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The GOP's latest filibuster threat: Gun control
Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee say they'll block any new restrictions on gun ownership
 
Rand Paul won plaudits for his last filibuster. Can he do it again?
Rand Paul won plaudits for his last filibuster. Can he do it again? Alex Wong/Getty Image

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) got a lot of mileage out of his 13-hour, old-fashioned filibuster of John Brennan's confirmation as the new CIA director. Yes, Paul failed to stop the nomination, but he did call plenty of attention to the Obama administration's use of armed drones. And now Paul has another target — gun control.

Paul, along with fellow Tea Party-linked senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) is hand-delivering a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday, threatening to do whatever it takes to block any new restrictions on gun ownership. Reid plans to bring up legislation in the next few weeks that would crack down on interstate gun-trafficking and require background checks on all gun buyers. He dropped a call for banning sales of military-style, semiautomatic assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, but said he'd let lawmakers pitch them as amendments.

With his last filibuster, Paul undeniably tapped into deep misgivings about the drone problem, winning praise from members of both parties. He and Cruz and Lee might find that this stunt, however, is going to "blow up in their mugs, says Prairie Weather. Because on guns, these guys are well outside the mainstream.

Underneath the public's continuing horror following the Sandy Hook shooting may well be an overwhelming feeling that "we're fed up" with the damn NRA and its co-dependents. Reasonable gun restrictions look tame compared to the indignity of another filibuster in the Senate — and particularly if it succeeds in burying sensible prerequisites for legal gun ownership. [Prairie Weather]

Many gun-rights advocates, however, are glad Paul and Co. are picking this fight. "This is actually a brilliant move," says Katie Pavlich at Townhall. If nothing else, it will call attention to the gun-control positions of vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in 2014.

Reid has already had the ability to protect Democrats from voting on the assault weapons ban, but a filibuster on criminalization legislation would force Reid to either try and stop the talking, which will bring attention to gun control efforts of vulnerable Democrats, or will be forced to allow a filibuster to continue, preventing a vote on the legislation. [Townhall]

Reid might actually welcome GOP obstruction, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "A filibuster would play into his strategy to paint the GOP as a party hijacked by its extremist backbenchers." Reid probably thinks a filibuster will help Democrats in 2014, as the bill as it stands doesn't contain the controversial assault-weapon ban — just the far more popular expansion of background checks. This could also give him "fodder to revisit filibuster reform." Plus, he'll eventually get his vote anyway, as old-school talking filibusters can't go on forever.

In the end, though, the Senate version won't go anywhere even if it does get a floor vote. The House will not pass any version that requires firearm registrations, which is what Senate Democrats want to pass. A filibuster that focuses on that narrow issue may raise its profile in the same way that the previous filibuster did for drones, but it’s questionable whether that will move the needle — or whether it even needs to do so. [Hot Air]

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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