Tea Party Republican senators Rand Paul (KY) and Ted Cruz (TX) are planning to filibuster the motion to proceed to debate on gun legislation. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) obtained by Politico, the senators, along with Mike Lee (R-UT), make no mention of the more than 31,000 gun deaths per year in the United States — or Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine and other mass shootings that occur with alarming frequency.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ rights to self-defense. It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.
We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.
Since Reid and his colleagues did not reform the filibuster when they had the chance, there is the possibility of a silent filibuster instead of the 13-hour public rant Paul recently went on against drones. The Huffington Post explains that “under Senate rules, if Reid can’t get broad bipartisan support to move to debate a bill, he needs unanimous consent. Paul and Cruz are threatening to withhold that consent, which launches a silent filibuster.”
Following Easter-Passover recess, Reid plans to introduce a base bill containing universal background checks and increased federal penalties for gun trafficking. He then plans to allow amendment votes on an assault weapons ban and limit on high-capacity magazines.
A Reid spokesman responded to the letter by saying that “while this threat is entirely unsurprising, it’s outrageous that these senators are unwilling to even engage in a debate over gun violence in America. No matter your opinion on this issue, we should all be able to agree with President Obama when he said that the children and teachers of Newtown, along with all other Americans who have been victims of gun violence, at least deserve a vote.”
AP Photo/Aron Heller, File