Senate aides say there’s been no progress on the Senate’s gun-control legislation in the last two weeks, and the bill’s chances might have actually worsened during that time. At least eleven Republican senators have promised to filibuster any new gun legislation, and soon others may join them. With Congress in recess and lawmakers back in their home states, a gun-rights group directed its members to pressure senators to join the effort to block new gun control laws, according to The Wall Street Journal. While it sounds like the kind of thing that’s right up the NRA’s alley, the push was actually organized by Gun Owners of America, a lobbying group that considers the NRA too soft on guns.
Though it’s much smaller and less well-funded than the NRA, Gun Owners of America has been gaining influence recently, urging lawmakers to not only block new gun control legislation, but to undo existing laws on background checks. The New York Times reported this week that the group might be partly responsible for Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn — who is seen as key to passing universal background checks — backing away from a potential deal with Democratic senators. (It’s believed that Coburn could influence his Republican colleagues to support the legislation, as he’s so pro-gun he once remarked, “It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.”) According to the paper, “The group’s members were encouraged to inundate Mr. Coburn with e-mails and calls and to otherwise make it exceedingly clear to the senator that an enhanced background check law would not be tolerated.”
Despite pressure from gun lobbying groups, Coburn hasn’t totally given in just yet. The bipartisan agreement on background checks stalled over Coburn’s insistence that requiring record-keeping on gun sales is a slippery slope toward a national gun registry (though that makes no sense), but he’s still talking with Chuck Schumer about a possible deal.
Coburn is also fending off those calling for him to join the filibuster proposed by Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee — for now at least. The Journal reports that at a town hall meeting in Oklahoma on Wednesday, the senator rejected the idea of promising to block legislation that he hasn’t even read. “Is that about filibustering a bill to protect the Second Amendment, or is that about Rand Paul?” said Coburn, after hearing an identically worded question from several people. He added, “I’ve done more filibusters than Rand Paul is old.”