Gun Control Debate 2013: Will a GOP Filibuster On Guns End Up Hurting the Party Big Time in 2014?


This week, as President Obama was holding an emotional rally at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, pleading with Congress to act on gun control legislation, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell joined the growing group of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul, who plan on filibustering such legislation. Addressing the crowd, which was gathered 45 miles from where the 20 young victims of Newtown were killed, the president asked, "What’s more important? Our children or an 'A' grade from the gun lobby?" The crowd responded passionately and fiercely, "We want a vote!"

McConnell is now the 14th Senate Republican to join a task force committed to filibustering Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill S.649, despite their personal victory of having defeated a "renewed ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines from the main bill." With a possible vote happening as soon as this Thursday, McConnell's recent move towards filibuster is an added hurdle for Democrats as they sprint towards comprehensive reform for gun laws.

The Democrats aren’t alone in their corner, however. Mayor Bloomberg and his grassroots organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have recently borrowed the grading system the National Rifle Association uses to gauge lawmakers' stance on gun rights. The system Mayors Against Illegal Guns will be using is essentially the same, however they will be grading lawmakers' stance on gun control. Backing them up is President Obama’s campaign movement, Organizing for Action, which uses the same grassroots strategy the president used to win the election to accomplish more of the president’s promises in his second term. Already, OFA has begun placing ads on Facebook and major search engines which urge citizens to contact their representatives and ask them to support universal background checks. 

The Democrats aren't the only ones fighting against a filibuster, however. This weekend Senator John McCain released a statement that discouraged a filibuster against Senator Reid’s bill. McCain stated, "The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand ... What are we afraid of?"

If the Senate does not invoke cloture (which would mean there would have to be a vote in order to end debate on S.649), and the filibuster occurred, the legislation could be killed and progress in gun control legislation could be hindered significantly. 

While Senate Republicans prepare for the 2014 midterm elections, believing all the while that filibustering could save them from losing their seats, this filibuster could wind up hurting the Republican party as a whole, especially when the party is hunkering down and getting to work on re-branding their image as more inclusive. With 9 in 10 Americans supporting universal background checks, a move like this filibuster could push away centrists and independent voters that might have been swayed in 2014.