I am not going to post the language of the Leahy Amendment. You can read it for yourself. It increased the penalty for purchasing a gun on behalf of a felon or someone who is insane or someone who is subject to a restraining order to no more than 15 years in prison. It provided that the leader or organizer of a group of more than five people involved in gun trafficking could receive a sentence of no more than 25 years in prison. The idea is that it should be a very serious felony to intentionally give a firearm to someone who is dangerous or who you know intends to use the firearm to commit crimes. The National Rifle Association approved the language in this amendment, and yet it still failed.
It received 58 votes, including all the Democratic senators and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois).
To me, this is an even bigger scandal than the vote against expanded background checks. Some people are giving John McCain credit for voting for the background checks, but he voted against harsher penalties for straw purchasers. Here’s Patrick Leahy announcing the NRA’s approval of his amendment:
“Senator [Susan] Collins and I are both strong supporters and advocates of Second Amendment rights for law-abiding Americans. We also agree that our law enforcement officials deserve our support in their efforts to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” Leahy said. “We worked with the NRA and with several other Senators to ensure that nothing in our bill infringes on the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners and purchasers, while still providing a strong new set of tools for law enforcement officials. We are pleased that the NRA agrees with us that this legislation is a focused approach to combat the destructive practices of straw purchasing and firearms trafficking while protecting the Second Amendment rights of Americans.”
Collins said “Our bill would help keep guns out of the hands of criminals without infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. It protects legitimate sales and would not penalize legal transactions nor place unnecessary burdens on lawful transactions. I am pleased to have worked out differences with the NRA on bipartisan legislation that would help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and individuals with severe mental illnesses, and give law enforcement the tools they need to investigate and prosecute these crimes more effectively.”
So, why did all but three Republican senators vote against this NRA-approved amendment? Why?