SAFE COMMUNITIES, SAFE SCHOOLS ACT OF 2013; Congressional Record Vol. 159, No. 52
(Senate - April 17, 2013)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S2699-S2729]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of S. 649, which the clerk will report 
by title.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 649) to ensure that all individuals who should 
     be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the 
     national instant criminal background check system and require 
     a background check for every firearm sale, and for other 


       Manchin amendment No. 715, to protect Second Amendment 
     rights, ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited 
     from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant 
     Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible 
     and consistent background check process.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the time 
until 4 p.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two 
leaders or their designees.
  The Senator from California.

                           Amendment No. 711

       (Purpose: To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the 
     right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other 

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I would like to call up and make 

[[Page S2700]]

amendment No. 711 to the bill before us.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the 
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from California [Mrs. Feinstein], for herself, 
     Mr. Schumer, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Whitehouse, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. 
     Franken, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Levin, Mr. Harkin, Mr. 
     Rockefeller, Ms. Mikulski, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Reed, Mr. Carper, 
     Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Gillibrand, 
     Mr. Schatz, Mr. Murphy, Ms. Hirono, Ms. Warren, Mr. Cowan, 
     and Ms. Murray, proposes an amendment numbered 711.

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  (The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I happened to be on the floor and hear 
the remarks from the majority leader. I would like to thank him for his 
support of this legislation. It is extraordinarily important to me, to 
the people of my State, and, I believe, to a majority of Americans. I 
hope to make that clear during my remarks.
  I would like to also thank the 23 cosponsors of this legislation. 
They are in alphabetical order: Richard Blumenthal, Senators Boxer, 
Cardin, Carper, Cowan, Durbin, Franken, Gillibrand, Harkin, Hirono, 
Klobuchar, Lautenberg, Levin, Menendez, Mikulski, Murphy, Murray, Reed, 
Rockefeller, Schatz, Schumer, Warren, and Whitehouse. I am very 
grateful for the willingness of the Presiding Officer and the others to 
step up, show courage, and do what is right for America.
  There are all kinds of things we confront as Members of this great 
Senate. There are issues of national security, the economy, health 
care, immigration--all tough issues.
  People often ask me why I care so much about assault weapons and why 
I stayed with this issue for more than 20 years.
  The answer is this: In my view, the proliferation of this specific 
type of weapon goes to the heart of what kind of society in which we 
want to live. It goes to what kind of culture we are going to raise our 
children in, which brings us to the horrific massacre at Newtown, CT, 4 
months ago.
  Sandy Hook--and much has been said about it, but I can't forget--
Sandy Hook was a safe school in a safe town. Candidly, it was 
inconceivable that such a tragedy could happen there, but it did. I 
can't exaggerate how this senseless murder of 20 beautiful young 
children and 6 incredibly brave adults affected me and millions around 
this country. I think it is fair to say that this event really shocked 
the conscience of America.
  The pictures of these little victims still bring tears to the eyes of 
millions. I am very impressed with this one page of the New York Daily 
News. I carry it when I speak to people, trying to get their votes. 
Some say no, and I look at this picture of these smiling faces, and in 
the middle, ``Shame on U.S.'' This was the cover of the New York Daily 
News. I think it carries the message of what we are trying to do here, 
and I hope to demonstrate that during the time that I speak.
  I think the despair that we all felt, for some of us, has changed to 
determination. I believe that this amendment over time will finally 
begin to address not only the wanton, brutal violence, but the weapon 
that is often used to carry out this wanton, brutal violence.
  To have a chance at understanding these mass shootings, we need to 
understand how they are perpetrated and by whom.
  It is impossible to know with any certainty what motivated Adam 
Lanza, the Newtown shooter. We know he exhibited clear signs of mental 
disturbance. We know he had an extreme aversion to normal social life, 
and he didn't like physical contact. He was in and out of school and 
spent time in special education classrooms and was home-schooled by his 
mother. He lived in a room with blacked-out curtains and played violent 
video games for hours on end.
  We know his mother purchased assault weapons for him and kept an 
arsenal at home. We know that they went target shooting together at 
ranges and that both were certified in gun safety. Their home was a 
veritable weapons depot, with many firearms, more than 1,600 rounds of 
ammunition, samurai swords, and even a gun safe in this young man's 
  It has been reported that Adam compiled a spreadsheet documenting 
hundreds of victims of mass murders--something he may have used as a 
measuring stick for his own sadistic plot.
  We know one more thing: None of this information would have been 
caught on a background check. I say this although I support background 
checks. But this shows what is out there, which needs to be stopped.
  On that December morning, Adam Lanza started his rampage by killing 
his mother. He then drove to Sandy Hook and shot his way into the 
school. He was heavily armed. This is what he carried: a Bushmaster 
XM15 assault rifle, a Glock handgun, a SIG Sauer handgun, ten 30-round 
magazines, and a Saiga 12-gauge assault shotgun. In less than 5 
minutes, he fired at least 154 rounds from the Bushmaster in 2 
classrooms. He stopped only when first responders arrived. He then took 
his own life. He died with 139 more rounds available to fire.
  I am sure background checks would stop many would-be murderers, but 
they would not have prevented Newtown. The weapons were legally 
purchased by his mother. While he was disturbed, he had no criminal 
record or record of mental illness and would not have been subject to a 
background check because his mother gave him these weapons.
  Let me be clear: Universal background checks are very important. I 
strongly support them, but they would not have prevented the tragedy in 
  I have watched these mass shootings escalate over the past 40 years--
four decades of my public life. Twenty-nine have taken place in just 
the past decade, seven in the past year. Military-style assault weapons 
are often the weapon used in many of these shootings.
  Just 3 days before Newtown, an AR-15 assault rifle was used to kill 
two people and seriously wound a third at a mall in Clackamas, OR.
  Five months before Newtown, a gunman opened fire in a theater at a 
late-night performance of a brand new movie. He killed 12 and injured 
58. The only reason he didn't continue was that this drum that he had 
in his weapon--a 100-round drum--jammed at approximately 50.
  Although the Aurora shooter was being treated by mental health 
professionals, he owned a small arsenal of weapons, including a Smith & 
Wesson M&P15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, two Glock .40 
caliber handguns, and a 100-round ammunition drum.
  A number of weapons were used in the 1999 massacre at Columbine High 
School in Littleton, CO, where 13 were killed. The weapons were a TEC-
DC9 assault pistol, a Hi-Point 9mm Carbine, a Savage pump-action 
shotgun, and a Savage 311-D 12-gauge shotgun.
  High-capacity ammunition magazines also play a role in these mass 
shootings. In 2011, a gunman in Tucson used a semiautomatic Glock 
handgun equipped with a 33-round magazine to kill 6 and wound 12, 
including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. In 2007, a Virginia Tech gunman 
used 2 handguns and at least 19 magazines to kill 32 and wound 17. Some 
of these magazines were 15-round versions. All told, he had nearly 400 
rounds to fire.
  Has this ended with Newtown? Was Newtown such a stirring event on the 
conscience of America that no one would try it again? What is the 
answer? The answer is no.
  On March 18, just 3 months after Sandy Hook, a former student at the 
University of Central Florida planned to set off a fire alarm in his 
apartment and kill students as they fled. A roommate saw him with these 
weapons and called the police. The police came quickly and were able to 
prevent another massacre. Here is what he had: a .22 caliber assault 
rifle, known as German Sport Guns GSG-5; a .45 caliber handgun; two 
110-round magazines; 4 homemade explosive devices; and a stockpile of 
approximately 1,000 rounds.

[[Page S2701]]

  On March 31, an AR-15 assault rifle was used to assassinate a 
district attorney and his wife in Texas. The district attorney's wife 
innocently opened the door of their home. A gunman shot and killed her 
with a single bullet. As her husband turned to try to get to his 
weapon, he was killed in a burst of at least 20 rounds. This is the 
offensive nature of these weapons.
  A shooting many years ago--because I came to know some of the victims 
who survived--encouraged me to submit the first bill in 1994. This was 
an attack by a man named Gian Luigi Ferri in a very high office 
building in San Francisco, CA, called 101 California Street. He came in 
and killed eight. He had two TEC-9s and magazines holding 50 rounds of 
  He killed a young mother, Jody Sposato, 30, who had recently given 
birth to her first child. Her neighbor said, ``She just had that 
little, lovely baby 10 months ago.'' I came to know Jody's husband, 
Steve, who was a wonderful, tall man who used to come to see me with 
his baby in his arms. I am delighted to see that he remarried and made 
a new life for himself.

  Ferri also killed Donald ``Mike'' Merrill, who had recently adopted 
two children, a son and a daughter, ages 4 and 2, with his wife 
  One of the wounded, a beautiful young woman, Michelle Scully, was 
saved because her husband John died while jumping on her body, 
shielding her from the gunfire.
  This is how these events unfold. The tragedies they leave behind are 
actually never completely recoverable.
  Over the years, as I have watched, I have come to see that these 
weapons are attractive to two groups of people. There are collectors, 
there is target practice, some hunt, and some think they offer a strong 
defense. This is one group. But death tolls show there is another group 
who covet these firearms more for their deadly firepower--most notably, 
grievance killers, gang members, and juveniles.
  Let me mention the grievance killers. Their goal is to kill 
indiscriminately. These are weapons that are easy to fire quickly. They 
can fire many times without overheating, and they can carry ammunition-
feeding devices that exceed 100 rounds. These are the weapons of choice 
of this group of people. The question is, Can this group of people, who 
will kill with these weapons, buy these weapons easily? The answer 
today is yes.
  These weapons are attractive to gang members because pistol grips and 
folding stocks make them easy to conceal and maneuver. These weapons 
pack enough firepower to confront other gangs as well as the police.
  I would like to tell you one other story from my home town that 
touched me deeply. In 2004, undercover police officers Isaac Espinoza 
and Barry Parker confronted a man at the corner of Newcomb Avenue and 
Newhall Street in San Francisco. As the officers approached, the 
shooter pulled out an AK-47 from beneath his coat and fired 14 rounds, 
killing Officer Espinoza and injuring Officer Parker, both of whom were 
  Officer Espinoza was a real star in the San Francisco Police 
Department. Everyone liked him, and he had real credibility on the 
streets and in the community. He was very special. He had been a police 
officer for 8 years. During that time, he received four major service 
awards. Police Chief Greg Suhr, the current chief, said he wouldn't 
have been surprised if Officer Espinoza rose to be the chief himself 
one day. But he is gone. He left behind his wife of 7 years, Renata, 
and their daughter Isabella, who was 3 at the time of his murder.
  Finally, assault weapons are attractive to juveniles because they are 
lightweight, have little recoil, and are easy to fire.
  The takeaway is that nowhere seems safe from these acts of mass 
violence, made all the more deadly because of the military features of 
these particular weapons.
  These mass killings aren't confined to dangerous areas. They happened 
in a mall in Clackamas. They happened in a movie theater in Aurora. 
They happened in a temple in Oak Creek. They happened in an office in 
San Francisco. Worst of all, they happen now in schools. Schools used 
to be safe places, but now we confront the legacy of Columbine, 
Virginia Tech, and Newtown.
  President Obama relayed the story of a murdered child's mother. She 
said she hates when people say her son was ``in the wrong place at the 
wrong time.'' When are schools ever the wrong place? Schools should 
always be the right place for children and they should always be the 
right time. And that is why we must take action.
  I am relieved we are finally debating the issue of gun violence, in 
particular the amendment I offer today to introduce the Assault Weapons 
Ban in the underlying bill. It has been 9 years since the first Federal 
Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, and far too many deaths. The 
Assault Weapons Ban I offer today as an amendment has one purpose: to 
begin to dry up the future supply of assault weapons and high-capacity 
ammunition magazines over time, which will save lives. It does not 
affect any legally owned weapon possessed now.
  I fully support the bill to expand background checks, increase 
penalties on straw purchasers, and strengthen school security. But 
these provisions are only part of a solution. The weapons I talk about 
can fire hundreds of rounds a minute with velocities and energy far 
exceeding the standard handguns. They do not belong on the streets 
where they can be bought without questions asked.
  This amendment bans the future manufacture, possession, sales, and 
importation of 157 semiautomatic assault weapons by make and model. Let 
me list some of the most infamous models. We have here a display. They 
include the AK-47, the AR-15, the Bushmaster XM15, the Smith & Wesson 
M&P15, the Hi-Point Carbine, the UZI Mini Carbine, and the Intratec 
TEC-9. They include the MAC-10, the Saiga-12, the Street Sweeper, and 
all 157 of them are explicitly, by make and model, delineated in the 
  The bill also prospectively bans the manufacture, sale, and 
importation of all other assault weapons that can accept a detachable 
magazine and have at least one military characteristic, such as a 
pistol grip or barrel shroud.
  Finally, the amendment bans the manufacture and importation--as well 
as the future sale or transfer--of large-capacity ammunition feeding 
devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds. Here are some of 
these large magazines--and this is the drum that was used at Aurora. In 
many cases, such as the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, it 
is only when a shooter stops to switch magazines that police or others 
have the chance to take the shooter down, and he or she may well fumble 
in so doing.
  Now what does the amendment not do? To clear up some misinformation, 
it is also important to know what the bill does not do. It does not 
take away any legally owned weapon. All weapons legally possessed on 
the date of enactment are exempted. The amendment does not require 
registration. If an assault weapon is legally owned before enactment 
and later transferred or sold, the recipient or purchaser must pass a 
background check as required in the underlying bill.
  Finally, the amendment does not affect hunting or sporting firearms. 
Let me point that out. It protects legitimate hunters by excluding 
2,258 specifically named firearms used for hunting and sporting 
purposes. It took 96 pages of legal bill language to list these hunting 
and sporting firearms by make and model so everyone can see clearly 
their hunting or sporting gun is excluded from the bill. It took my 
staff a long time and a lot of vetting to compile this list, but they 
have done it.
  Some have argued that the legislation would violate the Second 
Amendment. Candidly, that is wrong. The original Federal Assault 
Weapons Ban I sponsored in 1994 was repeatedly challenged in Federal 
Court on a variety of grounds, including the Second Amendment, the 
Commerce Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection 
Clause. The Fourth, the Sixth, the Ninth, and the District of Columbia 
Circuit Courts all upheld the 1994 law, with three of them rejecting 
challenges based on the Second Amendment.
  Since these rulings, the Supreme Court, in 2008, recognized an 
individual right under the Second Amendment in a 5-to-4 decision in the 
District of Columbia v. Heller. But Heller itself clearly rejects the 
claim that Second Amendment rights are absolute. In Heller, 
conservative Justice Antonin

[[Page S2702]]

Scalia stated: ``The right secured by the Second Amendment is not 
  And the Court said the Second Amendment does not protect ``a right to 
keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for 
whatever purposes.'' Case made.
  Also, just like other constitutional rights, the Second Amendment's 
right to keep and bear arms is subject to reasonable restrictions. An 
assault weapons ban is such a reasonable restriction, and no assault 
weapon ban has ever been overturned by a court of law.
  Don't take my word for it. Look at the Supreme Court decisions. 
Justice Scalia's opinion in Heller specifically stated, ``Weapons most 
useful in military service--M-16 rifles and the like'' are weapons that 
``may be banned.'' And there are weapons that are the like of the M-16 
weapon on the street today that are covered by this bill.
  Third, an assault weapons ban leaves available ample means for 
individuals to defend themselves and their families using firearms. 
This amendment imposes restrictions on one class of weapons--military-
style weapons--that are highly dangerous and can kill large numbers of 
people quickly, with increasing velocity. It leaves open ample 
opportunities to possess and use numerous types of firearms for 
defense. I have no question this bill is constitutional.
  A second false attack is that assault weapons covered by this ban 
contain only ``cosmetic features'' and are no more dangerous than any 
other firearm. Nonsense. Law enforcement officers and gun experts are 
the best ones to go to, and we have. And they have pointed out these 
features were designed to be added to military weapons to make them 
more deadly and they have the same effect on civilian versions.
  Some examples: The pistol grip was first added to a rifle by the 
German army in World War II, when it was incorporated in the STG 44, 
which is called a ``Storm Gun.'' This feature allows a shooter to 
``spray-fire'' a large number of rounds over a broad killing zone 
without having to aim at each individual target.
  Folding stocks were added to the M1 Carbine by the U.S. Army in World 
War II so the weapon could be more easily transported by soldiers 
traveling in cramped aircraft and military vehicles. Similarly, UZI 
manufacturers started adding folding stocks to their weapons in the 
early 1950s at the request of Dutch and German military who found the 
traditional wooden stock to be too long for use while traveling in 
armored vehicles.

  Every law enforcement officer who testified on the Assault Weapons 
Ban in our Judiciary hearing was emphatic that military characteristics 
add to a weapon's lethality. From Baltimore County Police Chief Jim 
Johnson: Assault weapons are ``meant for the battlefield.'' Milwaukee 
Chief of Police Edward Flynn: ``Military characteristics are not simply 
cosmetic in nature. These weapons are designed for combat.'' And John 
Walsh, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, couldn't be more clear: These 
weapons, he said, are ``crafted to be as effective as possible at 
killing human beings.''
  Now where are we today? Seven States and the District of Columbia 
banned assault weapons prior to the Newtown massacre. These are my own 
State, California, Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, 
New York, and New Jersey.
  Since Newtown, legislators in 20 States have introduced bills to 
either ban assault weapons or strengthen existing bans. Twenty States 
are now contemplating action.
  Connecticut and New York passed laws to tighten their existing bans 
to prohibit assault weapons with one military characteristic, which is 
what we do in this bill.
  Maryland expanded an existing ban on assault pistols to cover rifles 
and assault shotguns.
  In Massachusetts and New Jersey, bills have been introduced to 
strengthen those States' assault weapons bans.
  Efforts are also underway to prohibit these deadly weapons in States 
with no current assault weapon ban. In Florida, Illinois, Indiana, 
Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, 
Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia, bills have been introduced to 
impose an assault weapons ban for the first time.
  All of these States have strong hunting or sporting traditions, but 
the sponsors of these bills recognize that no one needs an assault 
weapon to hunt or target shoot.
  In other States, bills have been introduced to regulate assault 
weapons. An Arizona bill would require the sale of any assault weapon 
be done through a licensed gun dealer.
  Bills in Kentucky and Texas would require one to obtain a license to 
purchase an assault weapon. The Kentucky bill would also require the 
registration of assault weapons and handguns. That is Kentucky.
  Some bills have been introduced that would go even further than the 
amendment I have introduced today. California is seeking to strengthen 
its ban, going from a one-characteristic test to a zero-characteristic 
test. This bill would prohibit any semiautomatic rifle capable of 
accepting a detachable magazine.
  A bill in South Carolina would require the government to seize any 
assault weapons used in certain crimes.
  Even though more States are banning assault weapons, the need for a 
Federal ban has never been greater. If only California or New York bans 
assault weapons, nothing stops an individual from buying an assault 
weapon in a neighboring State, then crossing the border to commit 
violence. At a Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Durbin mentioned 
that guns are coming into the city of Chicago which are being traced to 
the State of Mississippi.
  I believe if this legislation does not pass, we will see bills passed 
in a number of States. That will result in a confusing patchwork of 
laws with different standards in different States. If this bill goes 
down, States will, I believe, pass additional legislation. It is only a 
question of time.
  Some suggest there may not be enough support in the Senate to pass 
the Assault Weapons Ban. But the support is there among the American 
people. In poll after poll, that support is there. In no poll--even 
with all the discussion, even with the mobilization of gun owners and 
the NRA, a majority in every single national poll done shows that the 
majority want controls over assault weapons. I know of no poll done 
this year that shows less than a majority to reinstate a Federal ban on 
assault weapons. We have more than 170 organizations covering a wide 
range of groups that have endorsed the bill. Here are a few:
  Major Cities Chiefs; International Association of Chiefs of Police; 
American Medical Association; American Academy of Nursing; American 
Academy of Pediatrics; National Education Association; American 
Federation of Teachers; the Children's Defense Fund; the Sierra Club; 
the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; the United States 
Conference of Mayors; the National League of Cities; more than 800 
mayors from across the country; Tom Ridge, former Governor and Homeland 
Security Secretary; John Warner, former Republican Senator from 
  Few bills ever have such broad support, and I ask unanimous consent 
to have printed in the Record a list of endorsements.
  I have also received letters and calls from Americans across the 
country, from all walks of life, including gun owners, who demand that 
we stop these weapons of war from claiming more innocent victims. I 
even had a member of the NRA call me and say, ``I am a hunter and I 
have an AR-15 but I don't need it, and I am turning it in.''
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record excerpts from 
these letters.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

            Endorsements for the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

       Law Enforcement: International Association of Campus Law 
     Enforcement Administrators, International Association of 
     Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, National 
     Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, National Law 
     Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, National 
     Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Police 
     Executive Research Forum, Police Foundation, Women in Federal 
     Law Enforcement, Chaska, Minn. Chief of Police Scott Knight 
     (former chairman of the Firearms Committee, International 
     Association of Chiefs of Police), Los

[[Page S2703]]

     Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles Police Chief 
     Charlie Beck, San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne
       Localities: U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of 
     Cities, Boston City Council, Los Angeles County Board of 
     Supervisors, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent 
     Anthony Smith, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Luis 
     Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, Santa Cruz Board of 
     Supervisors, Ventura County Board of Supervisors
       California Mayors: Alameda Mayor Amanda Gilmore, Chula 
     Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, Los 
     Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Malibu Mayor Lou La 
     Monte, Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder, former Morro Bay Mayor 
     Janice Peters, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Orange Cove Mayor 
     Gabriel Jimenez, Petaluma Mayor David Glass, Pleasant Hill 
     Mayor Michael Harris, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, San 
     Diego Mayor Bob Filner, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, San 
     Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, Santa 
     Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene 
     Schneider, Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant, Saratoga Mayor 
     Jill Hunter, Tiburon Mayor Emmett O'Donnell
       California Cities: Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Chula Vista, 
     Del Mar, Encinitas, Lemon Grove, Los Angeles, National City, 
     Petaluma, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Ventura, West 
       Gun Safety: Arizonans for Gun Safety, Arizona People Acting 
     for a Safer Society, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 
     Ceasefire Oregon, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Hoosiers 
     Concerned About Gun Violence, Illinois Council Against 
     Handgun Violence, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Mayors 
     Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in 
     America, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, Protect 
     Minnesota,, Violence Policy Center, 
     Washington Ceasefire, Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, Women 
     Against Gun Violence
       Education/Child Welfare: 20 Children, American Federation 
     of Teachers, California PTA, California Teachers Association, 
     Child Welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund, 
     Every Child Matters, Los Angeles Community College District, 
     MomsRising, National Association of Social Workers, National 
     PTA, National Education Association, NewSchools Venture Fund, 
     San Diego Unified School District, Save the Children, United 
     States Student Association
       Religious: African Methodist Episcopal Church, Alliance of 
     Baptists, American Baptist Churches of the South, American 
     Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Friends Service 
     Committee, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Camp 
     Brotherhood, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Health 
     Association, Catholic Health Initiatives, Catholics in 
     Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United, Church of the 
     Brethren, Church Women United, Inc., Conference of Major 
     Superiors of Men, Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church 
     (Disciples of Christ), Dominican Sisters of Peace, Faiths 
     United To Prevent Gun Violence, Franciscan Action Network, 
     Friends Committee on National Legislation, Health Ministries 
     Association, Heeding God's Call, Hindu American Foundation, 
     Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, Islamic Society of North 
     America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish 
     Reconstructionist Movement, Leadership Conference of Women 
     Religious, Mennonite Central Committee, (Washington Office), 
     National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, 
     National Council of Churches, National Episcopal Health 
     Ministries, NETWORK (A National Catholic Social Justice 
     Lobby), Pathways Faith Community, Pax Christi USA, PICO 
     Network Lifelines to Healing, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 
     Office of Public Witness, Progressive National Baptist 
     Convention, Rabbinical Assembly, Religious Action Center of 
     Reform Judaism, San Francisco Interfaith Council, Sikh 
     Council on Religion and Education, USA, Sisters of Mercy of 
     the Americas, Sojourners, Unitarian Universalist Association 
     of Congregations, United Church of Christ, United Methodist 
     Church, United Methodist Women, United States Conference of 
     Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human 
     Development, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 
     Washington National Cathedral, Women of Reform Judaism
       Health care: American Academy of Nursing, American Academy 
     of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, American 
     Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical 
     Association, American Public Health Association, Association 
     for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare, California Medical 
     Association, Doctors for America, National Association of 
     School Nurses, National Physicians Alliance, Physicians for 
     Social Responsibility, San Francisco Mental Health 
     Association, Society for the Advancement of Violence and 
     Injury Research, Society of General Internal Medicine
       Other: Alliance for Business Leadership, American Bar 
     Association, Black American Political Association of 
     California, Center For American Progress Action Fund, 
     Grandmothers for Peace International, L.A. Gay & Lesbian 
     Center, League of Women Voters of the United States, National 
     Parks Conservation Association, NAACP, Precision Remotes, 
     Sierra Club, TASH,, Washington Office on Latin 
       Former Elected Officials: Former California Governor 
     Deukmejian, Former Secretary of the Department of Homeland 
     Security Tom Ridge, Former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, Former 
     U.S. Senator John Warner

   Constituent Letters in Support of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

                          Paul D.--Newtown, CT

       . . . There is no practical distinction between the rate of 
     fire produced by this weapon and that produced by a fully 
     automatic machine gun. While one weapon is clearly illegal, 
     the other is legal because the outdated words used to 
     describe it suggest a distinction that no longer exists. This 
     dangerous inconsistency has essentially undermined existing 
     law, putting the practical equivalent of banned weapons back 
     on our streets.
       The result has been devastating for our community and too 
     many like it across the country. Legally, logically, and 
     morally, your obligation is clear: we need you to take action 
     now. Please support S. 150. . . .

                          Gina M.--Newtown, CT

       . . . Six children at Sandy Hook School were able to 
     squeeze past the gunman in a doorway because he had to stop 
     to reload. How many more would have been spared had his 
     magazines been smaller? Think of those children, who had to 
     watch their teacher and classmates brutally murdered in front 
     of their eyes, now think of your own children. Think of your 
     grandchildren. Think about the parents and spouses who have 
     to live with the horror of knowing their children spent their 
     last few minutes in terror and in pain as the bullets 
     shredded their flesh. Think about the survivors of that 
     massacre, also victims, who will have to deal with their own 
     mental health issues for decades to come. . . .

                        Richard A.--Newtown, CT

       . . . Our pediatric practice lost several patients. I held 
     two of these babies in my arms in the delivery room when they 
     were born. And I was at the firehouse that night with the 
     older brother of one of our children.
       This event has altered so many lives. One mother told me, 
     having lost her daughter, that her sons saved her life.
       These guns, these bullets blew open these children's heads, 
     their bodies, their limbs. In what kind of society do we 
     live, whereby these weapons are needed to defend and protect?
       Do we need to splatter bodies and blood in order to defend? 
     Do we need to shatter bones and decapitate our tyrannical 
     governments? How can anyone justify these self proclaimed 
     weapons of mass destruction . . .?

                        Michelle D.--Newtown, CT

       . . . No one should have to live in fear. No one should 
     have to live looking over their shoulder while shopping in a 
     mall, grocery store, taking in a movie, attending school or 
     simply going about their lives. No one should have to put 
     their kids on their school bus and fear that they may not 
     come home. NO ONE. . . .

                       Christina D.--Newtown, CT

       . . . We have no more time to waste. We must change for 
     those lost at Sandy Hook, for the town of Newtown, for our 
     country, for our children. We must protect our nation's 
     people. . . .

                      Po M.--Newtown, Connecticut

       I am a mother of four children (who graduated from Sandy 
     Hook Elementary School) and the shooter lived in my 
     neighborhood. We lost our neighbors, educators, and principal 
     on that dreadful morning on December 14, 2012. Our 
     neighborhood is one of the safest places in this country. 
     Sandy Hook Elementary School was one of the most nurturing 
     environment for my four children therefore we were in a state 
     of shock when we heard the horrific news on December 14th.
       I believe stronger gun regulations would have saved lives 
     on that tragic day. I also believe if millions of people in 
     this nation demanded change after Columbine, Virginia Tech, 
     Tucson and Aurora then maybe just maybe this type of massacre 
     in our neighborhood elementary school could have been 
     avoided. It is unacceptable for us to not take action. Too 
     many Americans are dying every year. You acted swiftly and 
     boldly to institute measures to improve public safety after 
     September 11th and you must do the same after December 14th. 
     We have the right to feel safe in our schools, malls, movie 
     theaters, places of worship, work place, salons and on our 
     city streets.
       I made a promise on December 14th that I will no longer 
     stay silent and do more to save lives by writing, e-mailing 
     and calling the lawmakers. I traveled down to Washington DC 
     with 40 Newtown teachers, clergy, parents, students, other 
     members of Newtown Action Alliance and families of victims on 
     February 26th and 27th to meet with congressional leaders and 
     to attend Senator Feinstein's Assault Weapons Ban hearing. We 
     shared our stories of tragic loss, our pain and we asked many 
     of you to honor the 26 lives by helping us to turn our 
     tragedy into meaningful action and change. Please have the 
     political courage to save American lives by banning military-
     style assault weapons, prohibiting gun trafficking, requiring 
     universal background check on all gun purchases and limiting 
     high capacity magazines. You have the ability to save lives 
     and I am asking for your leadership.

                         Aimee P.--Newtown, CT

       . . . Over the past two months, I have brought meals to 
     neighbors who have lost children, and wept with friends who 
     have had to tell their six-year-olds that five of their young 
     friends had died. I have seen surviving

[[Page S2704]]

     Sandy Hook students cling desperately to their parents, to 
     their dolls, to their dogs. I have watched parents of 
     surviving Sandy Hook students withdraw from their support 
     systems. I have seen my own son, who just turned three, 
     develop a sudden fear of monsters. The effects of this 
     shooting, even in a community as supportive and loving as 
     Newtown, will be with all of us forever.
       In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, children were 
     able to escape. While it is unrealistic to think that we can 
     stop every incidence of gun violence in this country, we have 
     a moral obligation to do what we can to reduce the 
     unacceptably high rate of gun-related deaths every year. A 
     weapon that can put eleven bullets in a six-year-old in a 
     matter of seconds has no place on our streets or in our 
     communities. . . .

                               Merlyn L.

       . . . I have been a member of the NRA since 1979 and I am 
     willing to state they have gone way too far. They are 
     promoting anarchy and overthrowing the government. Why are we 
     allowing people to shoot each other at the movies and in 
     schools? This is sick, we don't need these weapons. We got 
     rid of the Wild Wild West a long time ago. . . .

                               Douglas M.

       . . . End this madness with people believing they have some 
     right to own any kind of gun they wish and that it can shoot 
     as many bullets as possible without reloading. Guns today 
     have turned into a kind of game in which many people who have 
     never served in the military pretend to be at war. . . .

                                Mary L.

       . . . I am a life-long Republican, but fully support the 
     ban on assault weapons. I also support the universal 
     background checks as proposed by President Obama. . . .

                                 Jim S.

       . . . As PAST NRA members, I fully support President 
     Obama's gun control plan. The NRA has no business in our 
     government. . . .
       . . . I spent 22 years in the U.S. Army defending our 
     country--two of those years in Viet Nam.

                               Robert A.

       Please stand strong with President Obama regarding 
     meaningful gun control legislation--specifically regarding 
     assault rifles. I carried them in the army and in Viet Nam. 
     They are made for two purposes and two purposes only--to kill 
     as many people as you can in the shortest time possible and 
     kill a person with as much damage to the person as 
     possible!!! There is no need for civilians to have these 
     weapons of mass destruction.

                                Paul N.

       I am a multiple gun owning hunter and target shooting 
     enthusiast. I also support MUCH tougher gun control laws, far 
     beyond just assault weapon bans. We need to have strict 
     registration and control of all weaponry as well and closing 
     the ease of purchase loopholes. . . .

                       Gordon S.--Cottonwood, CA

       As a gun owner, I have given up membership in the NRA, 
     whose solutions to gun violence seem outrageously stupid  . . 
     . I'm not a big Obama fan, but his stance, in light of mass 
     gun violence on our ``babies'' seems reasonable. The NRA'S 
     statement of position, it seems to me, leads us into a spiral 
     of hate and destruction that may be violently braced from the 
     ``other'' side; our lives do not have to become ones of 
     revenge and fear. . . .

                     Barbara C.--Arroyo Grande, CA

       My mother was killed by a gun blast when I was 13 years 
     old. I am now 76 and the pain and memory remains. . . . I 
     accept individual that hunt and feel a need to protect 
     themselves in isolated areas, however our gun culture has 
     caused many like me to suffer beyond words and the loss of 
     young and too many lives. . . .

                         Uma L.--Virginia Tech

        . . . Had there been a ban on high capacity magazines, I 
     am confident the death toll, the injured toll would not be as 
     high as it was. Had my father's murderer used an assault 
     weapon that day, I know for certain that many who are alive 
     now--many who have become my friends--would not be with me 
     today. . . .
        . . . The day my father went to teach--went to die, 
     really--he was sick. He was running a fever, and even though 
     it was April, he felt cold. My mother didn't want him to go 
     in, but he went anyway. That was the type of man he was--he 
     believed in his duty, and he always did it. He was right 
     where he was supposed to be--the right place at the right 
     time. And yet, he never came home. He never came home because 
     he was dead, and that was how I saw him next. Though I tried 
     to warm his hands, they were like ice. And when I said 
     goodbye, his lips were cold and there was no laughter. For 
     the first time ever, my father is somewhere I cannot follow . 
     . . .
        . . . Somehow, the impact of gun violence and what it 
     means to lose someone is something that we don't talk about 
     in this country. It's as if the subject is taboo, a dirty 
     secret to be shoved under the carpet. . . .
        . . . Here's what we do talk about: our right to the 
     second amendment. We talk about the right to bear arms and 
     the right to protect ourselves. We talk about the right to 
     carry our weapons in the street, our right to have them on 
     our person at all times. We talk about the right to arm our 
     children, our parents, our country. We talk about our right 
     to bear the arms we like and our right to shoot the bullets 
     we like.
       Since my father's passing, I've heard many things. Some of 
     these comments include: ``I know you're grieving, but it [the 
     loss of a parent] is part of the natural order.''
       ``If your father'd had an assault weapon that day, he'd 
     still be alive.''
       ``It was a tragedy. A battlefield was created that day. If 
     only someone'd had a gun.''
       . . . I find each of these statements to be appalling . . .
       . . . Death by gun is something that should never become 
     normal. The idea of a battlefield becoming part of the common 
     course of everyday life horrifies me . . .
       . . . Your everyday life should not be a battlefield. It 
     should be a place where you are safe, where you can go about 
     your business without fear. No one should have to worry about 
     facing down the barrel of a gun. Not when they are at home, 
     far away from a theatre of war.
       Assault weapons and high capacity magazines are both things 
     that belong to theatres of war. . . . In Seung-Hui Cho's 
     case, he fired more than 158 bullets in less than ten minutes 
     at Virginia Tech. His gun never jammed, and there was no 
     window of opportunity for someone to tackle him. Had he had 
     lower capacity magazines, a window of opportunity might have 
     opened, and the casualties would have been less. . . .
       . . . While some claimed that high capacity magazines would 
     be necessary in the hypothetical situation of five or six 
     attackers, the fact remains that it is a hypothetical. The 
     issues we are discussing now are not hypothetical--they are 
     painfully real. The murder of my father is not a 
     hypothetical. It is real, and it happened because a sick boy 
     got his hands on a gun and high capacity magazines and used 
     it to murder. If he had not had access to guns, much less 
     high capacity magazines, I would not be writing this letter 
     today. . . .

                        Patricia M.--Tucson, AZ

       . . . The shooter was stopped, not by another man with a 
     gun, but by two ordinary citizens there that day to talk with 
     our Representative, Gabrielle Giffords. If the shooter was 
     forced to reload because the magazine only held ten or 15 
     bullets Roger and Bill might have been able to tackle him 
     sooner--and fewer human beings might have been murdered or 
     wounded, fewer families wrenching with the pain and sorrow of 
     a loved one being murdered on a sidewalk.
       That high capacity magazine coupled with a semi-automatic 
     weapon gave horrific killing capability to the shooter. . . .

                               Melissa L.

       . . . In my 30 years as an RN working in Trauma centers, I 
     have witnessed the destruction of guns--the useless senseless 
     destruction of life. I am appalled that the NRA and other gun 
     advocates do not believe in gun control and background 
     checks. I support your efforts and the efforts of President 
     Obama. . . .

                          Cliff P.--Hemet, CA

       . . . I understand that there are many fine people that are 
     NRA members, but, at some point, they are going to see that 
     their beliefs are being ignored by the money that is poured 
     into the NRA by the gun makers.
       As to my personal stance on this issue, I actually did a 
     little hunting when young. I have friends that like to keep a 
     gun in their home. I'm just a guy that cannot find any reason 
     for assault weapons being in the hands of anyone outside of 
     law enforcement.

                        Gary W.--Lake Forest, CA

       . . . As a former marine and gun enthusiast, I support your 
     bill completely. USMC boot camp was 12 weeks long, of which 
     the combat school and rifle range portion was 5 weeks long. . 
     . .
       . . . I bet no more than 5% of the purchasers of assault 
     weapons of all kinds know anything about the PROPER care and 
     maintenance and use of the new toys they bought.

                        Doris J.--Santa Ana, CA

       . . . I am a second generation native Californian and 
     licensed gun owner who whole-heartedly supports your efforts 
     to ban private ownership of assault weapons and multi-round 
     clips. . . .

                        Jeff M.--Watsonville, CA

       I am writing to you as a gun owner. I FULLY SUPPORT your 
     initiative to ban assault weapons and high capacity 
     magazines. Thank you for standing up to those who say it will 
     never happen. I say it can.

                        Sarah W.--San Pedro, CA

       . . . My six-year-old niece, Allison Wyatt, was a victim of 
     the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The pain felt by 
     my family and the entire community is indescribable.
       I am writing to offer my assistance and the assistance of 
     my family members in securing support for gun control 
     legislation. We are willing to help in any way we can. . . .

                       Shweta N.--Los Angeles, CA

       . . . renew the assault rifle ban in the United States. As 
     a pediatrician, I have seen too many suicides, accidental 
     deaths or injuries, and homicides resulting from laxities in 
     gun safety and control.
       I must advocate for my patients, who cannot speak with 
     their own vote. Please stand for gun control. . . .

                        Gary V.--Cloverdale, CA

       I am a gun owner, former Fresno California police officer, 
     San Mateo County probation

[[Page S2705]]

     officer, correctional counselor and court administrator. I 
     spent 17 years of my Career dedicated to law enforcement and 
     corrections mostly in California.
       I support a complete ban on the possession of any . . . 
     assault rifle or military weapon designed to fire more than 7 
     rounds of ammunition without reloading. . . .
       . . . When your everyday citizen has access to such 
     firearms it presents an enormous threat to police, fire and 
     everyone else in the community. None of my fellow police 
     officers, probation officers, etc. ever supported the 
     possession of assault rifles or military weapons in the hands 
     of the general public. We all knew it was a bad idea we had 
     to deal with the danger it created daily.
       It is time for the madness to stop and for meaningful 
     legislation to be passed . . . The 2nd Amendment has been 
     grossly interpreted by a group that plays on fear and 
     generates enormous wealth for weapons manufac-
     turers. . . .

                       Stephen R.--Sacramento, CA

       . . . I am 18 years old with plans for my life and I do not 
     want to have to live in fear of dying young. I am absolutely 
     sick of innocent people dying because of guns, and I am 
     absolutely appalled that people are vehemently against 
     banning firearms and other assault weapons. I fully support 
     your move to ban assault weapons. I am young and I want to 
     live my life in peace. I demand the right to live in a 
     country free of the fear of gun violence.

                       Thomas P.--Sacramento, CA

       . . . I grew up in Shasta County and was raised on a family 
     cattle ranch. Guns were part of our everyday life and I have 
     used them to hunt . . . I understand the concerns of rural 
     gun owners and I do believe that their rights should be 
     protected. But protecting those rights must not come at the 
     cost of all of our safety. For too long, people have been 
     able to buy dangerous (nearly-automatic) weapons in secret 
     and amass dangerous arsenals of weapons that have no 
     legitimate purpose. . . .
       . . . The same people who claim that they will go bankrupt 
     if taxes are raised one nickel, don't bat an eye at spending 
     thousands of dollars on a new gun. . . .
       . . . People in some parts of the state are now talking 
     openly about how their second amendment rights are there to 
     enable them to defend against government tyranny. This 
     seditious talk is very frightening. I can't imagine what 
     these people think would result from armed conflict with 
     their own government . . . These people seem to think they 
     are going to be heroes in some post-apocalyptic fantasy; they 
     have lost their foothold on reality and they are very 
       . . . Please let these delusional whackos know that they 
     are not living in the state of Jefferson, they are living in 
     America, and we are a country of laws. . . .

                        Susan E.--San Diego, CA

       . . . I am a retired educator, who has experienced school 
     violence first hand. I was the only administrator on campus 
     when Andrew Williams killed two students and wounded 13 
     others at Santana High School . . . This senseless violence 
     has to come to an end. The rights to life and safety have 
     been forgotten in the rhetoric over 2nd amendment rights.

                      Mindy F.--San Francisco, CA

       . . . I was doing my job, I was protecting my kids and I 
     was being a positive citizen in my community. I was 
     exercising my right to the freedom of my religion and Buford 
     O'Neal Furrow (a convicted felon out on parole who was deemed 
     mentally unstable by authorities) tried to take all that away 
     from me. And because of the easy accessibility of assault 
     weapons and large capacity ammunition clips guns in this 
     country he was able to do that without a second thought.
       To me the idea of living in a free country is the ability 
     to live my life to the fullest. To be allowed to celebrate my 
     faith alongside others of many faiths and not be persecuted 
     for it . . . To be allowed to walk through life without the 
     fear of being gunned down on the job. . . .
       . . . I hope that this letter reminds those voting on these 
     bills that there are real people and faces that are dealing 
     with these tragedies. We are not just stories and not just 
     victims. We are survivors what want to make sure what we 
     lived through can never happen to anyone else. . . .

  To conclude, not every issue we vote on in the Senate is a life-or-
death matter. I deeply believe this is. Since the original Federal 
Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, there have been more than 460 
incidents involving assault weapons, and here they are listed, 460 of 
  The most important duty a government has is to protect its citizens' 
safety. When 20 beautiful first graders are slaughtered, our government 
has failed that duty. When 12 are killed and 58 are wounded in a movie 
theater--a safe place--our government has failed its duty. When people 
are gunned down in malls, parking lots, and their offices, our 
government has failed that duty.
  I do not believe our values are stronger because we allowed 
individuals to own weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing as 
many people as possible. And we must not resign ourselves to these 
tragedies. They cannot become just another fact of American life. We 
have a duty, I deeply believe, to take steps to stop these mass murders 
that have one common element--the use of assault weapons and high-
capacity magazines.
  Through hearings and markups, we have heard no compelling reason not 
to pass this legislation. Not a single court decision has been cited 
that suggests a ban is unconstitutional. No one can credibly dispute 
law enforcement testimony that assault weapons are more lethal than 
other weapons. A majority of Americans support taking action.
  I urge my colleagues to vote on this amendment based on its merits, 
not with an eye toward politics or ratings from gun lobbying groups. It 
is a time to stand tall. As Gabby Giffords said: You must act. Be bold. 
Be courageous.
  So I ask you to stand with the thousands of police chiefs and law 
enforcement officers who support this bill. Stand with the doctors and 
other health professionals who support this bill. Stand with the 
religious leaders who support this bill. And stand with the victims of 
gun violence and their families who support this bill. The time has 
come to take these weapons of war off our streets, away from criminals, 
grievance killers, and the mentally deranged. I urge my colleagues to 
stand tall and support this amendment.
  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I wish to add my voice to those who have 
called on this floor for actions that address the epidemic of gun 
violence in America. I strongly favor passage of legislation to address 
the loopholes that have allowed too many violent individuals to 
circumvent the background checks designed to keep them from committing 
horrific acts. I support the amendment offered by Senator Feinstein to 
add to that legislation a ban on new military-style assault weapons and 
high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  In May of 1999, I spoke to the Economic Club of Detroit in the 
aftermath of the Columbine shootings. I was surrounded by educators, 
clergy, law enforcement officials, and businesspeople who had dedicated 
their lives to protecting young people from an epidemic of gun violence 
in our city. I asked, ``Are we willing to say enough is enough?''
  That was 14 years ago next month. Since then, I have placed hundreds 
of speeches on this issue in the Congressional Record. After all that 
time and all those speeches, the question remains: ``Are we willing to 
say enough is enough?'' After Columbine, after Aurora, after Newtown, 
after the deaths and injuries of thousands of innocent people, many of 
them children, can we now say enough is enough?
  This is what the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun 
Violence says on this topic:

       Assault weapons were designed for the battlefield and have 
     no place in our communities. These weapons were developed to 
     enable a shooter to rapidly spray-fire multiple rounds at an 
     enemy in combat, not to gun down small children, moviegoers, 
     firefighters--or the law enforcement officers protecting 

  This coalition includes the International Association of Chiefs of 
Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the International 
Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the National 
Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, the National 
Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Police Executive 
Research Forum, and the Police Foundation. These groups--each of them 
dedicated to the safety of our people--tell us that the threat these 
weapons present to public safety, indeed, to the safety of those who 
keep us safe--is too great for us to allow it to continue.
  Even in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings and other horrific 
tragedies, some have argued that the problem with our society is not 
too much weaponry but too little. What these folks want, essentially, 
is to send Americans into combat. This is particularly true of these 
assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which are specifically 
designed for military combat.
  Now, our local and State police forces spend billions of dollars 
every year providing countless hours of training to law enforcement 
officers on how to react in a situation where they might have to fire 
their weapon. The U.S. Marine Corps sends its recruits

[[Page S2706]]

through a 59-day course before they are considered ready for combat, 
and those marines train relentlessly to keep their combat skills sharp. 
Yet, as any experienced police officer or marine or soldier will tell 
you, for all their training and skill, combat is chaotic. Telling 
friend from foe is never easy. And now some voices call for bringing 
that same level of combat to our streets and schools.
  We can no longer be frozen into passivity. We must instead respond to 
the majority of Americans who support a Federal assault weapons ban and 
a ban on high-capacity magazines. Their voices and the voices of 
anguished families and of deeply concerned law enforcement officials 
should carry the day. We should heed those voices, support the 
Feinstein amendment and the underlying bill, and finally take action 
against this plague of violence.
  Madam President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Heitkamp). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I ask that all time be equally 
divided between both sides.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Amendment No. 719

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, the Second Amendment of the U.S. 
Constitution is not merely about hunting, recreational shooting, or 
marksmanship, nor is it discretionary. This is one of the provisions of 
the Bill of Rights that the Founding Framers of our Constitution were 
so passionate about that they made sure it was included in our 
Constitution as part of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. It 
is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. But its real significance is 
much greater. Indeed, the Second Amendment has long been viewed as a 
bulwark of individual liberty. It guarantees the most basic civil right 
in a free society, the right that allows responsible, patriotic, law-
abiding citizens to defend themselves, to defend their families, and to 
defend their homes--all of this without having to rely on the 
  It is no mystery to any of us that the Federal Government--or State 
or local governments, including law enforcement--is not omnipresent. 
There are many parts of our country where law enforcement is a long way 
away or simply unavailable. So the Second Amendment preserves the right 
of responsible, law-abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves, 
their families, and their homes without having to rely upon an 
omnipresent law enforcement presence.
  The Founding Fathers understood that the right of self-defense can 
become meaningless without the right to keep and bear arms. Some are 
pushing to curtail Second Amendment rights in the hope of preventing 
another mass shooting. I share the sorrow of the families who are 
grieving over their loved ones who were lost. I have had the privilege 
and honor of meeting some of the families. I wish it were as easy as 
some would suggest to solve the problem with the wave of a magic wand 
or to pass some bill. Here is the inconvenient fact that advocates of 
strict gun control ignore--one of the facts. Every mass shooting 
committed in the United States over the last 63 years, including the 
Newtown shooting, occurred in a gun-free zone. In other words, in each 
of these horrific instances the attacks took place in an area where 
law-abiding citizens had effectively been disarmed.
  I listened to the remarks of the distinguished Senator from 
California who I know passionately believes there has to be some 
solution legislatively we could pass that would prevent the repetition 
of some of these terrible tragedies. But she conceded herself that no 
background bill would have prevented Adam Lanza from acquiring these 
weapons which he effectively stole from his mother and then murdered 
her with those same weapons before committing further atrocities at 
Sandy Hook Elementary School.
  We do know that if the current law was enforced that the Virginia 
Tech shooter would have been prevented from acquiring guns legally 
because we know he had already been adjudicated mentally ill by the 
State of Virginia. But those records were never transmitted to the FBI 
to be included in a background check. We know the shooter in Tucson 
failed a drug test, a disqualifying fact for somebody to be able to 
legally purchase firearms, given a background check. But that 
information was never transmitted to the FBI, so the Tucson shooter was 
not prevented from buying weapons, even though he should have been 
disqualified if the background check system had been working the way it 
  I believe the most appropriate response to the recent mass shootings 
is to make sure that our current laws involving mental illness, drug 
use, mental health adjudications are enforced more aggressively and 
more efficiently. But at the same time, while we are trying to find a 
solution to these problems and not just engage in meaningless 
symbolism, we should not be making it harder for law-abiding citizens 
to exercise their constitutional rights under the Second Amendment.
  We can and we should embrace realistic, effective solutions to the 
mental health problem because no one I know believes that a mentally 
ill person should be able to purchase a firearm. But we also should not 
erode the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in the process. 
I think we will have an opportunity to vote on such a bill during the 
course of these debates.
  In order to bolster the freedom of law-abiding citizens to keep and 
bear arms, I am offering an amendment that would allow Americans with 
concealed handgun licenses issued by their own States to exercise those 
rights in other States whose State law authorizes the issuance of a 
concealed handgun license. This is not a national standard. This is 
respecting the rights of individual States to determine whether they 
will in fact issue a concealed handgun license and to allow those 
persons who have a concealed handgun license issued by their home State 
to have that firearm legally in another State.
  This is an interesting chart. You will notice that only two places in 
the country--the red, the District of Columbia and the State of 
Illinois--are the only two places in the country that do not have a 
regime of concealed handgun license issuance--only two, the District of 
Columbia and Illinois.
  This amendment would not allow for concealed carry in Illinois or the 
District of Columbia, both of which have banned that entirely. Nor 
would this amendment affect the right of every State to set its own 
laws with regard to concealed carry. It would not establish a national 
standard for concealed carry and it would not allow anyone to disobey 
the laws of his or her home State. What it would do is effectively 
treat concealed carry licenses as a driver's license. If you are 
driving from Virginia to Texas, you do not have to obtain a separate 
driver's license for each State you drive through, but you do have to 
obey the speed limits and other laws of the State in which you are 
driving. This legislation would create a similar system for concealed 
carry permits. If it becomes the law of the land, someone with a 
concealed carry permit in Texas would no longer have to worry about 
obtaining a separate one when he or she was traveling across the 
country. However, all Texans would still have to follow the concealed 
carry laws in the State in which they happen to be located, just as 
residents of other States still have to follow the traffic laws of the 
State, even if they have a Texas driver's license. If they are in New 
York they still have to obey the traffic laws of New York.

  This bill is very similar to an amendment that won the support of 58 
Senators back in 2009, including 13 Democrats who are still serving in 
this Chamber. I would add that, for those who argue about the 
effectiveness of background checks--and I certainly agree that for 
people in the business of selling guns that background checks

[[Page S2707]]

are and should be the standard--but a concealed handgun license is like 
a background check on steroids. It is far more intrusive into the 
privacy and the background of the person who applies for a handgun 
license, so this standard ought to be one that those who support a 
robust background check regime could also support.
  It is also a bipartisan idea that would make it easier for law-
abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights and it would 
avoid the ``gotcha'' and a prosecution that might otherwise occur. If 
concealed handgun licensees happen to be traveling across the country 
and possess a firearm, without this law they might otherwise be 
prosecuted for a criminal offense.
  Just one final point. For more than two decades now, one of the 
biggest supporters of concealed carry has been a remarkable Texas woman 
by the name of Suzanna Hupp. In October 1991, Suzanna and her parents 
were finishing their lunch at a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, TX, when a 
mentally ill man drove his truck into the restaurant, pulled out his 
gun, and began opening fire on customers.
  When Suzanna realized what was happening, she reached into her purse 
to retrieve her handgun, but then she remembered her gun was not in her 
purse, it was in her car because Texas law at the time did not 
authorize a concealed handgun permit. As Suzanna told the Senate 
Judiciary Committee in chilling testimony a few months ago, ``I wanted 
to be a law-abiding citizen.''
  Her father courageously tried to tackle the gunman but was shot in 
the chest. Her mother was also eventually killed too. Thankfully, 
Suzanna escaped and she quickly became a powerful champion of concealed 
carry, which Texas legalized in 1995. Suzanna later on ran for the 
Texas legislature, where she served for 10 years. I thank her for all 
she has done to bring this issue home in ways that all of us can 
understand, and to protect the Second Amendment rights of responsible, 
patriotic, law-abiding citizens. Suzanna understands very well that we 
must never ever criminalize law-abiding citizens exercising their 
Second Amendment rights by passing misguided legislation which 
encroaches on those rights and does not solve the real problem, which 
we can do and I hope we will take up in enforcing existing laws and 
dealing with the mental health component that is a common element in so 
much of this legislation.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to call up my 
amendment numbered 719.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the amendment.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Texas [Mr. Cornyn], for himself and Mr. 
     Vitter, proposes an amendment numbered 719.

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that further 
reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

 (Purpose: To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed 

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:


       (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the 
     ``Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013''.
       (b) Reciprocity for the Carrying of Certain Concealed 
       (1) In general.--Chapter 44 of title 18, United States 
     Code, is amended by inserting after section 926C the 

     ``Sec. 926D. Reciprocity for the carrying of certain 
       concealed firearms

       ``(a) In General.--Notwithstanding any provision of the law 
     of any State or political subdivision thereof to the 
       ``(1) an individual who is not prohibited by Federal law 
     from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a 
     firearm, and who is carrying a government-issued photographic 
     identification document and a valid license or permit which 
     is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits 
     the individual to carry a concealed firearm, may possess or 
     carry a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or 
     destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in 
     interstate or foreign commerce in any State other than the 
     State of residence of the individual that--
       ``(A) has a statue that allows residents of the State to 
     obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms; or
       ``(B) does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms 
     by residents of the State for lawful purposes; and
       ``(2) an individual who is not prohibited by Federal law 
     from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a 
     firearm, and who is carrying a government-issued photographic 
     identification document and is entitled and not prohibited 
     from carrying a concealed firearm in the State in which the 
     individual resides otherwise than as described in paragraph 
     (1), may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a 
     machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or 
     transported in interstate or foreign commerce in any State 
     other than the State of residence of the individual that--
       ``(A) has a statute that allows residents of the State to 
     obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms; or
       ``(B) does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms 
     by residents of the State for lawful purposes.
       ``(b) Conditions and Limitations.--The possession or 
     carrying of a concealed handgun in a State under this section 
     shall be subject to the same conditions and limitations, 
     except as to eligibility to possess or carry, imposed by or 
     under Federal or State law or the law of a political 
     subdivision of a State, that apply to the possession or 
     carrying of a concealed handgun by residents of the State or 
     political subdivision who are licensed by the State or 
     political subdivision to do so, or not prohibited by the 
     State from doing so.
       ``(c) Unrestricted License or Permit.--In a State that 
     allows the issuing authority for licenses or permits to carry 
     concealed firearms to impose restrictions on the carrying of 
     firearms by individual holders of such licenses or permits, 
     an individual carrying a concealed handgun under this section 
     shall be permitted to carry a concealed handgun according to 
     the same terms authorized by an unrestricted license of or 
     permit issued to a resident of the State.
       ``(d) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this section shall 
     be construed to preempt any provision of State law with 
     respect to the issuance of licenses or permits to carry 
     concealed firearms.''.
       (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections for chapter 
     44 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting 
     after the item relating to section 926C the following:

``926D. Reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.''.

       (3) Severability.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
     this Act, if any provision of this section, or any amendment 
     made by this section, or the application of such provision or 
     amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be 
     unconstitutional, this section and amendments made by this 
     section and the application of such provision or amendment to 
     other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
       (4) Effective date.--The amendments made by this section 
     shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this 

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I know this afternoon at 4 p.m. we will 
vote on a series of amendments. For all of us who were worried and 
concerned about these episodes of senseless gun violence, I think we 
can actually find a solution not by encroaching on the rights of law-
abiding citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights but by 
focusing on the areas where we can make a difference.
  We need to enforce current laws on the books better, more 
efficiently, and more uniformly. We also need to deal with the mental 
health component which is common to so many of these mass shooting 
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, my home State of Vermont does not require 
its citizens to obtain a permit to carry a firearm in a concealed 
manner, and the people of Vermont have exercised these privileges 
carefully and respectfully. Citizens respect the wishes of private 
property owners and restrictions in government buildings, and this is a 
regulatory framework that has worked in Vermont, and it is a set of 
rules that have been considered and adopted by the people and elected 
officials of Vermont, without interference from those who do not know 
Vermont or its citizens.
  These are judgments made by State elected officials with the advice 
of State law enforcement leaders. These are not judgments made for the 
States by Federal legislators who think they know better and want to 
second guess the best judgments of State and local officials.
  In matters of State police power, the Congress has traditionally not 
meddled in State affairs. That is how it has always been and that is 
how it should remain. That is what the 10th Amendment provides. What 
might work in Vermont might not work in Chicago. And it is not up to me 
as a Senator from Vermont to tell the elected and law enforcement 
officials in Illinois what their public safety laws should be.
  The amendment we now consider would nullify the laws of all 50 States

[[Page S2708]]

that govern who from out of State may or may not carry a concealed 
weapon in that State. In fact, this amendment would permit a citizen of 
a rural Western State to bring his guns to the District of Columbia or 
Boston or other urban cities and override their public safety 
determinations. This is not a well-considered approach, and it is an 
immense imposition on law enforcement officials in a host State who 
will be commandeered by the Federal Government to police the concealed 
carry laws of 49 other States. I voted against an early version of the 
Brady bill because it imposed unconstitutional burdens on State and 
local law enforcement. The Supreme Court agreed with my view and ruled 
that unconstitutional.
  In addition, this amendment would force a jurisdiction that is 
located within a State that may issue concealed carry permits but which 
does not allow citizens to carry concealed firearms in that political 
jurisdiction to favor out-of-state residents by requiring that they be 
allowed to carry a gun even though the instate resident is prohibited 
from doing so. This amendment should offend everyone's sense of State 
sovereignty and self-government.
  This amendment is not about correcting some existing restriction of 
the Second Amendment right. That right is secure. Nor can it be about 
acting where the States have refused to act. The States are doing an 
exceptional job of entering reciprocity agreements with each other, 
based upon discussions and agreements between State officials and 
without meddling by the Federal Government. Thirty-seven States have 
reciprocity agreements with at least one other State; some have 
agreements with many other States. This amendment would unnecessarily 
trample on the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. It places an 
ideology over the rights reserved to the sovereign States.
  I would hope that those who claim to believe in the principles of 
federalism would recognize the dangers associated with legislating a 
one-size-fits-all approach in matters of public safety and local 
concern. And what of the practical concerns, which Philadelphia Police 
Chief Charles Ramsey laid out in testimony in the House Judiciary 
Committee in September of 2011?
  The Federal preemption of State laws represents a serious 
encroachment on State sovereignty. It is a subject we have examined 
thoroughly in the Judiciary Committee during the years of the previous 
administration and in relation to efforts then to strip the citizens of 
Vermont and other States of their rights to seek justice in the courts.
  In a case called Wyeth v. Levine, the Supreme Court rejected efforts 
by a pharmaceutical company to shield itself from accountability under 
State law with Federal bureaucratic regulations when it grievously 
harmed a Vermonter. The Federal preemption of State laws is a very 
serious matter and one that the Congress should not consider lightly.
  Yet, despite the fact that the Judiciary Committee held three 
hearings and four executive business meetings to debate and consider 
legislative proposals, not once did the measure we now debate come up 
for discussion. Now, without having any regular order, the proponents 
demand that this amendment be made law.
  This amendment, which would federalize the concealed carry laws of 
every State, is a slippery slope. If we vote to enact such precedent, 
then a future Congress with different views for a different era would 
have firm ground to preempt the laws of all 50 States to restrict or 
condition the ability of citizens to carry a concealed firearm.
  We, as Senators, ought to be very careful about the path we are asked 
to take with this amendment.
  This is not a measured approach. It is blanket preemption. It is not 
like the measured approach I took with the Law Enforcement Officers 
Safety Act, which permits highly qualified active and retired law 
enforcement officials to carry firearms across State lines. In that 
law, we have rigorous requirements. We have law enforcement officials 
who have training, who are sworn to uphold the law, and who have 
dedicated their careers to protecting the public. That is a measured 
approach, and it is far different from the amendment we debate now.
  Many in this Chamber talk reverently about the importance of State 
sovereignty and the 10th Amendment. Many in this Chamber decry the 
presence of ``big government'' in the lives of Americans. Well, nothing 
reeks of big government like trampling the judgment of 50 State 
legislatures that are in a far better position than we are to set local 
public safety policy.
  This amendment comes at the behest of special interests. As I have 
said repeatedly, we should not be taking orders from special interests. 
We are the Senators elected to represent the best interests of 314 
million Americans.
  I urge Senators to have the courage to oppose this amendment. It is 
unwise and unnecessary. For those who appreciate the ability of 
citizens to carry concealed firearms, opposing this amendment will help 
preserve those abilities.
  Let's respect the virtues of federalism and let the States act in 
their own best judgment about who may or may not carry a concealed 
firearm in their State. Let's be cautious in our approach in matters of 
State police power and respect the values enshrined in the 10th 
Amendment to the Constitution.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I wish to oppose amendment No. 719.
  Amendment No. 719 would create a public safety crisis by forcing 
nearly every State to recognize the concealed carry permits issued by 
other States, even if the permit holder could not qualify for a permit 
in the State to which he is traveling.
  Imagine this: A man convicted of a domestic violence crime against 
his former girlfriend obtains a concealed carry permit from his State. 
Under amendment 719, he could travel across State lines and confront 
his ex-girlfriend, even if she lives in California, where his 
conviction would have prevented him from obtaining a concealed carry 
  In other words, States with the weakest conceal carry permitting 
standards will set the national standard regardless of existing State 
  States vary widely on how to regulate concealed weapons. For example, 
California prohibits possession by individuals convicted of violent 
misdemeanors; requires completion of a firearm safety training course; 
gives law enforcement broad discretion to approve or deny a concealed 
carry permit application; and requires applicants to show that they 
have ``good moral character'' and ``good cause'' to carry a concealed 
  On the other hand, Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that at least 28 
States grant concealed carry permits to individuals convicted of 
stalking; at least 7 States grant those permits to people convicted of 
misdemeanor assault and battery; at least 12 States grant permits to 
individuals with no firearms safety training; and at least 9 States 
grant concealed carry permits to teenagers.
  Ignoring these differences, amendment No. 719 would allow 
nonresidents who cannot meet a State's permit standards to carry a 
concealed weapon into the State.
  This amendment would also endanger law enforcement officers. 
According to the California Police Chiefs Association, there is 
currently no national data system that records legitimate concealed 
carry permits, so it is impossible for an officer on the street to 
determine whether a permit is valid during traffic stops or other high-
risk situations.
  The vast majority of States have either rejected reciprocity or 
limited it to States with equivalent or higher standards. In fact, 
several States--such as New Mexico, Nevada, Arkansas, and Wyoming--have 
rescinded reciprocity with other States that no longer meet the State's 
minimum standards.
  Major national law enforcement organizations--including the 
International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities 
Chiefs Association--as well as the National Network to End Domestic 
Violence, the American Bar Association, and Faiths United, are also 
joining with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to oppose amendment No. 719.
  Congress should not support a law that undermines State law 
protections, puts our police officers in greater danger, and allows 
unfit and dangerous individuals to carry concealed weapons in another 

[[Page S2709]]

  I urge my colleagues to join with me in rejecting amendment No. 719.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Amendment No. 715

  Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, I rise to discuss the background check 
amendment proposed by our colleagues Senator Manchin and Senator 
  I grew up in northern Maine where responsible gun ownership is part 
of the heritage of virtually every family. In fact, I cannot think of a 
family in my hometown of Caribou that did not have firearms in their 
homes when I was growing up, and that includes my own family. I 
strongly support our Second Amendment rights, and two recent Supreme 
Court decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. 
Chicago make clear that those constitutional rights pertain to the 
  As we have studied this important issue during the past several 
months, I have met with countless people who hold a wide range of 
views. They include the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, known as SAM, 
Maine law enforcement officials, the NRA, victims of gun violence, 
licensed gun dealers, firearms manufacturers, mental health 
professionals, and school superintendents, among many others. These 
discussions have been so helpful to me as I seek to better understand 
the issues which confront us as we shape this bill.
  We have discussed issues, including the inadequacy of mental health 
services, gaps in the reporting of data to the National Instant 
Background Check System, school safety, excessive violence in video 
games and movies, the lack of effective laws for gun trafficking, and 
straw purchases aimed at getting guns in the hands of criminals. Those 
are just some of the many issues I have had the benefit of discussing 
with my constituents.
  As a result of these extensive discussions, I have decided to support 
the bipartisan compromise authored by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat 
Toomey. Their bipartisan effort would strengthen the background check 
system without in any way infringing on our Second Amendment rights. I 
would note their proposal represents a vast improvement over the 
provisions currently in the bill.
  There were particular provisions of the legislation which was drafted 
by Senator Schumer that I oppose, such as the background check 
provisions which are in the bill. For example, if a father gives a gun 
as a gift to his son or daughter or a brother sells his hunting rifle 
to his brother, the provisions of the legislation would require that 
those individuals undergo background checks. I found that to be 
completely unnecessary and onerous.
  In addition, the bill that is on the floor now has burdensome 
paperwork requirements that are unnecessary and that many believe are 
unworkable as well.
  By contrast, the Manchin-Toomey compromise takes a much more 
commonsense approach by requiring background checks only for commercial 
transactions. Their approach clearly exempts family gifts and transfers 
and truly private sales. Their amendment protects private sellers from 
lawsuits if the weapon is cleared through the expanded background check 
and is subsequently used in a crime. That is the same kind of 
protection that licensed gun dealers receive now.
  The compromise also authorizes the use of a State concealed carry 
permit instead of a background check when purchasing a firearm from a 
dealer, recognizing the rigorous background checks and approval process 
these concealed carry permits require. Their amendment also improves 
interstate travel laws for sportsmen and sportswomen who transport 
their firearms across State lines in a responsible way.
  The term ``transport'' includes staying in temporary lodging 
overnight, stopping for food, buying fuel, vehicle maintenance, and 
medical treatment, which will improve the quality and completeness of 
the data in the NICS. Their amendment would also mandate improvements 
that would require States and the Federal Government to send relevant 
records on criminals and people who are dangerously mentally ill 
through State plans that are developed in conjunction with the 
Department of Justice, which is another important improvement made by 
the Manchin-Toomey amendment since we know there are gaps in the 
reporting that make the background instant check system less effective 
than it should be.
  The bill also fixes an unjust situation, where veterans have been 
inappropriately reported to the database without due process. The 
amendment requires a veteran to receive extra due process prior to 
losing his or her right to buy a gun, and that is only fair. 
Specifically, it requires that the VA either establish or designate a 
board for the purpose of hearing appeals by veterans who are considered 
adjudicated as mentally ill and the veteran can appeal directly to this 
board or an outside court of jurisdiction.
  It was critical to my support of the Manchin-Toomey amendment that it 
explicitly bans the Federal Government from creating a national 
firearms registry. I am completely and unalterably opposed to creating 
a national registry of gun owners that would be maintained in 
Washington by the Federal Government. The bill imposes serious criminal 
penalties on any individual who misuses or illegally retains firearms 
  I am also pleased that the Manchin-Toomey proposal would create a 
national commission on mass violence. This is a proposal I have long 
advocated and is very much needed. It would convene experts to study 
all aspects of these horrible attacks and mass murders that have 
plagued our country, caused so much anguish to the families left 
behind, and have caused unbearable anguish for the survivors as well.
  Obviously, this debate is just beginning on the Senate floor, and the 
Manchin-Toomey amendment is just one of many that will be considered. I 
will support some amendments, others I will strongly oppose. It is 
impossible to predict, at this early point before we have cast a single 
vote on the many amendments that have been filed to this bill, what the 
bill will look like in the final analysis and whether I shall be able 
to support it. I do believe the Manchin-Toomey background check 
amendment is a reasonable, commonsense, thoughtful proposal that I can 
and will support.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.

                           Amendment No. 717

  Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to call up my 
amendment No. 717.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Wyoming [Mr. Barrasso] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 717.

  Mr. BARRASSO. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the 
amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To withhold 5 percent of Community Oriented Policing Services 
program Federal funding from States and local governments that release 
 sensitive and confidential information on law-abiding gun owners and 
                     victims of domestic violence)

       At the appropriate place, insert the following:

                   GUN OWNERS.

       Section 1701 of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and 
     Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796dd) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(l) Protecting the Privacy of Law-abiding Gun Owners.--
       ``(1) Definition.--In this subsection, the term `private 
     gun ownership data' means information held by a State or unit 
     of local government that concerns--
       ``(A) a license or permit of an individual to purchase, 
     possess, or carry a firearm;
       ``(B) a license or permit of an individual relating to 
     ammunition; or
       ``(C) the location of an individual gun owner.
       ``(2) Withholding funds for noncompliance.--
       ``(A) In general.--Subject to subparagraph (B), and 
     notwithstanding any other provision of this part, if a State 
     or unit of local government receiving a grant under this part

[[Page S2710]]

     publicly releases private gun ownership data during any 
     fiscal year, the Attorney General shall withhold 5 percent of 
     the amount that would otherwise be provided to the State or 
     unit of local government under this part for that fiscal 
       ``(B) Exception.--Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to any 
     release of private gun ownership data that is necessary in 
     the course of--
       ``(i) a bonafide criminal investigation; or
       ``(ii) a trial, hearing, or other proceeding of any court, 
     board, commission, or agency.
       ``(3) Redistribution of withheld funds.--On the first day 
     of the first fiscal year after a fiscal year in which amounts 
     were withheld from a State or unit of local government under 
     paragraph (2), such amounts shall be made available to States 
     and units of local government that do not publicly release 
     private gun ownership data.''.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I rise today to speak about this 
amendment which to me is very simple and very straightforward. This 
amendment is designed to protect the privacy and the safety of law-
abiding gun owners.
  If a State or local government releases private information on gun 
owners--which we know has happened--then that State or local government 
will lose part of its funding that comes from the Federal Government. 
This includes private information on individuals who have licenses to 
purchase, possess, or carry firearms.
  Again and again we have seen the irresponsible release of gun 
ownership information. Most recently, a newspaper published an 
interactive map of data received by government officials of gun owners 
in various parts of New York. One may wonder how the publication got 
such a list. They obtained this sensitive list from county officials. 
The map included the names and addresses of individuals who have 
firearm permits in the counties involved.
  These individuals--law-abiding gun owners, retired law enforcement 
officers, victims of domestic violence--all had this information about 
their private lives released. The release of this information by county 
government did nothing to increase public safety and, in fact, I 
believe the government compromised public safety. By releasing the 
names and addresses, I believe the government put these permitholders 
and their families at risk. It also put a mark on the backs of their 
neighbors who may not have any firearms. Eventually, this newspaper 
took the map down, but the damage was already done.
  In January of this year, a criminal attempted to burglarize a home in 
White Plains, NY. The homeowner was in his seventies and his gun 
information was released on the Internet. Thankfully, the robber did 
not successfully steal the firearms. Less than a week later--also 
earlier this year, in January--another home in New City, NY, that was 
disclosed on the Internet was robbed. This time, the robber 
successfully stole two handguns and two firearm permits--legally 
obtained firearm permits now stolen.
  The timing of the disclosure and the robberies clearly appears to be 
more than just a coincidence. These criminals had the names, addresses, 
and a map. That is all they needed. And where did they get it? Because 
of the release of the information by the government.
  This, to me, was an irresponsible disclosure.
  It goes beyond that. They have also released information that put a 
victim of domestic violence at risk. According to a New York State 
Senator, the county officials also disclosed the name and the location 
of a victim of domestic violence who had a legal gun permit.
  Throughout my medical career I have treated victims of domestic 
violence. I have seen firsthand the importance of not disclosing the 
location of victims of domestic violence. Often they move among a 
network of safe houses. They start a new life in a new city. This 
individual was so threatened that she contacted her State Senator, for 
one. While I don't know the specifics of her case, I do know there was 
someone in her life who posed a threat that warranted a gun permit. 
Victims of domestic violence should never have their location disclosed 
by State or county officials--not under any circumstances I can think 
of. This, to me, is a perfect example of the unintended consequences of 
a government releasing sensitive information.
  As we can see from these examples, there are many unintended 
consequences that put the public at risk. The county officials were 
responsible, in my opinion, and they certainly did not increase public 
safety. I believe they harmed it.
  So now we have two handguns that were stolen in the hands of 
criminals because of the fact that the list was released and then made 
public in a broader way. We now have a victim of domestic violence 
whose identity and location have been disclosed. This release of 
private gun ownership information not only puts the lives of gun owners 
and law enforcement and victims of domestic violence at risk but also 
their unarmed neighbors.
  I bring this amendment to the floor. While this information clearly 
involves gun owners, it is about privacy and our rights as individual 
citizens. It is about protecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens 
who are exercising their Second Amendment rights. So today I ask my 
colleagues to support this amendment.

                           Amendment No. 719

  I also wish to say a word about another amendment proposed earlier 
that we will be voting on later today which has to do with the 
concealed carry issue. I have a Washington Post front-page story from 
this past Saturday, April 13, and the article quotes a Member of this 
body. It is a front-page article that carries over. It says: ``Somebody 
could come from Wyoming''--well, I am a Senator from Wyoming. 
``Somebody could come from Wyoming to the big cities of New York or New 
Haven or Bridgeport and carry a concealed weapon.''
  As a surgeon, I did some of my surgical training in New Haven and 
Bridgeport. So I am a Senator from Wyoming, and it mentions places 
where I did my surgical training, and I do have a concealed carry 
permit issued by the State of Wyoming.
  I bring this to the attention of this body to say that I would, with 
this concealed carry permit, under the amendment I support, be able to 
carry concealed in Wyoming as well as if I returned to the place where 
I got some of my surgical training. What we need to have is this sort 
of reciprocity.
  In Wyoming, we don't just hand out permits such as this. There is an 
entire regimen an individual must go through to obtain a concealed 
carry permit. First, a person has to prove they are proficient in 
handling a firearm by taking a course and getting signed off by a 
certified inspector, complete an application, pay a fee, and then of 
course submit fingerprints to the FBI for an evaluation. So a person 
has to go through all of those things. I will tell my colleagues, 
criminals do not apply for concealed carry permits. Criminals issue 
their own.
  If an individual is currently prohibited by Federal law from carrying 
a firearm, they are going to continue to be prohibited under this 
amendment. This amendment allows law-abiding individuals to lawfully 
carry concealed firearms across State lines while following the laws of 
the host State. Just like a driver's license, this amendment is a 
license for self-defense across State lines in accordance with State 
  I encourage my colleagues to vote in support of my amendment as well 
as the one we just heard about from Senator Cornyn about concealed 
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up 
to 45 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, first of all, I wish to thank all of my 
colleagues because I know it has been a difficult time and there are an 
awful lot of people who have different comments on this legislation. 
They have different feelings about it. There are an awful lot of facts 
and nonfacts, truths and untruths that have been out there, and I wish 
to set a few of those things straight.
  I think the Presiding Officer knows I am a proud gun owner. I come 
from a tradition in West Virginia, the same as the Presiding Officer 
from North Dakota. I am an A-rated lifetime, card-carrying member of 
the National Rifle Association. I agree wholeheartedly with the mission 
of the NRA, which is to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-
abiding, gun-owning

[[Page S2711]]

American citizens such as the Presiding Officer and myself, to promote 
firearms and hunting safety. As a matter of fact, as Governor, I 
promoted the Eddie Eagle Program in West Virginia along with our 
friends. The NRA's mission includes promoting marksmanship and 
educating the general public about firearms.
  I carry my card with me. I have had this for quite some time. It is a 
lifetime membership. Ever since I became a member, I have read all the 
magazines, as have most of us when we get them, and I have gotten all 
the special notices about when there was something of concern. I have 
always read their material, and I have said, Oh, that is great; I am 
glad someone is saying this and speaking out.
  I was surprised when the latest alerts from the NRA were filled with 
so much misinformation about the firearms background check legislation 
that Senator Toomey and I are trying to get in front of the Senate to 
be passed. They are telling their members that our legislation would--
and I quote--I want to quote this--``criminalize the private transfer 
of firearms by honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors 
and some family members to get Federal Government permission to 
exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution.''
  Where I come from in West Virginia--I don't know how to put the words 
any plainer than this--that is a lie. That is simply a lie. Anybody who 
can read knows that is not factual. There is nothing in this bill--
there is not a universal background check. There is nothing in this 
bill that says if a person is living in a neighborhood and they want to 
sell a neighbor their gun, they can't do it. No background checks are 
required. If a person comes from a State with the gun traditions we 
have in our State, the gun culture, that person can give it to their 
son, their grandson, any of their family members, and no background 
check is needed. Why they would say the private transfer of firearms by 
honest citizens--this bill protects honest gun-loving, law-abiding 
citizens more than any piece of legislation we have had in the last two 
to three decades, and I think people who have read the bill know that.
  I remember when the NRA used to feel a lot differently about 
background checks and it wasn't all that long ago. Back in 1999, their 
executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, testified before Congress 
that background checks were reasonable. In fact, he said it over and 
over and over. Let me quote Mr. LaPierre: ``We think it's reasonable to 
provide for instant checks at gun shows just like at gun stores and 
  Because the law says if a person goes to a gun store now that is a 
licensed dealer, a person has to do the background check, and by law 
they have to keep the record, and by law they cannot use that as a 
registration. They cannot, by law. In our bill, we even make sure any 
type of information for registration cannot be used. We said if a 
person tries to do it--if a government agency or a person who works for 
the government tries to use any of these records, it is a felony with 
15 years of imprisonment. That is how much this bill protects my rights 
as a law-abiding gun owner.
  Mr. LaPierre: ``We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant 
criminal background checks for every gun sold at a gun show.'' We have 
talked about this before. The law today says that if I go to a gun show 
and there is a licensed dealer, that dealer still has to do a 
background check on me and keep the proper record. But I can go to a 
table or go outside in the parking lot and nothing is required of me--
nothing. All we are doing is taking current law and making it uniform 
so everybody plays by the same set of rules. We think it helps 
  We talked about criminals and people who have been adjudicated 
through a court of having mental illness and it has been determined 
they are incompetent. We don't think those people should be able to buy 
a gun at a gun show or online or at a gun store. We believe the law-
abiding gun owners whom I know in West Virginia--and I am sure the 
Presiding Officer knows in North Dakota--would not sell their gun, even 
though they don't have to go through a background check, to someone 
they know is mentally insane or has a criminal intent. That is not how 
we transfer or sell our guns in West Virginia.
  I will tell my colleagues this. I have talked to all my gun owners 
all over my State, and I am so proud of them. They have heard all of 
this hogwash out there and all the lies from people trying to 
misrepresent. When I talked to them, over 87 of them said, I agree with 
you; you are right. They have read the bill.
  This is tough, I understand, but all I am asking is for people to 
take the time to read it and make sure they know what is being 
  I would be OK if the NRA just said, Listen, we have tried the 
background checks and guess what. The Federal Government didn't do its 
job the way it was supposed to. They are right. The Federal Government 
did not clamp down. They did not require the States to turn in all of 
their records and impose any type of a penalty.
  Guess what. In our bill, we fix that. I have told people before, I 
have been in the legislative process for quite some time. I have been 
Governor of my State and I have been involved in so many different 
aspects of government. I have never seen a perfect bill. I really have 
not. I have never had a perfect bill that I have ever voted on that did 
not have to be worked on.
  So I would say to my friends--whether it be the NRA or any gun 
organization--if you do not like the thing you supported 10 years ago, 
then work with me and let's fix it. If you believe they did not turn 
all their records in, I have got penalties. Also we have incentives for 
the States to do their job. We will fix that.
  If you are saying there have been some of these agents who have been 
a little bit rogue, and they wanted to use these records, and you 
still, in your mind, believe they are going to take your records, we 
have said, now if they do it, it is a felony with 15 years 
  We are fixing everything you have told me. If you are saying as a 
law-abiding gun owner, I am looked upon as if something is wrong with 
me: Why would I want to own a gun? Why would I have a gun?
  There are three types of gun ownership in America. You have a 
sportsman who likes to hunt, shoot, enjoy the family outings. You have 
one who buys it for the defense of themselves and their family. And you 
have a pure constitutionalist. I do not relate to this group here: that 
I am afraid my government is going to come after me and I have to 
defend myself against the U.S. Government or the military. I am not 
fearing that, so I am not in that category. I am in these two 
categories which most Americans are: either you are a sportsman or you 
want to defend your family and yourself and your property.
  This bill protects that right more than any bill we have ever had 
before us. It will do it more than it has ever been done in the last 
two to three decades. I can stand at any crowd--and I have been going 
in front of some of the most ardent gun-support crowds--I have given 
them the bill and let them read the bill and I have taken every 
question they have asked me--every question. At the end, you might have 
one or two who say: I am sorry, I think you are overreaching. I think 
that basically I should have the right to buy, sell, do anything I want 
with a gun. This might be the same person who believes there should be 
no laws for anything, that you should not have to have a driver's 
license to drive a car, that you should not have to pay income taxes, 
that you should not have to abide by any laws we have on the books. I 
respectfully disagree, but I respect their position. That is a very 
small minority but, boy, can they talk. They are very loud, and I 
  So the only thing I am saying is, if some of the friends I have known 
forever over at the NRA--if somebody made a mistake when they put this 
information out, please correct it because, I can tell you, in 
Washington or in West Virginia or as a human being, the only thing you 
have is your word and your credibility, and make sure when you tell 
someone something, you tell them the facts and the truth.
  If that is your friend and it is someone you want to represent, 
honestly, say: Let me tell you both sides. You make your decision. I am 
going to defend you. I am an unconditional friend.

[[Page S2712]]

I am your friend no matter what, through thick or thin. Now we go on to 
the next thing, if you will, when things do not work out. I understand 
that. But I am just saying: Tell me everything. Tell me what I can 
expect of someone who might not agree with me and tell me what I can 
expect of the people who will agree with me. I can handle that.
  I will tell my friends, if you lose your credibility in Washington, 
you have lost everything. I used to get all the magazines I received, 
all the special notices they wanted me to be alerted to. I start 
questioning, if you did not represent it accurately, how could I make 
an honest decision on how I should feel? That is all.
  Madam President, I do not need to tell you. You know how 
relationships are built and how they are kept, and that is the most 
important thing here in this body. I say that with the utmost respect 
for everybody in this body. I understand some of our colleagues believe 
that supporting this piece of legislation is risky politics. I think 
there is a time in our life, a defining time in public service, a time 
when you have the ability to stand when you know the facts are on your 
side and walk into the lion's den and look that lion in the eye and 
tell that lion: Listen, not today; not today.
  Even if politics are risky, remember the words of Andrew Jackson.

       The brave man inattentive to his duty is worth little more 
     to his country than the coward who deserts in the hour of 

  I am not saying any of that. Everybody has their purpose and reason. 
This piece of legislation, the longer people read it, the more they 
study it, the more it sells itself.
  My good friend Jon Tester from Montana spoke right on this floor 2 
days ago. I said: Jon, if you want to come down and say something, 
please do. I did not know what Jon was going to say. But I did 
encourage Jon: Please read it. Well, flying to Montana and back, you 
have a little bit of time to read, and Jon used that time to read the 
bill, frontwards and backwards. He spoke about the things in the bill 
it did and the things it did not do. That is what we have been talking 
about: that 90 percent of Americans--83 percent of West Virginians--
support a criminal background check or a mental background check. They 
do not support infringing on an individual's right. If you are out in 
parts of my State--my beautiful State of West Virginia--where you know 
everybody, you know who is responsible or not, you know a family member 
you want to give a gun to. We know that. We did not infringe on that.
  But they also believe that on the Internet you might never know 
somebody and that some background check should be required. If you read 
the New York Times today, you will see an article there that is very 
alarming and alerting. It allows us to see into the world of Internet 
transfers of guns--people who are known felons, people who are making a 
living selling guns on the Internet because no one is checking 
anything. This bill would prevent that from happening.
  Old Hickory also said:

       One man with courage makes a majority.

  One person, because, Madam President, you and the other ladies in 
this body have given us so much strength. You really do. You bring 
balance. As it is said in some of the movies, you complete us. You 
complete us as a body. You really do. I appreciate so much the 
grounding and the way you ground us, and I thank you for that.

  As shown on this chart, this is an al-Qaida member too, and I want to 
speak about this. I was watching ``Morning Joe'' one morning, and they 
showed a clip. They showed a clip of this gentleman, who is an 
American, an al-Qaida terrorist who is an American. As you see there, 
if you ever click on this--this is very easy to pull up on your video--
our gun laws are so outdated and so out of whack that even this person, 
who wants to do damage and harm to every American--even this person--
has figured out how to exploit them, to arm themselves and people like 
him in our country. If you have not, you need to see this. His name is 
Adam Gadahn--Adam Gadahn is his name--telling sympathizers--telling 
sympathizers of al-Qaida--how to get their hands on guns in America 
with almost no questions asked--almost no questions. He says:

       America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable 
     firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local 
     convention center and come away with a fully automatic 
     assault rifle, without a background check and, most likely, 
     without having to show an identification card.

  And then he finishes:

       So what are you waiting for?

  ``So what are you waiting for?'' Those are his words. Well, I am not 
waiting. I am not waiting for him to get his hands on the guns. If you 
are a law-abiding American citizen, who can pass a background check, 
God bless you. I will fight to the nth degree to defend your Second 
Amendment rights. But if you are this guy, with the purpose this guy 
has for America and Americans, absolutely not. That is what we are 
asking. Our legislation shuts him down. It stops him cold in his 
  If al-Qaida's enthusiasm for gun show sales is not chilling enough, 
you have to read today's New York Times article about how easy it is 
for criminals to buy and sell guns on the Internet. Not only is it 
quick and easy, it is anonymous. You do not have any idea who you are 
dealing with. One of the people in the article describes these Internet 
sales as a ``gun show that never ends''--``a gun show that never 
ends''--and I would add: never closes because the Internet is 24/7.
  The Internet is a vast marketplace for guns. In 2000, the Department 
of Justice estimated that 80 online firearm auction sites and 
approximately 4,000 other sites offered guns for sale.
  That was more than a dozen years ago, and we all know how the 
Internet has expanded since then. The online market may now exceed gun 
shows in terms of sales volume. We all know how we are using our 
technology more and more every day for our personal lives and how we 
depend on it. For example, the National Shooting Sports Foundation 
surveyed owners of modern sporting rifles in 2010 and found that 10 
percent of them--10 percent of all rifles sold--had purchased their 
firearms at gun shows whereas 25 percent had purchased them online--25 
  Believe me, I understand the political stakes for my colleagues--and 
I sympathize; I have been there; I understand--who come from States 
such as West Virginia. And no State has a higher regard for the Second 
Amendment right to bear arms than my State. In fact, on the Great Seal 
of the State of West Virginia, the preamble is: ``Montani semper 
liberi.'' In Latin that means: ``Mountaineers Are Always Free.'' So you 
know how we feel. We are one of the few States that became a State 
during the Civil War. We broke away from Virginia at that time.
  But West Virginians are also guided by a little common sense. I have 
said this. In West Virginia we know what nonsense is, we know what 
common sense is, and now we know what gun sense is. That is all we are 
asking for.
  I am proud of all of my West Virginians. When they read our 
legislation, they understand that all we are doing is using common 
sense to protect the safety of the public, especially our kids and at 
the same time protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
  John Adams once said:

       Facts are stubborn things.

  ``Facts are stubborn things.'' It is hard. It is hard. And I am 
pretty stubborn myself, as I know, Madam President, you are, and all of 
our colleagues. If we were not, we would not be here.
  So I am going to go through our legislation again and tell you what 
is the myth out there and what is the fact about our legislation.
  Let's start with the myth that the NRA is repeating to their members. 
Let's start with that.
  Here is the myth: This legislation will require background checks 
when a gun owner sells, loans, or gives a firearm to a relative, 
neighbor, or friend. It is going to prohibit that from happening. That 
is what they are saying this legislation does.
  Here is the fact: Current law exempts such transfers from background 
checks, and our bill does nothing to change that--nothing to change 
  You can loan your hunting rifle to your buddy without any new 
restrictions or requirements or you can give or sell a gun to your 
brother or your sister, your cousin, your uncle, your coworker without 
a background check. You can post a gun for sale on the cork bulletin 
board at your workplace or on your church bulletin board without a 
background check.

[[Page S2713]]

  We are not going to do anything to turn law-abiding gun owners into 
criminals, which is what they want you to believe any legislation and 
our legislation--mine and Senator Toomey's and Senators Kirk's and 
Schumer's--would do. It does not do that.
  There is another myth: Nothing in this legislation would have 
prevented or will prevent any tragic mass shootings in the future.
  Madam President, I know you were visited by the families, as most of 
our colleagues were, from Newtown--a most difficult time. Not one of 
them ever asked us to take the guns away. Not one of those families 
ever asked us to repeal the Second Amendment. They never infringed on 
any of that. And most of them to a ``T'' said: I know this would not 
have saved my baby. I know this law today that you are working on would 
not have saved my baby. They know that. They said: Maybe we can save 
somebody else's baby. That is all.
  But let me tell you, this bill has a component called the Commission 
on Mass Violence because, as you go around and you talk to the children 
throughout the schools of your State, respectfully--I have been all 
over West Virginia--this generation has been desensitized to the 
violence that you and I grew up being scared to death of.
  They have been desensitized. They can get on a video game and see 
things we can never imagine. This Commission on Mass Violence is put 
together by people of expertise who can tell us about guns. When a 
person says: Oh, I think that gun ought to be banned, wait a minute. 
That is my hunting rifle. It might look a little different, but it does 
not shoot any different. You might not know about it, so do not ban 
that gun until you know. So this Commission basically puts the 
expertise of guns on gun people who can explain it to us and then make 
an informed decision. This piece of legislation--the Commission on Mass 
Violence--puts together people with expertise in mental illness.
  I go to grade schools, I go to the kindergartens since this happened 
at Newtown. Do you know what they tell me? They say: Senator, I can 
identify a child who has problems. I can identify a child who comes 
from a home with problems. They have mental challenges. They need help. 
I have nowhere to go. I have nowhere to send them. They have no 
insurance. They have no type of help or support.
  We can fix that. But you have to listen to the people who understand 
mental illness.
  Then, on top of that--this is a sad scenario because if we would have 
had the Commission on Mass Violence, and that Commission would have 
come back, and part of that Commission says, on school safety--as a 
Governor, and I know as an official in the Presiding Officer's State, 
we built a lot of schools, we modeled a lot of schools. Not one time 
did an architect ever come to me and say: Governor, we have to put 
bulletproof glass on all first floors of our schools. Bulletproof 
  Now, think about this. Adam Lanza shot out the front door and stuck 
his arm through and opened the door to get into that school. It was 
locked down. Most of the schools now have looks on them. Most of the 
classrooms have locks. If you can shoot the glass out and stick your 
arm into the door, what good is it?
  We would have never thought about that. If we could have done that, 
maybe, just maybe, we could have prevented this horrible tragedy. I do 
not know. But the families are not asking us to look back, they are 
just asking to look forward. They are saying there could be another 
child, that there could be another massacre; can we stop it?
  I do not say this bill is a panacea. But if I can stop one crazy 
person, if I can stop one criminal who has nothing but hatred and harm 
to inflict on other people, if I can do that, I have done my job, I 
think I have, and I can go home.
  As one of the Newtown parents, Francine Wheeler, said: Please help us 
do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy. This is so 
compelling. It really is. Our bill will ensure that the States get 
their records up to speed. The NRA was correct. They said: Hey, you 
have not done your job. I agree with them. We did not. But we are going 
  I have often said: You can either throw the baby out with the 
bathwater or you can change the water. I intend to make a change. That 
is all I am asking.
  Our bill is going to prevent felons--it is going to prevent this guy 
and people like this guy from just going to the gun shows like a 
supermarket and getting whatever they want to get to do harm to us. It 
will not stop them all. If we can slow them down, we might have saved 
an American's life.
  A national registry. I have talked about this so many times. That 
cannot happen. Section 122 of this bill:

       Prohibition of a National Gun Registry. Section 923 of 
     Title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding from our 
     bill: The Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize 
     the records of the acquisition or disposition of firearms, or 
     any portion thereof, maintained by a person with a valid 
     current license under this chapter; an unlicensed transferor 
     under this section; possession of ownership of firearm, 
     maintained by any medical or health insurance entity.

  It goes on and on.
  All I have asked for is for everyone to please read the bill. I do 
not know what the outcome will be. I know we are close. I know it is a 
tough decision. I know that. I feel good. I believe I am here for this 
purpose. I believe that and I am willing to walk anywhere that would 
allow me to speak the facts.
  As I said, I have never seen a perfect bill. I am sure we can even 
improve on this legislation. But I will say, everybody was asked for 
input. No matter what side of the fence people were on on the gun 
issue, they were asked for input. Whether it came from an organization 
representing millions of people, I wanted their input. Whether it came 
from a person who wanted to ban everything, I wanted their input. Then 
they were able to come together and say: If I am a law-abiding citizen, 
then let me exercise my rights as a law-abiding citizen.
  The Second Amendment is very cherished by us and very sacred in West 
Virginia as it is in North Dakota and everywhere else. We made sure the 
culture we grew up with was protected and enhanced. We made sure of 
  I can go to any group in America and show them. When they see the 
facts, they will agree. I have been there. I know it happens.
  So I finally will say: If you are a law-abiding citizen, and you are 
a law-abiding gun owner, you want to be treated and looked upon as a 
respected law-abiding citizen and gun owner, this bill does it for you. 
If you believe we should be able to treat our veterans better than we 
have because veterans today, if they are just evaluated by a VA court, 
if you will, and determined that--that is just not right. They can be 
put on the NICS list immediately. We have a 30-day period that every 
veteran coming out who might have some challenges--and God only knows, 
those men and women have sacrificed so much, what it has done to their 
lives. We owe them everything. We owe them the right to be able to live 
as a law-abiding citizen and to get back into the mainstream of America 
without having to fight for rights.
  This bill does that for veterans. This bill does that. We notify 
150,000 veterans--we notify 150,000 veterans who might be on the NICS 
and do not even know they are on it and give them that 30-day repeal 
period. We do that in this bill.
  So if you want to really honor a veteran, if you want to thank them 
for their services and make sure they are treated with the utmost 
respect, this bill does that. If you are a criminal, if you have been 
deemed to be mentally incompetent through a court, you are probably not 
going to like the bill. I am the first to tell you that. I am sorry. 
You are not going to like it. I am not going to make any excuses. I do 
not think you want guns for the right reasons anyway. So I hope I can 
keep them from you. That is what I would say. I hope I can keep them 
from you.

  I hope you cannot go down with an al-Qaida person over here who is an 
American terrorist, go with him and buy a gun. I hope you cannot do it 
at a gun show. I hope you cannot get on the Internet, where they do not 
know who you are and what you look like or what your intentions are, 
and buy a gun.
  I would like to maybe find out if I can stop you. So I plead guilty 
to that. If that is what it is, I would. But I am proud of the work we 
have done. I am proud of all of the Senators. I know all Senators have 
to make a decision. I respect that.

[[Page S2714]]

  I do not think ever in our lives has a bill come together with so 
many pieces of it and so much involvement and input, that took into 
consideration law-abiding gun owners like myself and the Presiding 
Officer and so many of us in this body, and respected that and enforced 
it; and also the respect of our veterans; we fixed that; also that the 
government hasn't done its job but could do a better job, and may could 
do it; and the ability to keep a person who should not have a gun 
strictly at a commercial transaction.
  I do not know of any bill that we have had before or that we might 
have again that will do it all.
  With that, I would say that it has been a pleasure to work with all 
of my Senators. They have worked hard. I know it is not going to go 
away. Whatever happens today will happen. I believe we have done a good 
job. I just ask my colleagues to consider this before we vote sometime 
this afternoon and make sure they feel good and comfortable and can go 
home and defend their position. That is all. Everybody has to do that. 
We have to respect that. I do.
  I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). Without objection, it is so 
  Mrs. GILLIBRAND. I rise to urge my colleagues on both sides of the 
aisle to join a strong bipartisan coalition which is taking real action 
to end senseless, deadly gun violence. This includes truly commonsense 
reforms which have nothing to do with infringing on our Second 
Amendment rights and the Second Amendment rights of our law-abiding 
  We have seen the Newtown parents here in Washington bravely telling 
their stories. They deserve better than this body turning their backs 
on them. The families of Aurora deserve better than this body turning 
their backs on them. The families of the more than 30 people who die 
every single day at the hands of gun violence deserve more from this 
  My friends, it is simply time to act. Today is the day for this body 
to show the American people their voices matter. When 90 percent of 
Americans demand us to expand background checks, we can deliver.
  We should be able to agree we no longer need military-style weapons 
and ammunition clips on our streets. We should be able to agree it is 
time to crack down on the illegal handguns being trafficked on our 
streets into the hands of criminals.
  Four years ago I met the parents of Nyasia Pryear-Yard. Nyasia was a 
beautiful 17-year-old honor student killed in the prime of her life by 
an illegal handgun when she was just spending time with her friends.
  I vowed to Nyasia's parents and classmates I would stop the flow of 
illegal guns which make their way onto our streets and into the hands 
of criminals by finally making gun trafficking a Federal crime and 
holding offenders accountable with stiff penalties. We have the 
opportunity today to give law enforcement the tools and resources they 
need and have long asked for. This is not a Republican or a Democratic 
idea. It is a smart idea and the action Nyasia's parents deserve from 
  According to the New York City mayor's office, 85 percent of the guns 
used in crimes come from out of State. At least 90 percent of those 
guns are illegal. They are illegally trafficked into our cities and 
State. Of all the laws we have on the books today, effectively none are 
directly focused on preventing someone from driving from one State to 
another with stricter gun laws, parking their car in a parking lot, and 
selling hundreds of firearms directly into the hands of criminals. It 
is shocking to me as a mother and as a lawmaker.
  Instead, prosecutors primarily rely on laws which prohibit making 
false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm. These 
are paperwork violations with penalties too low to be effective law 
enforcement tools.
  Over the past 3 fiscal years, more than 330,000 guns used in violent 
crimes show telltale signs of black market trafficking, 420,000 
firearms were stolen, and thousands of guns with obliterated serial 
numbers were recovered by law enforcement. While law enforcement is 
working overtime to track down illegal guns and apprehend those who 
traffic these weapons, current law restricts their ability to 
investigate and prosecute these crimes.
  We can all agree this simply makes no sense and leaves all our 
communities vulnerable. All across this country in small towns and big 
cities, families are saying enough is enough. It is time to get serious 
and do something to prevent the next tragedy.
  Now we are able to do so. Our bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in 
Firearms Act would empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute 
illegal gun traffickers, straw purchasers, and their entire criminal 
networks. This bill is not everything I wanted when I set out on this 
mission in 2009, but it is a good bipartisan compromise. It is a 
compromise I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support. 
If you do, we can stop the illegal flow of guns which are coming into 
our city neighborhoods, reduce gun violence, and reduce senseless gun 
  Law enforcement officials across the country need this legislation to 
protect our communities from illegal weapons. If you are a responsible, 
law-abiding gun owner watching this, you should support this 
legislation too. My friends who are Second Amendment supporters, gun 
owners, and hunters support this commonsense legislation.
  I am urging all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us. 
Stand with families in our communities all across the country who are 
looking to us to take action. It is time to prevent the next senseless 
tragedy, prevent the next death, and the next Nyasia Pryear-Yard.
  I urge you to stand with the brave men and women of our law 
enforcement at every level who are asking us to take these critical 
commonsense measures needed so they can do a better job for us and keep 
our families safer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, as we close this debate on this 
historic bill, I urge my colleagues to again heed and hear the families 
of Newtown. They are here talking about not only the horror and 
unspeakable and unimaginable tragedy that befell them on December 14, 
just 4 months ago, but to speak also for the 3,400 or more who have 
perished since as a result of gun violence, the thousands more who will 
die needlessly if we fail to take action, and the many others who have 
died tragically as a result of gun violence.
  Newtown shook America. It shocked and changed our country. We owe it 
to the families and we owe it to ourselves to heed and hear their 
message. We need to do something about the guns. That is what they told 
me again and again in Newtown and Connecticut and across the country. 
And those families have come here, mustering their courage and 
strength, showing us what is great about America--the grit and 
greatness of our Nation.
  Somewhere in that time period, there were many bracelets, and I was 
handed one I have worn since. It says, ``We choose love.'' ``We are 
Newtown. We choose love.'' And that is what we should do today.
  Those 20 beautiful children and 6 great educators whose pictures have 
been before us day after day, whose images have been before America 
week after week during these 4 months, for them, we are all Newtown. 
Let's choose love.
  They are not the first to have perished in a mass killing. Well known 
to America, the names are now engraved in our memories, so that we 
merely need to say them to evoke the grief and tears--Aurora, Tucson, 
Virginia Tech. All of those names and others are likely not to be the 
last, and nothing we are doing here will end entirely the plague of gun 
violence. We will not solve the whole problem because there is no 
single solution or even necessarily a set of solutions we are debating 
today that will end all the tragic bloodshed. But we can save lives. We 
can make a start. We can literally stop a major part of it with 
commonsense measures that evoke common ground.

[[Page S2715]]

  With a background check system, we can stop criminals, felons, the 
dangerously mentally ill, domestic abusers, and others who should not 
have guns from buying firearms and using them as weapons of war.
  With a ban on illegal trafficking, we can stop felons and other 
criminals from trading and transporting guns across State lines, making 
a mockery of strong State laws, such as Connecticut's, which protect 
its people, and stop them from making straw purchases.
  With measures on school safety, we can secure those educational 
institutions that have proven vulnerable again and again. The Campus 
Safety Enhancements Act will help us do that, and we can make our 
children less vulnerable.
  With an assault weapons ban, we can begin to reduce and eventually 
end the flow of these military-style assault weapons designed to kill 
and maim human beings.
  With a ban on high-capacity magazines, which I will offer through 
amendment No. 714, we can make killers less lethal, stop them from 
killing their victims as rapidly and numerously. We can gain time in 
those situations of mass killings where a few seconds can actually save 
  With these measures and others that will be offered here today on 
mental health, for example, we can choose love. We can choose to make 
something positive of that unspeakable and horrific tragedy which 
befell Newtown and which has befallen many others before and since. We 
can do something. We can take action.
  On the universal background check, which my colleague Senator Manchin 
spoke about a short time ago and which he has authored with Senator 
Toomey, we can choose a bipartisan commonsense measure. It is not 
everything I would hope would be in a background check measure, but it 
is a genuinely important improvement on current law.
  We know background checks have worked on the 60 percent of sales 
where they have been applied because they have stopped about 2 million 
felons and other dangerous people who are prohibited by law from buying 
weapons from actually going into stores and purchasing them.
  I understand the argument that we need more prosecutions and that 
existing laws need to be enforced more vigorously. As a prosecutor, I 
am very sympathetic toward that argument, and I will support zealously 
more resources and even better management to result in more 
prosecutions. We need to enforce existing laws more effectively, but 
that goal should not stop us from improving those laws, especially when 
law enforcement itself--our police and prosecutors at every level: 
State, Federal, and local--urges us to improve those laws to enable 
them to prosecute more of the dangerous people who use guns for evil 
  We ought to listen to those law enforcement officers, as I did for 
decades as a U.S. attorney and the State attorney general for 20 years. 
I am listening to them now when they say to me that we need a universal 
background check system, we need to make our laws more effective 
against assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as on 
school security and illegal trafficking.
  Ninety percent of the public, 90 percent of everyone in this Nation 
supports this commonsense measure and 74 percent of the members of the 
NRA. This issue is not about the NRA or any special interests--although 
they have maintained a stranglehold over this type of legislation for 
over a decade, maybe a generation--it is about a bipartisan compromise 
forged out of a clear need for rational, sensible action that we now 
have an obligation to adopt.
  Nobody wants to take away guns. Nobody wants to take away rights. The 
Second Amendment guarantees the right to possess firearms. But some 
firearms should not be possessed, and some people should not possess 
any firearms. That is what brings us to this point, this historic point 
in a debate that should evoke bipartisan support, and I hope Members on 
the other side of the aisle who are still in doubt will come to support 
this measure. We need only a few votes. We have the vast majority of 
  I salute Senators McCain, Kirk, Collins, and others on both sides of 
the aisle who have made difficult decisions. But if this decision has 
seemed difficult to them and to many others, think of how difficult it 
has been for the Newtown families to come here and share their grief 
and pain with us, and they support the ban on high-capacity magazines 
because they know from their experience how lethal high-capacity 
magazines make any firearm--even more lethal than they would be 
  I salute my colleague Frank Lautenberg, who has been a champion of 
this cause for some time, as well as Senator Feinstein, who included a 
high-capacity magazine measure in her bill--it is in her amendment 
now--and my colleague Senator Murphy, who has been a partner in this 
effort. He and I have listened to the families of Newtown when they 
have told us why they support a ban on high-capacity magazines, which 
is supported by 65 percent of all Americans and 55 percent of gun 
owners. It is supported by groups across the board, from law 
enforcement to health care, gun safety, education, child welfare, and 
religious groups.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record a list of those groups supporting a ban on high-capacity 
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

       Groups That Have Endorsed This High Capacity Magazine Ban

       The groups that have endorsed the high capacity ammunition 
     magazine ban we are debating today include:

                            law enforcement

       International Association of Campus Law Enforcement 
       International Association of Chiefs of Police
       Major Cities Chiefs Association
       National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives
       National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun 
       National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
       Police Executive Research Forum
       Police Foundation
       Women in Federal Law Enforcement

                              health care

       American Academy of Nursing
       American Academy of Pediatrics
       American College of Surgeons
       American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
       American Medical Association
       American Public Health Association
       Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
       Doctors for America
       National Association of School Nurses
       National Physicians Alliance
       Physicians for Social Responsibility

                      education and child welfare

       American Federation of Teachers
       Child Welfare League of America
       Children's Defense Fund
       National Association of Social Workers
       National PTA
       National Education Association
       Save the Children

                               gun safety

       Arizonans for Gun Safety
       Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
       Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
       Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
       Mayors Against Illegal Guns
       Newtown Action Alliance
       Sandy Hook Promise


       African Methodist Episcopal Church
       Alliance of Baptists
       American Friends Service Committee
       Catholic Charities USA
       Catholics United
       Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence
       Jewish Council for Public Affairs
       National Council of Churches
       National Episcopal Health Ministries
       Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
       United Methodist Church

                          other organizations

       American Bar Association
       Grandmothers for Peace International
       Sierra Club


       U.S. Conference of Mayors
       National League of Cities

  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Madam President, we have listened to the families of 
Newtown talk about high-capacity magazines.
  Bill Sherlach, for example, who was the husband of Mary Sherlach--we 
have seen her picture here--had this to say about high-capacity 

       It's just simple arithmetic. If you have to change 
     magazines 15 times instead of five times, you have three 
     times as many incidents as where something could jam. 
     Something could be bobbled. You just increase the

[[Page S2716]]

     time for intervention. You increase the timeframe where kids 
     can get out. And there's 11 kids out there today that are 
     still running around on the playground pretty much now at 

  And those 11 kids he talks about are alive because the shooter needed 
to change magazines.
  Another Sandy Hook family member, Nicole Hockley, the mother of Dylan 
Hockley, said the following:

       We looked at the search warrants . . . and know that [the 
     shooter] left the smaller capacity magazines at home, that 
     was a choice the shooter made. He knew that the larger 
     capacity magazine clips were more lethal.

  David Wheeler, the father of Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, said the 

       The more bullets you can get out the end of that gun in the 
     least amount of time, that is the single area that I believe 
     affects lethality. And the size of the magazine placed in 
     that weapon is a direct contributor to that--a direct 
     contributor to that factor. There is a place for 30-round 
     magazines, in the military, on the battlefield.

  The families of Newtown have spoken clearly and powerfully, but the 
facts of other shootings support the ban on high-capacity magazines 
again and again. In Tucson, AZ, for example, Jared Loughner emptied a 
33-round magazine in 19 seconds, killing 6 and injuring 13 before 
stopping to replace his magazine. When he went to reload, a bystander 
tackled him. Others joined in, subduing and disarming him. Loughner was 
stopped because he had to pause to reload. His 13th round killed 9-
year-old Christina-Taylor Green. If Loughner had been limited to a 
magazine with 10 rounds, that little girl very likely would still be 
alive today. If Lanza had been limited to a 10-round magazine, 
beautiful girls and boys might well be alive today.
  Newtown and Tucson are only two instances in which a shooter was 
stopped when he had to reload or when his firearm ran out of 
  In Queens, NY, in 1993, Colin Ferguson boarded the Long Island 
Railroad with a 9mm pistol with a 15-round magazine. He opened fire, 
killing 6 and injuring 19 others in 3 minutes. When he went to load 
another magazine, he was tackled and disarmed.
  In Chapel Hill, NC, in 1995, Wendell Williamson walked the streets of 
Chapel Hill with an M-1 rifle. He opened fire, killing two. When he 
paused to reload, a bartender tackled him and disarmed him.
  In Springfield, OR, in 1998, Kip Kinkel went to his high school with 
several firearms and 1,127 rounds of ammunition. He opened fire, 
shooting 50 rounds, killing 2 students and injuring 24 more.
  As his firearm ran out of ammunition and he began to reload, several 
students tackled him and restrained him until the police arrived.
  There are many others. In fact, half of the mass killings since 1982 
involved high-capacity magazines. Half of all those mass slaughters 
were enabled by high-capacity magazines.
  Facts are stubborn things, as Ronald Reagan used to say. Everyone is 
entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts, as Daniel 
Moynihan reminded this Chamber many times.
  The most tragic stories for me involve law enforcement officers 
killed in the line of duty. In Connecticut they include Officer Robert 
Fumiatti of the New Haven Police Department; Master Police Officer 
Peter J. Lavery of the Newington Police Department; Patrolman Brian A. 
Aselton of the East Hartford Police Department; Officer James V. 
Spignesi, Jr. of the Connecticut Department of Environmental 
Protection; Officer Walter T. Williams, III of the Waterbury Police 
Department; Officer Daniel Scott Wasson of the Milford Police 
Department; Patrolman Kenneth Bateman, Jr., of the Darien Police 
Department; Patrolman Gerald T. DiJoseph of the Bridgeport Police 
Department; and the first, whom I came to know, at least through his 
family--although I never knew him personally Trooper Russell Bagshaw. I 
have known many of these families and had the privilege of coming to 
know their children in many instances as well. I want to talk about 
Russell Bagshaw in closing for just a moment.
  Russell Bagshaw of the Connecticut State Police was in his patrol 
car, driving the streets of northeastern Connecticut in North Windham 
on a summer night in 1991. He was 28 years old and a 4\1/2\-year 
veteran of the Connecticut State Police.
  Each of these men I have mentioned died as a result of gunfire from 
criminals. Some of these shooters got a stolen weapon, perhaps 
illegally trafficked. None of them should have had access to any 
firearm. Russell Bagshaw surprised two robbers coming out of a local 
sporting goods store. One of the robbers shot him with a semiautomatic 
9mm pistol that had a second handgrip under the barrel, and a 30-round 
magazine filled with hollow point bullets.
  Before Trooper Bagshaw had even a chance to use his radio or exit his 
vehicle, the shooter unloaded 17 hollow point bullets at the cruiser 
that took 6.6 seconds from that 30-round, high-capacity clip. The 
shooter fired haphazardly, but he had enough to pierce the bulletproof 
vest Bagshaw was wearing above the left armhole and to kill him 
  I attended his funeral, with lines and lines of his fellow troopers 
and others from all around the country. I had the privilege of meeting 
these families--and most especially his family--brave and strong, just 
as the Newtown families are.
  Neither Russell Bagshaw's training nor any of the other preparations 
could stop or protect from this carnage. In fact, the troopers I met 
after the horrific tragedy of December 14 in Newtown and Sandy Hook 
told me that their bulletproof armor could not have defended them 
against the assault weapons with the number of rounds that Adam Lanza 
had at that time.
  There is no preparation, no bulletproof vest, no armor that can 
protect against these kinds of weapons shot at the range that many of 
them are. That is why we should listen to law enforcement--listen to 
the police and public officials and prosecutors who have told me since 
I began working on this cause in the early 1990s, when we passed the 
first assault weapon ban in Connecticut and I defended it in court, 
tried the case, and then went to State supreme court successfully 
defending our law against exactly the same constitutional arguments 
made now. They are equally without weight at this point.
  So I urge my colleagues, whether they are wearing this wristband or 
not, to choose love. I know it will be difficult. It was difficult for 
many Connecticut legislators, and I carry with me the pen that our 
Connecticut Governor used to sign our law that significantly 
strengthened Connecticut's protection against these weapons, against 
criminals bearing them, against illegal sales, and against gun 
  This cause is not going away whatever the outcome today. The vote 
will be close on many of these amendments. The Newtown families are not 
going away, the Connecticut effect is not going away, and we are not 
going away. Unfortunately, gun violence is not going away, and we need 
to redouble and reinvigorate our efforts. Whatever the outcome here 
today, we are not going away.
  The world has watched Newtown exhibit the kind of strength and 
courage that we regard as uniquely American. Now the world is watching 
the Senate, and we will be held accountable for what happens here. 
History is watching. Let's be on the right side of history.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Madam President, I rise as a parent, as a father, as an 
American who saw the horror of Newtown.
  Too many times I have come to this Senate floor to say I offer my 
thoughts and prayers to the parents of the victims of an assault weapon 
attack. Too many times. Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown. How 
many times will we have to offer our thoughts and prayers to the 
victims of gun violence?
  I have two beautiful children, Alicia and Rob, and they are the most 
important and cherished people in my life. I don't know what I would do 
if anything happened to either one of them. So I am here for them and 
for the children they may have one day and for every child in Newtown 
and across America whose small voice has been silenced by a gun.
  I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that each and every Member 
of the Senate felt a loss that day just 4 months ago. Here we are, 4 
months later, trying to do something--but still not enough--for those 
children, for

[[Page S2717]]

those families, for all the families who have suffered the devastation 
of a shooter with the ability and the will to kill innocent people--as 
many as an assault weapon can kill as quickly as it can fire--a shooter 
with a desire to get off as many rounds in as short a time as possible.
  In my view, we are already too armed. We are by far the most armed 
Nation in the world. There are more guns in America--almost 90 per 100 
residents--than in any other nation. Do you know there are five 
federally licensed gun dealers in America for every McDonald's? Think 
about it. Think about how many times you see a McDonald's. Well, 
imagine five times as many gun dealers. There are about 310 million 
guns in America. But consider that those 310 million guns are owned by 
only about 40 percent of American households.
  Now we are in the midst of a debate in which some are arguing that 
not only should we not ban assault weapons, but we should force every 
State to allow people to carry concealed weapons.
  How does that help reduce gun violence? How are we reducing gun 
violence if we allow people to carry concealed weapons across State 
lines; if we allow someone in Florida or Virginia to carry their gun to 
New York City and Times Square or my home State of New Jersey? Is that 
the legacy we want to leave the children and families of Newtown?
  I strongly oppose any amendment that would allow reciprocity for 
concealed weapons. Yet even as we skirt the real issues, banning the 
weapons and the ammunition devices that have caused our Nation so much 
heartbreak, we would have those who see this as an opportunity to 
weaken gun laws; those who see this as a way to push, from my view, a 
radical agenda and put more firearms into the hands of those who don't 
deserve them.
  My home State of New Jersey has a gun control regime specifically 
tailored to a densely populated State. Our State requires affirmative 
permission to buy a firearm. But we leave that decision to those who 
know the State best in terms of its security--the State Police. They 
conduct a thorough background check, even more thorough than the 
Federal background check, and then the police sign off and give a 
purchaser a card to buy a firearm.
  Of course we have commonsense safeguards to ensure the Second 
Amendment is not violated, including appeal rights. But under an 
amendment offered by one of my colleagues, soon New Jersey's carefully 
constructed firearms law, if this amendment were to be adopted, would 
be eviscerated. Soon New Jersey's law would only be as good as the 
least restrictive States. This amendment, in essence, is mandatory 
concealed carry reciprocity. Not the current type of concealed carry 
reciprocity where States might voluntarily enter into agreements to 
allow their permits to be used in another State. No. This amendment 
forces States to accept other States' concealed carry permits.
  I guess so much for the States rights advocates that I have listened 
to here so many times.
  At least 28 States grant concealed carry permits to those convicted 
of stalking, and at least 7 States grant concealed carry permits to 
those convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery. At least 12 do not 
require any firearms safety training before the issuance of a concealed 
carry permit. Florida and Utah do not even require residency for a 
concealed carry permit. Yet this amendment would force States such as 
New Jersey to accept these permits even if the out-of-State concealed 
carry permit owner would not be eligible to simply possess a gun under 
our laws, much less carry.
  This amendment would turn our positive discussion on how to best 
protect our children into another feather in the cap of the NRA and its 
gun manufacturers, another example for it to show how it has a 
stranglehold on this national discussion. And, in my view, this is just 
asking for more gun violence, not ending it. Not banning assault 
weapons is asking for more gun violence. Allowing larger clips with 
more firepower does nothing to end the violence. It is not about 
hunting. If you need 100 rounds to hunt a deer, you are in sad shape.
  Do we honestly think it makes sense to allow someone without a 
mandatory background check to buy an assault weapon that can fire up to 
13 rounds a second with something called a bump fire stock? Should we 
not even be considering making weapons that can fire 13 rounds a second 
legal on the streets of America?
  Bang. That is one round fired. It took me 4 seconds to say those five 
words. In those 4 seconds, if I had an assault weapon, I could have 
gotten 52 rounds--52 bullets--fired in the time it took me to say five 
words. There is no need for that kind of firepower on the streets of 
America. There is no need for the same weapons of that sort to be on 
the streets of Newark, NJ, or Newtown, CT, as they are in Baghdad, 
  Any attempt that uses the Second Amendment as an excuse to allow that 
type of firepower on the streets without some common sense applied to 
it is not solving a problem, it is creating one.
  I will support efforts during this debate to go even further in 
keeping mass slaughter weapons out of the hands of criminals. I do not 
believe assault weapons--some of them having names such as ``Street 
Sweeper''--are about anything other than mass killing. I strongly 
believe in banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips 
that allow a deranged individual to kill dozens of people in a matter 
of seconds. There is simply no rationale for having these weapons on 
our streets--unless your intent is to inflict terror and destruction 
and mass casualties.
  In a nation where there are already 310 million guns and far too few 
regulations as to who owns and carries them, I believe we have a 
responsibility to take these assault weapons off the street. I 
understand that not everyone shares that view, but the one thing I 
cannot understand is how someone can argue against something as simple 
and as basic as requiring a background check before putting a deadly 
weapon in a person's hand.
  We owe it to the American people. We owe it to the children of 
Newtown, to the families who are still trying to pick up the pieces 
from that tragic day. We owe it to the family of the 6-year-old boy 
from Toms River who was shot recently by a 4-year-old neighbor with a 
.22 caliber rifle that was in the house. He did not survive the wounds. 
We owe it to every victim of gun violence to send a message that 
America will no longer be the most armed Nation in the world without at 
least having commonsense gun safety regulations.
  Who among us would be content with the counsel of patience and delay 
when we lose a neighbor or lose a loved one to the type of violence we 
could have prevented by a vote in the Senate today? It is time for some 
profiles in courage, and I believe that in the men and women of the 
Senate there exists that opportunity and that moment for a profile in 
courage to stand up for what is right. That is the opportunity that is 
presented to us today.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. I ask unanimous consent that I be recorded as cosponsor 
on the Grassley amendment No. 725.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I rise to speak on the issue the Senate 
is considering. It has been an interesting 3 or 4 weeks as we have 
considered and talked and thought about how we address what is best for 
our country and how we do that in a way that will protect the 
Constitution and protect individual rights and protect States rights. A 
lot of ideas have been thrown out, many of them with great infirmities 
in terms of either impacting Second Amendment rights, impacting 10th 
Amendment rights or the infirmity that they will not do anything to 
actually solve the problem.
  I come from a State that is very pro-gun. I am very pro-gun. I own a 
multitude of weapons. I know how to handle them, I know how to fire 
them, and I know how to safely store them. The issue in front of us is, 
how do we protect this Second Amendment right and the Supreme Court's 
rulings that have affirmed our individual right to self-defense and our 
individual right to freedom? I believe I actually have an answer that 
the Senate could coalesce around.

[[Page S2718]]

  As I talk to the most avid gun owners in Oklahoma, many of whom are 
opposing me trying to reach a compromise, the one question on which 
they agree with me is this: What if you could know as a gun owner or 
whoever you are--if you have a gun and you are going to sell it, what 
if you could know that you are not selling that gun to somebody on the 
``do not buy'' list?
  We have all these words going on now. Background check--there is no 
background check with the NICS list. It is a check against people who 
are prohibited from buying. It is not a very good list, by the way, 
because the States have not complied, the courts have not complied with 
people who have been convicted of felonies. We have a lot of problems 
in terms of a ``do not buy'' list.
  We have to think of this list like the ``do not fly'' list that 
Homeland Security has. Nobody wants to get on an airplane with somebody 
who is on that ``do not fly'' list because they are on that list for a 
very good reason.
  Most gun owners--as a matter of fact, I have not met one yet who 
wants to sell a gun to somebody who is on a ``do not buy'' list, which 
is called the NICS list. So how do we do that? How do we do that in 
such a way that we do not raise the cost, limit the freedom, or 
otherwise impede a free activity that is available, guaranteed under 
our Constitution?
  The other thing I have learned is that the easier laws are to comply 
with, the more compliance you will get.
  My proposal is very simple and straightforward. Let's create a way 
that whoever is selling a gun in this country can know they are not 
selling it to a criminal, they are not selling it to somebody who is 
prohibited, which is an illegal alien, a child sex abuser, a felon--
those people. How do you know? And can we do that in a way that doesn't 
inhibit commerce, doesn't inhibit your rights as an individual under 
the Second Amendment, doesn't inhibit the rights of a State under the 
10th Amendment? How do we do those things?
  You know, it is not hard. With our rights come some responsibilities. 
What if I could tell you that you could take out your cell phone and go 
to a portal and you could get a certificate that says--on your cell 
phones or printed out on your printer--that you are not on the list, 
and with that would be a PIN number, so that whomever could be selling 
you a gun would say, ``I am going to check your PIN number to see that 
this is not bogus, now show me your ID,'' and you could actually 
confirm whether somebody was on the list? That is how we control it. We 
make it easy. We don't put up large hurdles.
  I find myself caught between both extremes in this debate. I actually 
think it is smart policy to make sure we put in place something 
allowing law-abiding citizens to do the right thing, to actually make a 
difference. If we were to do that, a large percentage--not all of 
them--of the transfers of weapons and guns to people who should not 
have them would stop.
  The emotion associated with all the violent events over the last 3 or 
4 years tends to cause us to lose sight of some pretty commonsense 
principles. We are not going to stop all gun violence in this country. 
People who are going to do illegal things are still going to do them. 
We cannot stop it all, but we can do straightforward, simple things 
that can make a big difference in lessening the availability of weapons 
to people who should not have them.
  The other thing we can do is we can make it so that veterans do not 
automatically lose their Second Amendment right because for a short 
period of time, due to their service, they were incapable of managing 
their financial affairs. That is the right thing to do. We can do this. 
That is in this proposal.
  But what I fear is going to happen is nothing. So what we are going 
to be offering when there is a time to allow other amendments is my 
amendment No. 727, which does the following things:
  It reauthorizes the ``no buy'' list at an appropriate level.
  It creates reforms to the grant system so that States will comply 
with reporting those people who are dangerous to themselves or somebody 
else, so we incentivize States to do that.
  We create a protection for the Second Amendment rights of veterans.
  We require the courts to submit to the ``no buy'' list those who are 
convicted of violent felonies. We require some transparency in State 
reporting so we can know whether a State is actually complying by 
reporting those who are a danger to themselves and other people, those 
who are truly mentally infirm. That is because one of our big 
problems--if you take Virginia Tech, the individual who committed that 
crime was known by the State to be a danger to themselves or somebody 
else. Yet they did not report it to the ``do not buy'' list. We 
incentivize that.
  We allow for exceptions for people who are already authorized in 
their State to purchase guns, whether it is a concealed carry permit or 
whether it is what the State may use to say: Here is your authorization 
to say you are not on it. In other words, we give States primacy 
protecting the 10th Amendment. If they want to go further, they can, 
but we also allow them to innovate, which is one of the things our 
forefathers wanted us to make sure we did when we did things in 
  We create a consumer portal that is easy. We also create penalties if 
you misuse that portal for some other purpose.
  We enforce a destruction of those records into that portal so that 
the government cannot use that as a list to know who is purchasing 
guns. So we eliminate the concern over record-keeping and its assault 
on the Second Amendment.
  We also sunset this, so if it actually doesn't make a marked 
improvement--which I think it will--in 5 years, it goes away and we do 
something different.
  The other thing is we limit the ATF's ability to grossly violate the 
intent of previous laws in terms of demand letters on federally 
licensed firearm dealers.
  I daresay there is a difference in culture on guns in this country 
depending on where in the country you are, but there is a place to be 
found in the middle, in the Senate, for doing something that is common 
sense. What we are proposing is something that is simple, it doesn't 
cost any money to speak of, it is easily accessible, it is verifiable 
on both ends of the commercial transaction, it does nothing to 
eliminate the Second Amendment provisions in the Constitution or take 
away 10th Amendment rights of States, and it will actually decrease 
transfers of weapons to those who are on the ``do not buy'' list. Is it 
a comprehensive plan? No. Will it solve the problem? Yes. Will it work? 
  Some of the criticisms we heard--if there is no record, how do you 
know they did it? If 90 percent of the people in this country--which is 
what the media are all quoting--want us to do that, 90 percent of us 
think there ought to be an enhancement to the ``no buy'' list in terms 
of utilizing it, that same 90 percent of the people are the gun owners 
in America. So if 90 percent is the number, then you are going to have 
at least 90 percent compliance with this very simple, straightforward 
way that you can know you are complying with the law.
  The other area that is confusing is that people want--and why they 
want--a record of a gun. It is for the investigation of a crime. Well, 
guess what. The best way to not ever have that crime is to have an 
effective check on the ``do not buy'' list. It will not eliminate all 
crime, but they say the infirmity with ours is that the weapon cannot 
be traced. That is right, it cannot be traced. The vast majority of 
used weapons are not sold through gun dealers or at gun shows. They are 
sold by average, everyday Americans to somebody else.

  If we don't want the straw purchasers, felons, or illegal citizens 
buying them, then what we ought to do is set up something that 90 
percent of Americans are going to comply with. It is not hard to do. It 
is easy to do the right thing. It doesn't please the gun control 
groups, and it doesn't please the hard Second Amendment rights groups.
  If we think about it and actually make it easy for people to know 
that they could not sell a gun to somebody on the ``do not buy'' list, 
America would comply, and we would actually see a positive outcome of 
this debate.
  I am amazed at the misinformation people have about guns when they

[[Page S2719]]

come to the Senate floor and talk about them when they have never fired 
some of those weapons, have never held them in their hands, and do not 
know what they are designed for.
  I plan to come back tomorrow when I will bring up this amendment for 
  Our Founders had a Bill of Rights, and we have a Constitution. It was 
really designed for moral and good people. In that bill, as affirmed by 
the Supreme Court, was a Second Amendment right, and that is not going 
away. That right is not going to go away. Even if we were to take it 
away, the Supreme Court would probably bring it back.
  We really ought to be leading and talking about what the real 
problems are in our country. What are our real problems? One of the 
real problems is that we are not a moral and great people anymore 
compared to what we were when our Founding Fathers drafted those 
documents. We are in some moral decline, and that is because of an 
absence of real leadership at a lot of levels and in a lot of areas in 
our country. We ought to recognize that we cannot legislate away the 
evilness about us. We cannot fix it all with a law. We fix it in the 
way we live our lives and the way we treat one another and how we reach 
out to give our lives for another person every day.
  One of the crucial things is that we have become self-focused as 
Americans rather than Nation focused, and that is why we have seen this 
moral decline come upon us.
  What I think our country is looking for is real leadership on the 
principles which matter, that change people's minds about what they do 
and how they do it. We are getting into a much larger debate than guns. 
Evil is out there. That criminal element is out there. That mental 
illness is out there. We are not going to address all of that with a 
few laws on guns. We are going to address that by character-based, 
morally led, morally affirmed leadership at all levels throughout our 
  As a physician, I am trained to fix the real disease, not treat the 
symptoms. This debate is about symptoms. It is an important debate. 
There are things we can do, but the real disease is our moral decline 
as a country.
  The historians talk about it. John Taylor, the Scottish historian, 
talked about it. It is about the decline of all republics and what 
happens to them. America is built for a good, moral people. We have to 
have the leadership that calls us back to that.
  I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BURR. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Amendment No. 720

  Mr. BURR. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to call up my 
amendment numbered 720.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from North Carolina [Mr. Burr] for himself, Mr. 
     Wicker, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Risch, Mr. Cochran, Mr. 
     Moran, Mr. Thune, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Enzi, proposes an 
     amendment numbered 720.

  Mr. BURR. Madam President, I ask that the reading of the amendment be 
dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To protect the Second Amendment rights of veterans and their 

       At the end of subtitle A of title I, insert the following:


       (a) In General.--Chapter 55 of title 38, United States 
     Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new 

     ``Sec. 5511. Conditions for treatment of certain persons as 
       adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes

       ``In any case arising out of the administration by the 
     Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who 
     is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or 
     experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be 
     considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection 
     (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order 
     or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial 
     authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a 
     danger to himself or herself or others.''.
       (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the 
     beginning of chapter 55 of such title is amended by adding at 
     the end the following new item:

``5511. Conditions for treatment of certain persons as adjudicated 
              mentally incompetent for certain purposes.''.

  Mr. BURR. Madam President, I rise today in the middle of an important 
debate on gun control to talk about an issue that should have been at 
the forefront for years, and it deals with our Nation's veterans.
  I am specifically talking about 129,000 of our Nation's war heroes. 
Due to a determination within the Veterans' Administration, these war 
heroes have been deprived of their Second Amendment rights to own 
  This is apparently a much tougher issue to understand than I thought 
because it makes common sense to me that we should hold all individuals 
to the same threshold before we take their constitutional rights away. 
If a person is a Social Security beneficiary and Social Security makes 
a determination that person has a hard time handling their finances, 
Social Security will assign a person to him or her who will help them 
to navigate the financial challenges that a senior runs into. They 
don't just send somebody to do that and then turn around and put their 
name on the NICS list, which is the instant background check that 
automatically deprives a person of their Second Amendment right.
  The IRS doesn't equate the fact that because someone cannot handle 
their finances that they are mentally incapable or that they are a harm 
to themselves.
  What we have is a Veterans' Administration that when they find the 
veteran needs help with their financial affairs, the VA sends their 
name to the FBI, and they go on a NICS list. All of a sudden that takes 
away their Second Amendment right to own a gun.
  It says anybody who lives in that house--so it could be a spouse, a 
child, including an adult child--cannot own a firearm because the 
ruling says there cannot be a firearm in the residence. Clearly, after 
an appropriate determination, if a veteran, or any other American, is 
found to be a harm to themselves or has a mental disability, we would 
all agree that person should be disqualified from gun ownership.
  Let me say for the purposes of my colleagues--and for the American 
people--this is not the standard we currently apply at the Veterans' 
Administration. We look at a veteran who served his country and we say: 
You cannot balance your checkbook, so we are going to assign a 
fiduciary to you to balance your checkbook. That person cannot own a 
firearm. Think about that. The fiduciary may be the spouse, and 
suddenly that name goes to the NICS list. Why? Because within the VA an 
examiner has determined that an individual could not handle their own 
  The examiner is not a medical professional. I am talking about 
somebody who made a determination as to whether this veteran could 
handle the deposits of their VA checks and line up the payments which 
they need to make. If it has been determined they could not do that on 
their own, that would therefore automatically trigger that veteran's 
name. That name would be sent to the FBI and they would then be 
deprived of their Second Amendment rights in this country.
  Let me suggest that the current process is arbitrary. It doesn't look 
at whether they represent a danger to themselves or to others. It is in 
no way relevant to whether the individual should have access to 
firearms. To the credit of those who have brought amendments to the 
floor for the gun bill, they have tried to address this issue.
  I commend Senator Manchin, Senator Toomey, and Senator Kirk--who has 
been passionate about this--but what they have tried to do is say: We 
have to get an appeals process that is streamlined and easier.
  What I am saying to my colleagues is, these are people who should 
have never had their Second Amendment right taken away. They should not 
be on the NICS list. There has been no judicial determination of mental 
incompetence and no judicial determination

[[Page S2720]]

that they are a threat to themselves or to others. There has been no 
medical determination of a mental disability that would cause them to 
be a threat to themselves or anybody else. We have simply made a 
financial decision that they were not capable of handling their own 
  What I disagree with is that I don't want the Senate to focus on what 
should be the appropriate appeals process. What my legislation, 
amendment No. 720, does is get to the heart of it. It says what we are 
going to do is require the VA to go through a different process to make 
a determination before taking their Second Amendment right away.
  Some will say the VA has an appellate process. We have 129,000 
veterans today who currently have had their Second Amendment right 
taken away. Only 200 of those veterans have sought relief. Only 200 out 
of 129,000 veterans have sought relief. Here is the shocker: In less 
than a dozen cases the appeal has been reversed. The determination has 
been reversed in less than a dozen cases.
  Why would only 200 people appeal this decision which was arbitrarily 
made by the Veterans' Administration? Well, the VA doesn't provide any 
help. As a matter of fact, the veteran is on his or her own. Even the 
cost for the appeal is absorbed by the veteran.
  We have made it as difficult as we possibly can to deprive veterans 
of their Second Amendment, and then to say we are going to make it even 
harder for you by making it harder for us to reverse this because now 
veterans will be required to have financial skin in the game. Well, out 
of the 128,000 who haven't applied, having looked at only a half dozen 
being appealed, where is the incentive to invest money? A person might 
as well throw it down a rathole.
  So what I am suggesting to my colleagues is that the standard 
shouldn't be, Can you take care of your finances; the standard should 
be and ought to be, Are you a harm to yourself or to others--a 
determination that everywhere else in society is made by the bench, by 
a judicial review.
  My good friends who offered an amendment to fix the appellate process 
suggested we should internally, within the VA, set up this appeals 
process whereby we overcome some of the hurdles of the costs and 
whether a veteran has aid. Let me say to my colleagues: Are we 
confident we can set up a real appeals process within an agency that is 
so blind they put 129,000 people on the NICS list and deprived them of 
their Second Amendment right? Can we take the individuals who made this 
interpretation and believe they can go through a fair appellate review 
of an applicant's request to be taken off the list? I personally don't 
believe that can happen. For that reason I am offering an amendment to 
this bill to change the standard--not to eliminate whether a veteran is 
listed as a harm to themselves or others, and that, in itself, would 
take away one's Second Amendment ability to own a gun, but it is to say 
apply the same standard to veterans we apply to every other American.
  Imagine what would happen if every Social Security beneficiary who 
got assigned somebody to help with their finances lost their Second 
Amendment right to have a gun. We would kill ourselves, 100 Members of 
the Senate, trying to get to the Senate floor to change the law because 
the pressure would be so great. The numbers may not be as big as we 
might see out of Social Security, but that is the entire population.
  I suggest to my colleagues I can't think of a population in America 
that deserves their Second Amendment right protected more than those 
who laid their life on the line to protect this Republic we have.
  In conclusion, I urge my colleagues to support amendment No. 720. I 
am not sure what the disposition of this piece of legislation will end 
up being, but I am convinced that with the addition of amendment No. 
720--a vote in favor of this amendment makes whatever this bill looks 
like at the end of the day a better bill, one that fairly represents 
our Nation's veterans, and I think continues our commitment to people 
who have made the ultimate sacrifice to their country.
  I thank the Chair and I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Madam President, they say when a person outlives their 
child, it is unnatural; it violates the laws of nature, and a person is 
never ever the same. We all wish we never have to experience that 
  But on Friday, December 14, 20 sets of moms and dads sent their first 
graders off to school at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, 
expecting, as every parent does, to see them come home on Friday and 
then go out and spend a wonderful weekend with their kids. It was going 
to be a great weekend because it was the Christmas season. As a parent 
of a little boy who is a little bit younger than the first graders who 
went into that classroom that day, I know how amazing the Christmas 
season can be with a little one. Whether they were going to be picking 
out their Christmas tree or putting up outdoor lights or visiting Santa 
Claus, it was going to be the kind of weekend parents live for.
  Those parents sent their kids off to school that morning and a few 
hours later, one shockwave of violence later, 40 parents had outlived 
their children.
  I have been so angry for months. I have been angry at Adam Lanza. I 
have been angry at his mother for giving him access to those guns. I 
have been angry at this place for 20 years of inaction. But, mostly, I 
have been angry at the people in this Chamber and outside of this 
Chamber who say what we are discussing here right now this week 
wouldn't have changed what happened in Newtown. I am angry for this 
first simple reason: They are wrong. Guns have become so much more 
powerful in this Nation over the past several decades--so powerful that 
the assault weapon, the military-style assault weapon that was brought 
into that school that day, was fired at 20 children and every single 
one of the kids who was hit died. None of them survived because of the 
power of that weapon. It got off over 150 bullets in a time period that 
was perhaps only 5 minutes long, from a weapon that could discharge 6 
bullets a second. If there had been a weapon of lesser power in that 
school that day, there might be kids still alive.
  Second, the shooter, to get 150 rounds off, only had to switch 
magazines 6 times. During at least one of those exchanges, a bunch of 
kids ran out of the room, and they are alive today. If we had a 
limitation on magazines that was closer to 10 rounds, Adam Lanza would 
have had to have changed clips 15 times, providing another 9 
opportunities for some subset of those 20 kids to run out and rejoin 
their parents for the weekend.
  In addition to passing laws that would have changed the reality in 
Sandy Hook, we have an obligation to make sure it doesn't happen again, 
and we have an obligation to do something about the routine, everyday 
gun violence plaguing this Nation. Twenty-eight people died in Newtown 
that day, including 26 at the school, the shooter, and his mother. But 
every single day the average is higher. Thirty people on average are 
dying across this country from gun violence. From a statistical point 
of view, December 14 was just an average day.
  So what do we do? The amendments we are debating here today offered 
by my Democratic colleagues are a good step in the right direction. I 
suggest there are three rules that should guide our actions. Frankly, I 
think these are pretty simple rules that the vast majority of the 
American public in every single State we represent here would agree 
  First, I believe people should be able to own guns, to protect 
themselves, to shoot for sport, to hunt, but the criminals shouldn't be 
able to own guns. If someone opposes the Manchin-Toomey amendment, they 
cannot say with a straight face they oppose criminals getting guns. If 
a Member votes against Manchin-Toomey, they are basically saying they 
are OK with more criminals having guns.
  Ninety percent of Americans want us to make this commonsense change. 
Ninety percent of Americans want us to crack down on the number of 
criminals who have weapons out there, because they know almost 40 
percent of gun sales in this country are done without a background 
  For a while, I could only explain opposition to near universal 
background checks through the power of the gun

[[Page S2721]]

lobby, because I thought people must know in their heart that a simple, 
easy thing to do is to make sure criminals don't own guns, so there 
must be some external pressure that is forcing people to do the wrong 
thing. The longer I have spent in this place, the more I am convinced 
there are people who actually believe we should go back to the days of 
the wild, wild west; that we should usher in a new era of gun control 
Darwinism, in which the good guys have guns and the bad guys have guns 
and we hope the good guys shoot the bad guys. The gun lobby frankly 
tells us this. We should probably listen to them. They say the only way 
to stop a bad guy with a gun is to give a good guy a gun, that the 
government should get out of the way.
  The second rule is this: Some guns are too dangerous to have on the 
streets. We have always accepted this premise. We have always said 
there are certain weapons that should be in the hands of law 
enforcement and the military only. Guns have changed over the years. 
Guns that used to be in the hands of the military now are available to 
the public and Adam Lanza had one of those weapons when he walked into 
that school. These are military weapons. These aren't weapons one needs 
to defend one's home. These are not weapons we need to go out and shoot 
at targets or hunt in our forests. These are weapons designed to kill 
as many people as quickly as possible, and they are finding their way 
into our schools and our movie theaters and our places of worship. Some 
guns are too dangerous to have on the street.
  Third, some ammunition too easily allows for mass murder. The young 
man who walked into the movie theater in Aurora had a weapon and 
attached to it was a 100-round drum. Who on Earth needs a 100-round 
drum of ammunition to protect themselves, to go out and shoot for 
sport? Nobody does. It should be illegal. Thirty rounds is too much as 
well. Thirty-round clips, one-hundred-round drums, too easily lead to 
mass murder and it is being seen in this country over and over and 

  We can take a step forward to realizing those three basic principles 
today on the floor of the Senate. We can vote for the Manchin-Toomey 
amendment supported by 90 percent of the American public which will 
make sure less criminals have guns, something that everybody out 
there--except for a subset of people in this Chamber--agrees on. We can 
make the decision to take these dangerous assault weapons off the 
streets, allowing for thousands of weapons to still be legally 
purchasable, but to say the most dangerous ones should stay in the 
hands of the military and law enforcement, and we can say enough is 
enough when it comes to these high-capacity clips.
  We know the shooting stopped in Aurora and Tucson when they exchanged 
magazines. We know kids escaped in Newtown when the shooter exchanged 
clips. Less bullets per magazine means more people survive these mass 
shootings. We can do that today as well.
  When we vote today, I would suggest that of all of the victims we can 
think about--and I have been coming down to the floor for the last 2 
weeks talking about victims; I probably told the story of 50 or 60 or 
70 victims on the floor of this Senate--that we think of two 
specifically. I would end today by talking first about a woman from 
Chicago named Shirley Chambers. Shirley raised her four kids, three 
boys and one girl, in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing complex in 
Chicago. That is where ``Good Times'' supposedly took place. It was a 
tough life, but she remembers her kids riding tricycles throughout the 
neighborhood and she said they were all happy kids.
  On January 26 of this year, seven people were killed from gun 
violence--seven people in 1 day were killed from gun violence in 
Chicago. One of them was her son Ronnie Chambers. His mother buried him 
soon after his death. Ronnie was one of the 3,300 people who had been 
killed by gun violence in our cities and in our suburbs since December 
14 of last year. She had four kids, but after Ronnie died Shirley was 
childless, because all four of her children had been killed by guns on 
the streets of Chicago: Carlos, Jerome, LaToya, and now Ronnie, all 
gone. She said, ``My life will never ever be the same again.'' Isn't 
that the understatement of the decade.
  Lastly, I want my colleagues to think of Mark and Jackie Barden. I 
have talked a lot about little Daniel on the floor of the Senate, so I 
will end my remarks in this debate with him. Mark and Jackie lost 
Daniel that morning. These parents from Newtown have been so generous. 
They have visited our offices. They have allowed myself and Senator 
Blumenthal to come to this floor and to tell the story of who their 
kids were and who their kids would have been. Mark and Jackie said this 
of Daniel after he died:

       Everyone who has ever met Daniel remembers and loves him. 
     Words cannot express what a special boy Daniel was. Such a 
     light. Always smiling, unfailingly polite, incredibly 
     affectionate, fair, and so thoughtful towards others, 
     imaginative in play, both intelligent and articulate in 
     conversation; in all, a constant source of laughter and joy. 
     Daniel was fearless in his pursuit of happiness and life. He 
     earned his ripped jeans and his missing two front teeth. 
     Despite that, his mother said, he was just so good. He 
     embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the 
  Every morning, the Bardens' kids would leave for school in 
succession. They all went to different schools. Daniel was the 
youngest, so he left the latest. Like most kids, he never got out of 
bed until he absolutely had to. So every morning, his older brother, 
whom he adored, left for school before Daniel had gotten up. But not on 
December 14. Every single morning that school year, Daniel had slept in 
as his brother went off to school. But on Friday morning, something 
different happened. Daniel got up early, and as his brother was walking 
down the driveway to the bus, for the first time that entire school 
year, Daniel ran after him in his pajamas and flip-flops, and he hugged 
his older brother, and he said goodbye.
  Losing a child is unnatural, but what should be just as unnatural is 
a Senator's unwillingness to do something to change that reality. 
Occasionally, in truly exceptional moments, we hold the power here that 
is so big and so bold to change the reality of life and death. We 
cannot amend what happened to the Bardens. Their loss will sear 
forever. We cannot change the fact that Shirley Chambers lost her four 
children. She will bear that loss for the rest of her life. But we can 
reduce the likelihood that more kids will die of gun violence in 
Chicago. We can reduce the chances that another Sandy Hook will happen. 
These parents cannot understand the casual willingness of this body to 
turn our backs on a chance to make sure that kind of loss does not 
happen to more parents. To them, that would be truly unnatural.
  I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.

                           Amendment No. 725

(Purpose: To address gun violence, improve the availability of records 
   to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, address 
mental illness in the criminal justice system, and end straw purchases 
      and trafficking of illegal firearms, and for other purposes)

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I ask consent to set aside the pending 
amendment and call up my amendment and ask for its immediate 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Iowa [Mr. Grassley] for himself, Mr. Cruz, 
     Mr. Graham, Mr. Thune, Ms. Ayotte, Mr. Hoeven, Mr. Hatch, Mr. 
     Flake, Mr. Coats, Mr. Cornyn, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Wicker, Mr. 
     Johnson of Wisconsin, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Risch, Mr. Rubio, Ms. 
     Murkowski, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Johanns, Mr. Portman, Mr. 
     McConnell, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Vitter, and Mr. Coburn, proposes an 
     amendment numbered 725.

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that reading 
of the amendment be dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of 
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, the Senate will vote today on an 
amendment that I am offering for myself, Senator Cruz, Senator Graham, 
and many others, as a substitute.
  I believe that the underlying bill infringes on the Second Amendment 
rights of law-abiding gun owners and it does not provide for adequate 
measures against criminals who commit gun violence.

[[Page S2722]]

  My approach is much better than the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
  The current background check database, called NICS, is broken. Not 
enough accurate information on prohibited persons is making its way 
into the database. This is particularly true for mental health records.
  Checking firearms purchasers against an incomplete database will not 
be effective in stopping prohibited persons from gaining access to 
  Additionally, we should not further strain the existing, broken 
system by expanding the use of an incomplete database to more 
transactions, as Manchin-Toomey would. We should fix the existing 
system. And that is what my amendment does.
  First, we should reauthorize NICS. So the Grassley-Cruz amendment 
reauthorizes NICS Improvement Act grants to States for providing mental 
health records.
  The amendment codifies one of President Obama's Executive orders that 
requires the Attorney General to issue guidance to federal agencies 
about which records they must submit to NICS.
  It improves NICS as well by clarifying the definition of 
``adjudicated mentally incompetent,'' so that it includes only actual 
adjudications, not a single psychiatrist's diagnosis.
  Manchin-Toomey does not.
  Mental health records would also be improved by requiring the Federal 
courts to make available to NICS information concerning such situations 
as defendants who plead guilty to a crime by reason of insanity.
  This approach is consistent with what Washington Post columnist 
Courtland Milloy writes today. He says:

       [T]he national gun-control legislation set for debate in 
     Congress would rely on a bureaucratic dragnet of ``background 
     checks'' so extensive that anybody's hands could end up being 
     the wrong ones. Including mine.

  He thinks that gun control supporters are ``bent on harassing [him] 
into giving'' up his gun.
  He also offers a prescription for the actual problems:

       Go after the criminal. Take his illegal gun. Leave 
     everybody else alone.

  My amendment reflects that view. It enhances criminal prosecutions of 
those who use guns.
  The real way to fight gun crime is to pursue criminals, not law-
abiding citizens.
  Under my amendment, Federal gun crime prosecutions are to be 
increased. This will happen because the very successful Project Exile 
will be expanded nationally. This initiative requires Federal and State 
officials to develop agreements on enforcing gun laws. It requires the 
U.S. Attorney to designate at least one assistant to prosecute firearms 
cases. Project Exile will be expanded to 18 jurisdictions, including 
three tribal jurisdictions, with high violent crime rates.
  The Grassley-Cruz amendment authorizes $15 million per year for 
Project Exile, which will cover more Federal prosecutors and ATF 
  Manchin-Toomey does not.
  The amendment also establishes a task force for prosecuting felons 
and fugitives who fail NICS background checks.
  Right now, thousands of people who are prohibited from owning guns 
fail background checks. Yet, the Justice Department prosecutes less 
than 1 percent of them. More of these criminals need to be prosecuted.
  Manchin-Toomey does not address the issue.
  The amendment also increases the maximum sentence from 5 years to 10 
for those who lie and buy on the form that needs to be filled out when 
purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer.
  We also need to think hard before the Justice Department asks gun 
dealers to sell guns to felons and then doesn't track them. That is why 
Operation Fast and Furious was such a disaster. It led to the death of 
a brave Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry.
  To avoid such an ill-considered operation in the future, the 
amendment requires the Attorney General, the Deputy, or the head of the 
Criminal Division to personally approve any programs for selling guns 
to criminals.
  The Leahy amendment's similar provision would allow the Director of 
ATF to make this determination. But the ATF Director did not object 
during Fast and Furious. So that defeats the whole point of requiring 
high-level approval.
  Oversight work on Fast and Furious showed the need for Federal 
statutes against straw purchasing and gun trafficking. The amendment 
contains such offenses, but in a more targeted way than does the Leahy 
  And now that there is a trafficking offense, the amendment strikes 
ATF's unnecessary ability to issue demand letters collecting 
information on purchasers of certain rifles along the southwest border.
  The way to target gun violence is to direct efforts against 
criminals, not law-abiding citizens. So the amendment increases the 
maximum penalty from 10 to 15 years for transferring a firearm to a 
prohibited user, as well as the penalty for illegally possessing a 
  It creates a 15-year maximum sentence for transferring a firearm to 
someone knowing that it will be used for a crime of violence, drug 
trafficking crime, foreign narcotics kingpin crime, or terrorism.
  Contrary to what the majority would have the American people believe, 
mass shootings are not only about guns and mental illness. They are 
also about what has happened to us as a society.
  So the amendment authorizes a study by the National Institute of 
Justice and National Academy of Sciences on the causes of mass 
  There are other proposals on that subject before us. But they are 
careful not to look at the entire problem. I don't want to single out 
any possible cause. But I also don't want to exempt any potential 
  So some of the mass shooters, for instance, watched and used 
disturbing video games. The possible influence of violent video games 
should be part of what is examined.
  The amendment also expands the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
  It allows interstate firearms sales by permitting out-of-State 
dealers to sell in a State if they comply with all State laws in which 
they are selling.
  It permits members of the armed services to buy a gun in their State 
of residence or where they are stationed.
  The amendment allows firearms dealers to access NICS to run 
background checks on their prospective employees. But unlike Manchin-
Toomey, the amendment requires that the rights of the prospective 
employee be respected. The employee would have to be provided notice 
and have to give their consent before such a check could be run.
  Also unlike Manchin-Toomey, the amendment would expand the rights of 
lawful gun owners to travel through other States without fear of 
prosecution. Manchin-Toomey, whatever its intent, would make it more 
likely that law-abiding gun owners would be arrested and prosecuted as 
they traveled through other States.
  Title II of the amendment addresses mental health.
  It reauthorizes the bipartisan Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and 
Crime Reduction Act.
  These funds are used for mental health courts, crisis intervention 
teams, veteran treatment courts, police academy efforts, and prison 
  The amendment allows Byrne grants to be used for mental health 
programs and operations by law enforcement or corrections.
  It allows COPS grants to be used for training law enforcement to deal 
with mental illness.
  To restore the gun owning rights of our veterans, a judicial 
determination would be necessary to determine that a person is a danger 
to himself or others to be considered to have been adjudicated mentally 
  Title III is focused on school safety.
  It reauthorizes the Secure our School grants at the prior funding 
level of $30 million per year for 10 years.
  To safeguard taxpayer money, it would require that different offices 
that award grants at the Justice Department consult with each other 
before these grants are awarded.
  We want to help as many different schools as possible.
  Finally, we should understand that Manchin-Toomey would not have 
stopped Newtown.
  People who steal guns do not submit to background checks.
  We heard testimony in the Judiciary Committee that background checks 
will be effective only if they are universal and accompanied by gun 

[[Page S2723]]

  We should not start down the path to gun registration, as history 
shows where that leads.
  Manchin-Toomey creates, not closes, loopholes by requiring background 
checks for some private sales but not others.
  We have heard from gun control groups that were it to pass, they 
would immediately seek to expand background checks even further.
  This would be a running start on a slippery slope.
  The way Manchin-Toomey works, if someone takes out an ad for a gun in 
their church bulletin or farm bureau newsletter, they would have to 
proceed with a background check.
  Manchin-Toomey's exception for family member transfers provides cold 
  If the family member transfers the gun to another family member he 
does not know, but is found later that he had reasonable cause to 
believe is prohibited, they could face 5 years in jail.
  Even worse, for the first time, a violation of Federal law would be 
based on a violation of State or local law.
  A family member may not know the firearms laws in the place where the 
other family member resides.
  Those laws are published.
  Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
  A person would have reasonable cause to believe that a family member 
was in violation of them even if the person did not actually know those 
State or local laws.
  If they transferred the gun to a family member, and they did not know 
the permitting rules in another state, under Manchin-Toomey, that 
family member could face up to 5 years in jail.
  That is unacceptable.
  We cannot have the fate of law-abiding citizens turn on assurances of 
prosecutorial discretion.
  Finally, my amendment, and not Manchin-Toomey, protects the rights of 
law-abiding gun owners to travel through other States if their guns are 
unloaded and ammunition is secured.
  Manchin-Toomey seems to do this but it does not.
  It cuts back on existing protections.
  It provides that the criminal immunity does not apply if the 
transportation does not violate any gun felony.
  But some State laws say that not having a State permit for a gun is a 
  So a law-abiding gun owner who did not have a permit would commit a 
State felony.
  Under Manchin-Toomey, they could be arrested and prosecuted.
  Other States that make gun transportation crimes misdemeanors could 
change those to felonies and eliminate the force of the Gun Owners 
Protection Act.
  My amendment contains commonsense measures to fight gun violence in 
our communities and protect the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun 
  This is the better way to go.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, today the Senate is scheduled to vote on 
an amendment proposed as a partisan Republican alternative to the 
bipartisan legislation that was reported by the Judiciary Committee and 
that has been the business before the Senate for the last 2 weeks. The 
committee held three hearings and four markups starting in January and 
concluding in the middle of March. Republican members of the Committee 
participated but did not offer this substitute at any juncture. When 
Majority Leader Reid introduced the Safe Communities, Safe Schools bill 
on March 21 and then was forced to end a filibuster to proceed to it 
last week, the sponsors of this measure were among those filibustering. 
They justified their filibuster on the fiction that the bill before the 
Senate somehow violated the Second Amendment. Of course it does not. If 
further proof were needed, the fact that they have now reversed 
themselves to offer a substitute that steals large portions of the 
bipartisan underlying bill provisions would be it.
  The amendment the Senate is now being forced to vote on contains 81 
pages of legislative text, and was filed just this morning, so I am not 
even sure of the amendment number. This last-minute alternative is 
apparently being offered so that Republicans who fear crossing the 
Washington gun lobby can go home and say that they voted for something. 
I invited all members of the Judiciary Committee to work with us and to 
bring forward their best ideas to reduce gun violence in our society 
and to have them be fully heard in the Judiciary Committee, in regular 
order. When Senator Grassley and others came forward, we worked with 
them to incorporate changes in the Leahy-Collins gun trafficking bill 
and the Boxer school safety bill to accommodate them. This is our 
reward. No good deed goes unpunished apparently. I am disappointed that 
after the tremendous effort so many Senators on the Judiciary Committee 
made to carefully consider and debate legislation, to reach across the 
aisle to build consensus, and to work with a seriousness of purpose 
that would honor the victims of Newtown, Connecticut and all of those 
whose lives have been affected by gun violence, that this is their 
  The Republican amendment was never proposed during the months of 
Judiciary Committee consideration. It has not been the subject of 
hearings. No Senator who supports this effort will have any standing to 
demand regular order on any other matter, least of all on consideration 
of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will next be 
considered by the Judiciary Committee.
  I oppose the Republican alternative and encourage other Senators who 
are serious about making progress in the effort to reduce gun violence 
to do the same. This amendment is not a serious effort to fulfill the 
extraordinarily important obligation we took on as Senators after the 
tragedy in Connecticut.
  The Senators from Connecticut have spoken eloquently over hours and 
days on the Senate floor. Senators Kaine and Warner from Virginia gave 
moving remarks on the anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. They 
have helped to celebrate the memory of those who lost their lives in 
Connecticut, in Virginia, and in other terrible events. They have 
carried to the Senate the voices of millions of Americans who are 
demanding that we take meaningful action. I commend them for their 
work. There are measures on which we will vote today that will carry 
out our responsibility. The alternative that Republicans put forward 
for a cover vote is, in my view, not one of them.
  I am especially disappointed that after working so closely with the 
Ranking Member on the legislation to combat straw purchasing and 
firearms trafficking that Senator Collins, Senator Gillibrand, Senator 
Kirk and I introduced, and after earning his support on that measure in 
the Judiciary Committee, that his amendment contains a proposal that 
will take us backward, not forward, when it comes to dealing with these 
serious problems. Anyone serious about the problems on the Southwest 
border involving straw purchasing and gun trafficking should be 
determined to give law enforcement the tools they desperately need. The 
Leahy-Collins bill does that. The watered-down version shoehorned into 
this Republican alternative does not.
  The legislation that Senator Collins and I introduced was drafted 
with input from law enforcement. It provides the tools law enforcement 
needs to combat straw purchasing and gun trafficking, and it has the 
support of numerous major law enforcement organizations. We did not 
just work with law enforcement, however. We consulted with other 
Senators from both sides of the aisle, including Senator Grassley, and 
incorporated their suggestions. We even worked with the National Rifle 
Association to address all of its substantive concerns.
  In contrast, the junior Senator from Texas, a self-proclaimed leader 
of the filibuster against considering any gun violence legislation, 
introduced his watered-down version of our bill on straw purchasing and 
gun trafficking just this week. He did not offer amendments when the 
Judiciary Committee, a Committee on which he is a member, met to 
consider and report the Leahy-Collins-Gillibrand bill. His bill takes 
the serious proposal Senator Collins, Senator Gillibrand and I 
developed and strips out almost all of the important tools that law 
enforcement requested and needs. As far as I can tell, his bill has not 
been endorsed by any law enforcement groups. Ours is endorsed by the 
National Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement 
Officers Association, the FBI Agents Association, the National District 
Attorney's Association, and all nine of the members of the National

[[Page S2724]]

Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, including the 
International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs 
Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, and others.
  There is no wonder as to why. The trafficking provisions suggested by 
the Republican alternative essentially give straw purchasers a road map 
to avoid prosecution. As long as straw purchasers ask no questions and 
bury their heads in the sand, they cannot be held accountable. The 
Republican substitute requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable 
doubt that a straw purchaser knew for certain that he was buying for a 
prohibited person. A straw purchaser could have every suspicion in the 
world that the actual buyer is a dangerous criminal, but as long as he 
deliberately shields himself from getting confirmation of that fact, he 
is untouchable. Willful ignorance will be their shield.
  The substitute also gives gun traffickers the same road map. The bill 
Senator Collins and I have proposed prohibits an individual from buying 
a gun and giving it to someone you know will then give it to a 
criminal. The Republican proposal inexplicably removes this provision. 
So as long as the organizer of a firearms trafficking ring uses a 
middle-man between the straw purchaser and the ultimate recipient, it 
is simple to avoid prosecution for providing guns to dangerous 
  The proposal from the junior Senator from Texas also takes out the 
provision in the Leahy-Collins bill that allows law enforcement to use 
wire taps to investigate straw purchasers and gun traffickers. And it 
also takes away the ability to prosecute gun traffickers for money 
laundering and racketeering and to seize their ill-gotten proceeds. How 
does this make us safer? What is the rationale for weakening these law 
enforcement tools?
  Not content to undermine the straw purchasing and gun trafficking 
measures Senator Collins and I have proposed, the Republican substitute 
aids the Mexican drug cartels by eliminating an existing tool that the 
Justice Department needs to combat violence on the Southwest border. 
The ability of cartels to purchase firearms in the Southwest has led to 
terrible violence. In order to investigate and stem the flow of 
dangerous weapons to the cartels, the Justice Department requires 
licensed gun dealers in that area to report sales of multiple long guns 
such as assault rifles to the ATF. This practice has provided law 
enforcement with major investigative leads, yet the Republican proposal 
prohibits it.
  The Republican substitute also interferes with state prosecutions of 
gun crimes. Under existing law, a person who is traveling through a 
state with a gun he is not allowed to possess in that state can assert 
as a defense that he was merely traveling between two states in which 
his possession would be legal. This is fair. But the Republican 
proposal takes this defense and places the burden on the state 
prosecutor to disprove the defendant's claim beyond a reasonable doubt 
in all cases, even if the defendant has offered no evidence at all to 
support his claim. If the state prosecutor fails to meet this high 
burden, the Republican proposal requires the state to pay the 
defendant's attorney's fees. This is a clear intrusion on the 
longstanding police powers of states.
  I previously have spoken about the amendment proposed by Senators 
Manchin and Toomey. That amendment contains a number of important 
provisions. One aspect of the amendment that has not received enough 
attention is the additional due process it affords to veterans who have 
been deemed mentally incompetent by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
The amendment provides that before veterans who have been adjudicated 
mentally incompetent lose their right to a firearm, they can go before 
a board or a court to evaluate whether they can safely use a firearm. 
The amendment requires that veterans be notified of this opportunity. 
This adds to existing law that allows veterans who are no longer 
mentally incompetent to regain their right to a firearm. These laws are 
important and I support them.
  I cannot support the Republican proposal, however, because it rolls 
back the existing laws that prohibit mentally ill people from 
possessing and using guns. It rolls back these laws not only for 
veterans, but for many civilians deemed mentally incompetent. It would 
force the FBI to purge existing records from the background check 
system for those mentally incompetent people. This is dangerous. It is 
unwise, and it makes us less safe.
  What this Republican alternative proposes is weak and unworkable and 
will be of little use to law enforcement. I urge all Senators to reject 
this proposal. We have heard much criticism and blame directed at the 
Justice Department for not adequately enforcing existing laws. But when 
Congress passes toothless laws it is Congress and not law enforcement 
that is to blame. The Republican alternative is not a serious solution 
to the plague of gun violence.
  I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I want to speak today about the series of 
votes that are going to be taking place this afternoon on gun rights. I 
wanted to start off by telling a little story and explain why there are 
some difficulties with some of those amendments that are here.
  I had a person in Cheyenne come to me and say: I advertised a gun I 
wanted to sell. The guy was from southern Colorado, so he had to drive 
about 300 miles. But he was former FBI and had a concealed carry 
permit. He was willing to drive up to Cheyenne and wanted to do it the 
right way--both of them wanted to do it the right way.
  The person from Colorado was willing to pay the fee for doing a gun 
check. The person in Cheyenne arranged for a federally licensed dealer 
to do that. So they met at the gun store with the gun. Of course, 
credentials as a former FBI agent is probably good enough to get 
through a gun check. Concealed carry permit, there is reciprocity in 
Wyoming for that. They did not think there would be any problem. They 
looked at it and put it into the system and got word back that he would 
know in 5 days. Well, it is a long trip to get a gun. The person had a 
gun that was just like it. He was convinced of the credentials, so they 
went to his house and finished the transaction. The fellow from 
Colorado went home. The fellow from Cheyenne went down to retrieve his 
other gun. He found out that it is now in the Federal system. So he can 
have a background check done on himself to get his own gun back.
  So there are difficulties with the gun check. They are not immediate. 
There is not a computer that immediately says: This person is not in 
there so go ahead and sell them a gun. It can be a 5-day process, 
which, for a 3-day gun show can be a bit of a problem, or even a 
shorter one than that.
  I want to talk a little more broadly about gun rights because the 
Senate will be voting on proposals today that affect rights not created 
by the law but, rather, were created by the Constitution that last a 
lot longer than anything we do in this body. Wyoming is a State of gun 
owners. A large number of Wyoming residents grow up learning to respect 
and lawfully use firearms.
  As a matter of fact, many schools and youth organizations build 
hunter safety and gun safety into their curriculums so that young 
people become familiar with the responsibilities of gun ownership at an 
early age. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a majority of 
Wyoming residents have called on me to oppose any legislation that puts 
additional restrictions on the freedoms they enjoy and use daily.
  I have been saying for some time that the bill before the Senate does 
not focus on the problem. There is no doubt that we need to do more to 
curb the senseless acts of violence which continue to occur in this 
  One of the things we need is parents to be more careful and more 
repetitive at telling their kids it is not right to kill people, it is 
not even right to bully them, and it is definitely not right for them 
to kill themselves. Until we can get that message across to our kids, I 
hope that we do not rely on a few votes by this body to make everybody 

[[Page S2725]]

comfortable that all of the problems are taken care of. They will not 
  The Senate should focus on making sure current laws are enforced; 
they are not. Finally, our Nation and its communities should be doing 
more to foster the idea that life has to be respected. However, the 
problem with several of the proposals we will vote on today is that 
they add to programs with track records of failure.
  Additionally, I oppose limiting the rights of gun owners to transfer 
their firearms to their neighbor or loan hunting rifles to their family 
members. The underlying bill the Senate is debating would restrict that 
right in many areas and would only make gun ownership more burdensome 
on lawful citizens.
  My colleagues in other States may not realize this, but in Wyoming 
guns are not used just for self-defense and recreation. They are a 
tool. Ask the rancher who uses a rifle to defend his livestock from 
predation or the outfitter who uses a gun to protect clients in the 
back country.
  Firearms do have everyday uses in Wyoming. Sometimes it is necessary 
to transfer or loan a gun to a nephew, a niece, or an employee. But 
under what is being considered, that right may be severely infringed. I 
do not condone acts of gun violence. I am a father and a grandfather 
and will do everything I can to keep guns out of the wrong hands. 
However, I am not willing to infringe on the constitutional right of 
lawful gun owners when the laws already designed to protect us are 
being unenforced.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REED. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call 
be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Heinrich). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, since 1968, more Americans have been killed 
by gun violence in the United States than have died in all the wars in 
American history combined. This is a heavy toll on public safety and 
public health. As a body, this Senate can do more and should do more to 
make our communities safer.
  It has been too many years, too little action, too much tragedy and 
heartbreak since the last debate on guns. I know all my colleagues 
share my utter horror at the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary 
School in Connecticut last December. Yet our responses to this and 
other tragedies are vastly different. I am motivated by them to demand 
passage of serious, concrete, and comprehensive measures to try to 
safeguard innocent and precious lives, to prevent the next Newtown, the 
next Aurora, the next Tucson, and countless other devastating examples 
of senseless gun violence.
  Unfortunately, it seems we are on the verge of throwing up our hands 
and saying there is nothing we can do. But there is something we can 
  We will take a series of votes this afternoon to reinstate the 
assault weapons ban and prohibit high-capacity magazines, amendments I 
am cosponsoring, and a compromise effort to close the gun show loophole 
and require better background checks. These measures balance protection 
for responsible gun ownership with protection for public safety.
  As someone who has served in the U.S. military, I believe carrying a 
gun is a serious responsibility. However, today it is far too easy for 
criminals, domestic abusers, gang members, and terrorists to buy 
  Today's New York Times describes just how easy it is. One South 
Carolina man is noted as:

     a fugitive from the Rhode Island police who has two 
     outstanding felony warrants as well as a misdemeanor warrant. 
     His legal status bars him from owning guns, but he was 
     recently seeking to buy an AK-47 assault rifle on [the 
     website] Armslist and was also trying to trade a Marlin 
     rifle. He posted photos to his Facebook account of an AK-47 
     he had already purchased, along with a variety of other guns.

  Clearly, the system is broken, and there is room for common sense 
reform. Indeed, we need to close gaping loopholes in current law which 
allow the sale of firearms at gun shows or online without 
accountability or background checks to determine whether the buyer has 
a criminal record.
  The Manchin-Toomey compromise, while not perfect and not my ideal 
solution, would go a long way toward closing these loopholes. I wish to 
personally commend both Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey for their 
bipartisan, and, indeed in many respects, courageous steps to try to 
make this legislation possible for all of us.
  In March of 2004, during the 108th Congress, when Democrats were in 
the minority, Senator McCain and I worked together on bipartisan 
legislation to close the gun show loophole. With his great leadership, 
we passed an amendment 53 to 46, which was one of several successful 
gun safety amendments. Ultimately, the gun lobby defeated the 
underlying bill, a bill it originally supported and identified as a top 
priority. This was because we had managed to pass sensible gun safety 
measures, at least in the amendments to the legislation.
  This is proof that passing sensible legislation to keep guns out of 
the hands of dangerous individuals is possible with bipartisan 
cooperation. We have done it.
  Gun ownership is a fundamental right in this country, but reasonable 
limitations on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity 
ammunition clips are fully consistent with the Second Amendment.
  Indeed, in the 2008 majority opinion in the Heller decision, Justice 
Scalia made clear that the Second Amendment is ``not unlimited'' and is 
not ``a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner 
whatsoever and for whatever purpose.''
  Limiting access to military-style weapons and strengthening 
background checks would help save lives and make our communities safer. 
We also need to improve access to mental and behavioral health care. 
One of the ironies is that more often an individual with mental illness 
is the victim of gun violence or other types of violence than the 
perpetrator of violence. However, it is still important to take any 
opportunity to help strengthen our mental health system.
  This is why I support the Harkin-Alexander amendment which, among its 
many provisions, would include my bipartisan youth suicide prevention 
measure, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act reauthorization, 
legislation which was led very courageously and successfully by our 
former colleague, Senator Gordon Smith. I urge my colleagues to support 
these amendments and to muster the same kind of bipartisan cooperation 
Senator McCain, I, and several others had years ago.
  It is my wish we can reach a sensible consensus. Indeed, an 
overwhelming majority of Americans are demanding this. There is no 
question what the American people want. The question we will settle is 
are we responding to the American people or are we responding to a very 
narrow self-interest. I hope we will respond to the American people.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, this afternoon I, rise to defend the 
Second Amendment to our Constitution. Recent mass killings, such as 
those in Connecticut and Colorado, are the impetus for the gun control 
legislation we are discussing before the Senate now.
  I mourn the victims of these senseless acts of violence carried out 
by serious and disturbed individuals. Unfortunately, this legislation, 
I believe, would do nothing to prevent such tragedies going forward.
  The harsh but unavoidable fact is no amount of government 
intervention can prevent irrational people from doing terrible things. 
Therefore, we should not react to these tragedies in an irrational 
manner in the Senate which would erode a fundamental right of every 
citizen in the United States.
  The Second Amendment states, as you well know, unambiguously, ``The 
right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'' It makes plain to 
criminals their targets have the right to defend themselves, their 
families, and their property.
  Since criminals do not follow the law and never will follow the law, 
new restrictions will hinder only the law-abiding among us, I am 
afraid. Make no mistake, this is only the first assault on the Second 
Amendment. More background checks today, gun registration

[[Page S2726]]

tomorrow, who knows what will follow after this. Congress should reject 
it all now.
  My opposition to the legislation before the Senate is not abstract. 
Gun control laws have proven ineffective in reducing violent crime. As 
gun ownership in the United States has increased over recent years, 
nationwide crime rates have decreased. Nonpartisan studies, however, 
show no correlation between the now-expired assault weapons ban and the 
decrease in crime rates. Still, violence has spiked in certain parts of 
this country.
  In Chicago, for example, murder rates are soaring. Yet Chicago has 
among the most Draconian and restrictive gun laws in the country. These 
trends have developed not because of gun control legislation but in 
spite of it.
  Despite this failed record, the legislation before the Senate pushes 
more of the same. This so-called compromise amendment would do nothing 
but compromise our Second Amendment rights.
  First, it would drastically expand background checks for gun 
purchases in an inconsistent and unenforceable manner. The legislation 
mandates background checks for all firearms purchases at gun shows 
between two nonlicensed parties. Yet it is unclear whether the same 
buyer and seller would have to run a background check if they meet at a 
gun show but wait until it is over to execute the sale.
  The legislation also mandates background checks for any gun purchase 
pursuant to an advertisement by a buyer or seller. This would be 
extremely difficult to enforce under a narrow definition of what 
constitutes an advertisement. Under the extremely broad definition 
provided in this amendment, enforcement would be virtually impossible.
  Will determined criminals not simply avoid gun shows and 
advertisements? We can bet they would. I believe we should not restrict 
transactions between law-abiding citizens, especially when we will not 
prevent such transactions between criminals.
  This amendment would also allow health care providers to place a 
patient in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System 
database. I believe this would violate patients' privacy and remove 
their Second Amendment rights based on subjective judgments and without 
any clear guidelines or due process.
  It is unclear whether a patient must be informed of the health care 
provider's decision to submit his or her private health information to 
authorities. This provision could very well discourage those who need 
mental health services from seeking them for fear their constitutional 
rights may be abrogated. We should not put doctors and patients in this 
  In addition, the FBI estimates enforcing these background checks 
would cost approximately $100 million annually. At the same time, this 
amendment would prohibit the FBI from charging federally licensed 
firearms dealers to run these background checks.
  To carry this out if it were to become law, the money must come from 
someone. Will it be gun buyers or taxpayers? Either way, I oppose it.
  Again, this legislation is just the first step. It would lay the 
groundwork for even more Draconian and ineffective gun control 
measures. As one of the Justice Department's leading crime researchers 
has stated, the government's ability to implement near-universal 
background checks would rely, at least in part, on ``requiring gun 
registration.'' I oppose that.

  Mr. President, there are as many guns in this country perhaps as 
there are people, according to some estimates. That is more than 300 
million people, and there are probably over 300 million guns. The 
bureaucracy we have today cannot track all of the people illegally 
residing in this country, why then would anyone believe the bureaucracy 
could track all of the guns illegally possessed in this country? And 
who would pay for that? Would gun owners again be subject to still more 
fees or taxes for exercising their Second Amendment rights?
  Who would have access to this so-called registry? Would the public 
know who owns guns and who does not? Who would ensure this sensitive 
information is protected and not used for political purposes, and how?
  We do not know the answers to these questions, but we do know that 
such restrictions will not prevent the next tragedy. We should not 
start down this dangerous road. What should we do instead? I have a few 
  Instead of undermining the Second Amendment, Congress should focus 
its attention on three areas: First, I believe robust prosecution of 
violent criminals is the best deterrent to violent crime. Prosecutors 
should punish to the fullest extent of the law individuals who misuse 
guns, knives, or anything else to commit violent crimes. There should 
be no leniency whatsoever for the commission of such crimes.
  Secondly, we should examine and address any deficiencies--and we have 
them--in our mental health system. Time and again we have seen a strong 
connection between mental illness and violent crime. We should not fall 
prey to the delusion government can prevent all bad things, nor should 
we assume simply throwing money at the problem will solve it. We 
should, instead, do a better job of helping those with mental illnesses 
before their problems spiral out of control.
  Third, I would suggest we should weigh the impact of violence in the 
entertainment industry on violent crime in this Nation. Many video 
games, movies, television shows, and songs contain graphic depictions 
of violence. Common sense tells us that glorified violence can distort 
impressionable minds, particularly those afflicted with mental 
illnesses or mental challenges. Still, many in Hollywood defend the 
First Amendment to the Constitution with the same wild-eyed zeal they 
trash the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
  I stand here to defend the Bill of Rights in its entirety.
  In closing, let me mention that since January 1 of this year I have 
held public meetings in each of my State's 67 counties. Overall, my 
constituents are deeply concerned about any infringement upon their 
Second Amendment rights. They are concerned about their ability to 
protect themselves, they are concerned about their ability to protect 
their families, and they are concerned about their ability to protect 
their property.
  They are concerned that the activities, traditions, and way of life 
they have long and peaceably enjoyed, and which are protected by the 
Constitution, could possibly be outlawed. They are concerned they may 
unknowingly run afoul of a new gun control law because the proposals 
before us are so illogical and inconsistent and contrary to common 
  I believe this bill is an overall legislative misfire. I have 
outlined what I believe would constitute a clear-eyed response to the 
situation at hand. I will continue to vigorously oppose gun control 
legislation, and I will continue to stand firm in defense of the Second 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Would the good Senator from Alabama yield?
  Mr. SHELBY. I will be glad to yield for a question, but my time is 
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I respect the Senator's views. He is a 
true friend. But on the bill Senator Toomey and I have been working on, 
if I could point out and ask the Senator's concerns and consideration 
about that, if he would, especially relating to the Second Amendment. I 
am a defender, I think Senator Toomey is, as is the Senator, a defender 
of the Second Amendment.
  In our amendment we basically strengthen and enforce and promote it. 
Here is what we have: We allow dealers to sell guns at gun shows in 
different States, which they can't do now. We allow Active-Duty 
soldiers to buy guns in their home States, which they can't do now. We 
fix a legal discrepancy that will allow people in transit across the 
State to carry an unloaded and locked weapon. And we explicitly state 
the bill does not expand the authority of the ATF. Plus we make it a 
penalty by a felony and 15 years imprisonment by registration.
  Mr. SHELBY. May I respond?
  Mr. MANCHIN. Absolutely.
  Mr. SHELBY. I would tell the distinguished Senator and my friend from 
West Virginia, for whom I have a lot of respect, that I totally 
disagree. This is the first step in the erosion of our

[[Page S2727]]

rights under the Second Amendment. That is why I oppose this 
legislation. I totally and fundamentally disagree with the author.
  Mr. MANCHIN. I respect the Senator's position on this, and I thank 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to be recognized 
to talk about the pending amendments for about 8 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is recognized.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, this debate we are having about gun 
control legislation and how to solve a difficult problem is a good 
debate. Quite frankly, I never understood why we would not want to have 
this debate. This is an issue where most Americans very much would like 
to see something of substance accomplished. But the goal is to do 
something of substance that will address the underlying problem, not 
just pass legislation, quite frankly, in a more feel-good category.
  Senators Manchin and Toomey are very sincere. I know they are trying 
to fix a problem that is seen by a lot of people to be a problem, and I 
understand where they are coming from. But I want to take my time to 
talk about two things.
  The President has given a lot of speeches about this issue, very 
emotional in nature--that State of the Union Speech--and he has 
literally traveled all over the country to sort of gin up support for 
three things: a universal background check, the banning of assault 
weapons, assault rifles, and limiting magazine sizes. At the end of the 
day, the Senate will take up these measures individually and somewhat 
collectively, and here is what I think will happen.

  I think when it comes to the magazine size limitation, that is not 
going to pass the Senate simply because there are thousands, if not 
millions, of magazines beyond 10 rounds out in the current marketplace. 
From a criminal point of view, this legislation wouldn't affect them 
one bit. They will get a magazine of whatever size they would like. It 
would affect law-abiding citizens and put them in a bad spot.
  The best way to interrupt a shooter in a Newtown situation is not to 
limit the magazine size but to have a security officer in the school 
who can confront the shooter before they get to the kids. Don't kid 
yourself that having to reload is going to be the answer to 
interrupting a crazy person bent on destroying the lives of innocent 
people. In a school environment, in my view, the best way is to 
confront that shooter with a trained law enforcement officer. The 
Grassley-Cruz-Graham amendment has money put back into the system--
money President Obama cut out of school safety, some $300 million, at a 
time when that was very unwise. So we would restore that money.
  Two months ago, maybe a little longer, there was a young woman at 
home in the Atlanta suburbs with her twin daughters--I believe they 
were twin daughters--and there was a home invasion by someone who had 
just been released from jail. She took her children up on the second 
floor and hid in the closet. She got on the cell phone and called her 
husband asking what to do. She grabbed a .38 revolver. The guy broke 
into the closet, she fired six times, emptying the gun and hitting him 
five to six times. He was still able to get up and drive away.
  Approximately one-third of the assaults in this country are committed 
by more than one person. In the hands of that mother, six shots were 
not enough. It wouldn't bother me one bit if she had 30 rounds. In the 
hands of a mentally unstable person or convicted felon, one bullet is 
too many. That is why I oppose the magazine size limit. It does not 
address the problem.
  Now, as to the AR-15, there are 4 million of these rifles available. 
It is one of the most popular selling sportsman's rifles in the 
country. I have been in the military for almost 30 years. It is similar 
to the M16, but it is a semiautomatic, not a fully automatic rifle. The 
reason I own one is because I like to shoot. I am not going to bother 
anybody. I am not going to do anything wrong with the gun. I passed the 
background check to get the rifle.
  Why an AR-15? Vice President Biden, who is a good friend, has 
suggested a double-barrel shotgun is the best way to defend a home in 
case you find a lawless environment. We have had hurricanes, 
earthquakes, or other natural disasters where law enforcement is not 
available to families because the system is broken. They can't call, 
they can't travel, there has been a catastrophic event, such as Sandy, 
Hugo or Katrina. These things happen in the real world where law and 
order breaks down.
  The Vice President was talking to a young man who was worried about 
this, and he said: You don't need an AR-15, you need a double-barrel 
shotgun. That is the best way to defend your home.
  To be honest with you, I disagree. If there is a roving gang in the 
community, and there are three homes, one without a gun, one with a 
double-barrel shotgun, and one with an AR-15, they are going to pick 
the AR-15 last. Now, you may not agree with me, but I think that makes 
sense as a self-defense weapon. So that is why the assault ban is not 
going to pass.
  Less than 2 or 3 percent of all murders in this country are committed 
with a rifle of any kind. Most murders committed in this country, 
violent acts, with a gun, are committed with handguns.
  At the end of the day, the magazine limitation is not going to pass 
because it doesn't address the problem. In the hands of a mother, six 
rounds is not enough; in the hands of a criminal, one is too many. The 
AR-15, 4 million guns available; the assault weapon is a very popular 
selling gun, and I think under Heller that type of weapon would be 
protected. It is not the gun you own, it is who owns it.
  At the end of the day, the universal background check is not going to 
make it. Senators Manchin and Toomey are trying to find a solution in a 
smaller way. I appreciate that. But here is my concern about background 
  Last year, 80,000 people failed a background check, and 9,000 of the 
people who failed the background check were convicted felons on the run 
from the law. Yet only 44 people were prosecuted out of 80,000. Of 
those 9,000, I can't find one case where the law enforcement community 
found out a criminal on the run from the law tried to buy a gun and 
they went and picked him up. We at least ought to be catching dumb 
criminals. If they are dumb enough to fill out a background check while 
they are on the run, the system ought to catch them.
  Let me tell you of another problem we found. In 2005, there was a 
young lady named Alice Boland, who is a paranoid schizophrenic, a very 
troubled young lady with a history of mental illness, who pled not 
guilty by reason of insanity for trying to kill the President of the 
United States and a Secret Service agent. The threats were made at the 
Canadian border, and she eventually came to South Carolina with her 
  She was adjudicated by a Federal court, pled not guilt by reason of 
insanity, and the plea was accepted. She was confined to a mental 
health institution by the court. When she got out, she went home, and 
in February of this year she went to Walterboro, a small community near 
Charleston, and bought a .22 semiautomatic pistol. She filled out the 
background check, and her plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was 
not entered into the background check system. The fact she was confined 
to a mental health institution by a Federal court didn't make it into 
the background check system.
  She bought the gun, went to a private school--Ashley Hall in 
Charleston--went to the office area where the staff was located, pulled 
out the gun, and the gun didn't fire. Thank God it didn't. But our 
background system doesn't catch people like her.
  There are 14,000 people in South Carolina who have been adjudicated a 
danger to themselves and others by a competent court under due process 
who are not in the Federal background system. There may be up to 1 
million people.
  The Grassley-Cruz-Graham bill will fix that problem. It would make 
sure before you get a law enforcement grant from the Federal 
Government, the State that requests the grant has to enter into the 
Federal database people who have been held mentally a danger to 
themselves or others by a competent court. It looks like we could at 
least do that to get thousands, if not up to 1 million people, who have 
been deemed to be a danger to themselves or others

[[Page S2728]]

into the background check system before we expand it.
  So I support Grassley-Cruz-Graham. I think it has a comprehensive 
approach. It has an antitrafficking component to it. It has a task 
force that will have $50 million available to the Federal law 
enforcement community to go after people who fail a background check or 
who are felons. I think it is a much better approach than the other 
legislation on the floor.

  So I will be opposing Manchin-Toomey. I appreciate the spirit in 
which it has been offered, but I think defending the background check 
system is not the problem. Making the background check system capture 
mental health adjudications and doing something about a felon who fails 
a background check is a wiser approach rather than expanding a broken 
  When we only have 44 people out of 80,000 prosecuted, something is 
wrong. Why create more paperwork where nobody is going to do anything 
about it. Let's focus on the problem.
  So I think this has been a good debate for the Senate. When it is all 
said and done, after a reasoned debate, the President's proposal--more 
emotional than practical--of a universal background check, which would 
have included a private sale, no matter what he said, is not going to 
carry the day in the Senate.
  We should be going after the criminal, not the law-abiding citizen, 
and all of us should want to make sure that those who are a danger to 
themselves and others do not have access to a weapon. That is a 
commonsense approach to a hard problem.
  I look forward to the votes today and the votes to come because this 
is an issue which should be debated. I am not afraid to voice the 
courage of my convictions. Everyone in this body is sincere about their 
approach to the problem, but I think at the end of the day what is 
going to prevail is common sense.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, would the Senator from South Carolina 
yield for just 1 second?
  Mr. GRAHAM. Absolutely.
  Mr. MANCHIN. I appreciate so much the Senator's sincere approach.
  The only thing I would say is that my and Senator Toomey's approach 
and what we are doing is not a universal background check and would not 
touch the private sector.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Absolutely. It is taking a more limited approach. I 
totally understand it.
  Mr. MANCHIN. I thank the Senator, and I appreciate it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

                        Boston Marathon Bombing

  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I rise today to give my first speech from 
the floor of the Senate. I rise with a heart heavy with mourning, but I 
also rise with the gratitude of a fearless people--gratitude for the 
Nation's prayers, strength, and resolve.
  Two days ago there was a cowardly and despicable terrorist attack in 
the city of Boston. Two times blasts from hidden bombs rocked the 
streets of Copley Square. Two times courageous Bostonians ran toward 
danger to help their fellow citizens. Three were killed, more than 170 
were wounded, and many remain in critical condition.
  Two days ago was Patriots' Day in Massachusetts.
  Patriots' Day is one of our most cherished holidays. We celebrate the 
lives of ordinary men and women who, in the hour of reckless darkness 
and peril and need, rose before dawn in Lexington and Concord and let 
the world know that liberty and freedom, a government of the people, 
would be established on this Earth. We celebrate Patriots' Day with 
reenactments and pancake breakfasts, with barbecues and baseball, and 
with the Boston Marathon.
  The marathon is always the greatest of celebrations. We love the 
speed of the winners, we love the endurance of the participants, and we 
love the passion of the supporters, but, as the Scripture says, ``The 
race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong . . . but time and 
chance happen to them all.''
  To all the families who lost their children; to all those who were 
injured and wear the scars of tragedy; to all the citizen heroes, the 
first responders, the healers who acted with courage in the midst of 
chaos; to all those who bore witness at Boylston Street; and to the 
people of Boston and Massachusetts: No one can replace what we have 
lost. No one can relieve the weight of our sorrow. But here today and 
in the days and weeks ahead, wherever we are, we will grieve together, 
hurt together, and pray together.
  Today I rise to remember the lives of those we have lost, to support 
those who survived, and to honor those who served.
  Today we remember Martin Richard, an 8-year-old who, like third 
graders everywhere, spent time drawing pictures, a little boy who loved 
to play soccer, hockey, and baseball in his neighborhood in Dorchester. 
We also pray for his sister and his mother to recover from their 
  We remember Krystle Campbell, who grew up in Medford and never missed 
the marathon. Lively and happy, Krystle was always there for others. 
When her grandmother was recovering from an operation, Krystle moved in 
to help her because that is the kind of young woman she was.
  We remember Lu Lingzi, who came to the United States from China to 
study statistics. She loved Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and she posted to 
her friends that morning that she had a wonderful breakfast. Her 
passing ignites the world in our common humanity.
  We will miss them.
  To those of you who were injured on April 15, know that we are here 
for you. Every year during the marathon we are one family. We cheer for 
each other and we carry each other across finish lines. When tragedy 
strikes, we are also one family. We hurt together and we help together. 
In the weeks and months ahead your struggles will be our struggles, 
your pain our pain, your efforts our efforts. We will be together 
through sorrow and anger, rehabilitation and recovery. We will be 
together because we are one family.
  To those who served, we honor you. In ancient times the heroes of 
myth and legend were part mortal, part god, for it was thought that no 
mortal man or woman could truly be great. This week the people of 
Boston and the people of this country prove the ancients wrong. Our 
heroes are our friends and our neighbors. They work in Copley and at 
Children's, and when they were called to act, they answered.
  There was the man in a cowboy hat who came to Copley to hand out 
American flags in memory of his sons. When the bombs went off, he raced 
to help a young man who lost both his legs, applying a makeshift 
tourniquet, lifting the man into a wheelchair, and navigating him 
through the chaos so he could get medical attention.
  There was the man who realized that spectators would be trapped by 
the barricades and started to remove them, only to be hit by the second 
blast. Bandaged and burned, he told me yesterday that he was glad and 
he celebrated not because he lived but because he helped.
  There were the marathoners who ran past the finish line to Mass 
General, unconcerned with their own sweat and tears but resolved to 
donate their blood.
  There were the brave firefighters, police officers, EMS, and guards, 
coordinating the first response and bringing protection in the wake of 
  There were world-class hospitals, doctors, nurses, and support staff 
who refused to accept fatigue and worked through the night.
  There were friends, strangers, neighbors, and shopkeepers who gave a 
home to everyone who was stranded, food to those who were hungry, and 
comfort to all who needed it.
  Across this Nation, whether on Facebook or PeopleFinder, Monday, the 
whole country was connected to Boston. Our city, our Commonwealth, and 
our country have been through a grim ordeal. We have seen terror 
before, but we will not be afraid, and we will not let it change us. 
Bostonians are tough. We are fighters, and we will not be broken.
  Yesterday I met a woman who is recovering in the hospital. Badly 
injured, clearly in pain, she focused on getting back to work. She said 
that people counted on her, so she would be back soon. That is the 
strength and resilience of Boston. Our spirit is indomitable, our will 
is unyielding. Our Governor and our mayor have demonstrated unwavering 
  The men and women of law enforcement are hard at work. In the coming

[[Page S2729]]

hours, days, and weeks, when we learn more from their investigations, 
we will identify who did this, and we will bring them to justice.
  In times of calamity, in times such as these, we must remember the 
words of John Winthrop, who counseled the founders of Boston:

       [t]o do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. 
     For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one 
     man. . . . We must delight in each other; make others' 
     conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor 
     and suffer together. . . . So shall we keep the unity of the 
     spirit in the bond of peace.

  May God bless those who have gone and leave them at peace. May He 
support those who survive and help them carry forward. May He protect 
those who serve their fellow man. And may He always watch over the 
people of Boston, of Massachusetts, and of these United States of