way

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) got her assault weapons ban (sic) – S. 150 – out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today on a 10-8 party line vote. It now goes to the full Senate.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) offered four amendments to the bill which were all defeated on an 8-10 party line vote. His amendments would have made exceptions for those in rural areas; for those who had obtained a protective order; for those who certified they were the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking; and for those people who were residents in a county or municipality that borders Mexico to protect themselves against the narco-terrorists. I think Cornyn’s intention was to put the Democrats on record as anti-rural, anti-woman, and anti-self defense.

The votes on Jane Kelly to be an Appeals Court judge in the 8th Circuit and on Kenneth Gonzales to be a District Court judge in New Mexico were held over.

 The results of the business meeting as reported are below:

Results of Executive Business Meeting – March 14, 2013
The Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting to consider pending nominations and legislation on March 14, 2013.

Agenda

I. Nominations

Jane Kelly, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit
Held Over

Kenneth John Gonzales, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico
Held Over

II. Legislation

S. 150, Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (Feinstein)
Ordered Reported by Roll Call Vote, 10-8

Amendment ALB13181 (Cornyn)
Failed by Roll Call Vote, 8-10

Amendment OLL13116 (Cornyn)
Failed by Roll Call Vote, 8-10

Amendment OLL13117 (Cornyn)
Failed by Roll Call Vote, 8-10

Amendment OLL13118 (Cornyn)
Failed by Roll Call Vote, 8-10

The webcast of the meeting for anyone with the stomach enough to watch it is here.

UPDATE: According to Politico, the White House is urging swift action on Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. Press Secretary Jay Carney had this to say:

“Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary committee voted to send the full Senate an important piece of legislation to help keep weapons of war off America’s streets,” Carney said Thursday. “As you know, banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is an important piece of the president’s plan to reduce gun violence.

“We urge congress to swiftly vote on and pass this legislation and other common-sense measures like requiring a background check for all gun purchases and cracking down on gun trafficking and straw purchasers. There’s been significant progress this week on these proposals and the president welcomes that. We urge congress to keep it up.”

Frankly every time I hear the words “common sense” out of Jay Carney or President Obama’s mouth, I shudder at the perversion of the English language.

John Cornyn Goes For The Jugular

This weekend we watched a bit of the French Open tennis tournament. It is always interesting to watch really good tennis players set up their opponent for the kill shot. At first it just seems that they are in a long rally with the ball going back and forth (and back and forth). In reality, they are maneuvering their opponent into position for the put away. It is a joy to watch when it all comes together.

So, too, it was with today’s Senate Judiciary Committee when Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) led Attorney General Eric Holder into that trap. Cornyn starts off by asking questions about the investigation into the national security leaks and the people appointed to run the investigation. The questions start off looking like easy lobs. Cornyn then goes for the jugular at which point Holder realizes he’s just been trapped. He tries to escape but Cornyn doesn’t let him.

It was a joy to watch.

The full 12 minute exchange can be found here if you are interested. An abbreviated version of the “kill shot” is below which should stop at the 6:51 mark.

Regrets But No Apology

When Attorney General Eric Holder was asked by Sen. John Coryn (R-TX) if he apologized to the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, he looks like he is stunned that someone had the nerve to ask him that question. And then he answers no and again no when asked if he had even spoken with the family. Given the chance to apologize for his department’s actions when given the chance, he changes the conversation.

Typical behavior for someone of his ilk.

Senator John Cornyn Now Demanding Answers From Eric Holder

First there was Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in his lonely quest to get answers from Attorney General Eric Holder about Project Gunwalker. Then Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) got on board and through his chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings. Now Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is asking questions of Eric Holder as it appears Texas had its own version of Operation Fast and Furious.

Below is the letter he sent to Attorney General Eric Holder today.

August 11, 2011

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I write to express my deep concerns regarding press reports of an ATF “gun-walking” program that allegedly operated in the state of Texas. I request that the Department of Justice immediately brief my office regarding the scope and details of any past or present ATF “gun-walking” programs operated in the state of Texas.

As you are aware, recent congressional investigations have revealed the existence of a controversial “gun-walking” program operated by the ATF in Phoenix, Arizona. As a part of that program, known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” ATF agents instructed federally licensed firearms dealers to illegally sell more than 1,000 weapons to straw purchasers working for drug cartels in Mexico. These ATF agents were also ordered by their superiors to ignore well-established practice and refrain from interdicting these weapons before they flowed into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Sadly, this ill-advised program had tragic consequences, with these “walked” weapons showing up at the scene of multiple violent crimes—including the murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Unfortunately, the Department of Justice has been less than forthcoming during congressional investigations into the failed “Operation Fast and Furious.” For instance, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich initially told Congress that the allegation that “ATF sanctioned or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico—is false.” Additionally, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson told congressional investigators that “ATF’s senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative” with the congressional investigation of “Operation Fast and Furious,” but “Justice Department officials directed [ATF] not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.”

 I believe it is important that you promptly disclose the details of any past or present Texas-based ATF “gun-walking” program similar to “Operation Fast and Furious.” My constituents deserve a full accounting of any such activities in Texas. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

The Washington Times is covering the story and Cornyn’s letter here. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle is also giving it good coverage including a video about Operation Fast and Furious.