Gun-control bids blocked
Gun-control bids blocked
From no-fly names to foreign felons, McCarthy measures on blocking buyers fail to make cut in House
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BY J. JIONI PALMER
May 19, 2005
WASHINGTON -- It's common sense that a person barred from flying on a commercial plane because of suspected terror links should not be able to buy a gun, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy said, and Tuesday she offered an amendment to a Homeland Security funding bill that would stop such purchases.
But that measure and five others offered by McCarthy, including one that would prevent people convicted of felonies in foreign courts from owning firearms, failed to get the nod yesterday from the powerful Rules Committee, which decides what does and does not get debated on the House floor.
"We're checking the shoes of 80-year-old grandmothers, but right now if you're on the no-fly list, you can still buy a gun," said McCarthy (D-Mineola), who is casting her signature issue, reducing gun violence, as one critical to the safety of the country.
A spokeswoman for the committee said it selected about a dozen amendments, from more than 90 offered, that best "covered the different issues raised by the members."
Andrew Arulanandam, the National Rifle Association's public affairs director, said he could not comment specifically on McCarthy's amendments. However, speaking generally, he said the amendments were deeply, conceptually flawed.
Arulanandam said barring people from buying firearms because they are on a no-fly list could cause law-abiding citizens to "be denied their civil rights." He said people have been put on the list by mistake.
"No one in the country, with the exception of a handful of people, knows the process of how to get on the list or off the list," he said, noting that the name of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) once appeared on a no-fly list. It was later removed.
Likewise, Arulanandam said, preventing people from buying firearms if they've been convicted of felonies abroad would be unworkable because standards vary around the globe.
"In certain cultures, the very act of being a missionary is a serious crime," he said.
While some of McCarthy's amendments were not immediately germane to the homeland security bill - such as closing the gun-show loophole that allows purchasers to avoid background checks and reinstating the assault-weapons ban - their outright rejection is illustrative of how inhospitable the climate is in Congress for any type of gun control legislation, political analysts and lawmakers of both parties said.
"It's an issue right now that I would say there is no great enthusiasm for on either side," said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who also has introduced a "no-fly/no buy" bill.
Democrats have been skittish on gun control out of an unfounded concern that it was a loser for them, said Robert Zimmerman, a member of the Democratic National Committee from Great Neck.
McCarthy said she's prepared to keep on fighting.
"Though I work on a lot of issues, I know I'm here because of the gun issue. And I'm not going to give up."