Senate clips gun rights, rejects concealed-weapons measure

The decision represents the first time this year that the Senate has voted against expanding gun rights.

Harry Hamburg/AP
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington June 23.

Today, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed Americans with concealed weapons permits to carry their firearms across state lines. It was a rare rebuke to the gun-rights movement, which has exerted growing clout on Capitol Hill, and begins to define where Congress will draw the line on gun owners.

This is the fourth major gun issue the Senate has faced this year. Three previous amendments that expanded the rights of gun owners have all passed, including the most recent bill which allows loaded weapons in national parks.

But for a pivotal number of senators, today's amendment was too ambitious.

Opponents of the bill, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R) of South Dakota, argue that it would infringe on the rights of states and cities to set their own laws on gun control. "The Thune amendment would invite chaos in our cities," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York told the New York Times.

States with strict permitting laws could have seen their requirements negated, as gun holders could simply apply for permits in states with looser requirements.

"This measure, if it had passed, would have done more to threaten the safety of Americans than anything since the repeal of the assault-weapons ban," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York. "It would have created havoc for law enforcement and endangered the safety of millions of Americans."

With the amendment's defeat, gun-control advocates hope to begin to reverse their losing record in the Senate.

But the amendment was only was only two votes shy of the 60 required for it to become law. Moreover, today's vote confirmed that Democrats remain divided on gun-related issues. Twenty democrats voted to allow concealed weapons across state lines while 35 voted against the amendment.

"It was extremely close," Sen. Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois told the Huffington Post after the vote. "But I do believe we have broken the momentum."


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