John Kerry on Gun Control
Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President
BUSH: I did think we ought to extend the assault weapons ban and was told the bill was never going to move. I believe law-abiding citizens ought to be able to own a gun. I believe in background checks. The best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.
KERRY: I am a hunter. I’m a gun owner. I’m also a former law enforcement officer. I ran one of the largest district attorney’s offices in America. I know something about prosecuting. Most of the law enforcement agencies wanted that assault weapons ban. They don’t want to go into a drug bust and be facing an AK-47. Because of the president’s decision today, law enforcement officers will walk into a place that will be more dangerous. Terrorists can now come to America, go to a gun show and, without a background check, buy an assault weapon.
A: I don’t think the Democratic Party should be the candidacy of the NRA. And when I was fighting to ban assault weapons in 1992 and 1993, Dean was appealing to the NRA for their endorsement, and he got it. I believe it’s important for us to have somebody who is going to stand up for gun safety in America and make certain that we make our streets safe, our children safe, and not allow people to get assault weapons in America.
KERRY: There’s a story in today’s Washington Post that says that Democrats are going to run away from the issue of gun safety. I don’t think that we can get elected nationally if we are not prepared to stand up against powerful special interests. Too many die each year from guns. I am for the assault weapons ban. I’m for the Brady Bill.
On page 37, between lines 8 and 9, insert the following: "Allowing Amtrak Passengers to Securely Transport Firearms on Passenger Trains.--None of amounts made available in the reserve fund authorized under this section may be used to provide financial assistance for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) unless Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ROGER WICKER (R, MS). This amendment aims to ensure that gun owners and sportsmen are able to transport securely firearms aboard Amtrak trains in checked baggage, a practice that is done thousands of times a day at airports across the country. I emphasize that this amendment deals with checked, secured baggage only. It would return Amtrak to a pre-9/11 practice. It does not deal with carry-on baggage. Unlike the airline industry, Amtrak does not allow the transport of firearms in checked bags. This means that sportsmen who wish to use Amtrak trains for hunting trips cannot do so because they are not allowed to check safely a firearm.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D, NJ): I object to this disruptive amendment offered by the Senator from Mississippi. He wants to enable the carrying of weapons, guns, in checked baggage. One doesn't have to be very much concerned about what we are doing when they look at the history of attacks on railroads in Spain and the UK and such places. This amendment has no place here interrupting the budgetary procedure. The pending amendment is not germane and, therefore, I raise a point of order that the amendment violates section 305(b)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. VITTER: This is a straight funding limitation amendment. Many folks who haven't followed the proceedings on this in the U.N. may ask: What is this all about? Unfortunately, it is about an effort in the United Nations to bring gun control to various countries through that international organization. Unfortunately, that has been an ongoing effort which poses a real threat, back to 1995. In 2001, the UN General Assembly adopted a program of action designed to infringe on second amendment rights. The Vitter amendment simply says we are not going to support any international organization that requires a registration of US citizens' guns or taxes US citizens' guns. If other folks in this Chamber think that is not happening, that it is never going to happen, my reply is simple and straightforward: Great, then this language has no effect. It is no harm to pass it as a failsafe. It has no impact. But, in fact, related efforts have been going on in the U.N. since at least 1995. I hope this can get very wide, bipartisan support, and I urge all my colleagues to support this very fundamental, straightforward amendment.
No opponents spoke against the bill.
Make America the “Safest Big Country” in the World
After climbing relentlessly for three decades, crime rates started to fall in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the public remains deeply concerned about the prevalence of gun violence, especially among juveniles, and Americans still avoid public spaces like downtown retail areas, parks, and even sports facilities.
We need to keep policing “smart” and community-friendly, prohibiting unjust and counterproductive tactics such as racial profiling; focus on preventing as well as punishing crime; pay attention to what happens to inmates and their families after sentencing; use mandatory testing and treatment to break the cycle of drugs and crime; and enforce and strengthen laws against unsafe or illegal guns. Moreover, we need a renewed commitment to equal justice for all, and we must reject a false choice between justice and safety.
Technology can help in many areas: giving police more information on criminal suspects so they do not rely on slipshod, random stop-and-search methods; allowing lower-cost supervision of people on probation or parole; and making it possible to disable and/or trace guns used by unauthorized persons.
Above all, we need to remember that public safety is the ultimate goal of crime policy. Until Americans feel safe enough to walk their neighborhood streets, enjoy public spaces, and send their children to school without fear of violence, we have not achieved public safety.
While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly three million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs.
The following ratings are based on lifetime voting records on gun issues and the results of a questionaire sent to all Congressional candidates; the NRA assigned a letter grade (with A+ being the highest and F being the lowest).
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