Patrick Leahy on Gun Control
Democratic Sr Senator (VT)
Heller case established a fundamental individual right
Senator Leahy (D,VT): Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held the Second Amendment guarantees to Americans the individual right to keep and bear arms. I am a gun owner, as are many people in Vermont, and I agreed with
the Heller decision. And just yesterday in McDonald v. the City of Chicago, the Court decided the Second amendment right established in Heller is a fundamental right that applies to the States as well as the Federal Government. Is there any doubt after
the Court's decision in Heller and McDonald that the Second Amendment to the Constitution secures a fundamental right for an individual to own a firearm, use it for self-defense in their home?
SCOTUS nominee Elena KAGAN: There is no doubt, Senator Leahy. That is binding precedent entitled to all the respect of binding precedent in any case. So that is settled law.
Source: ScotusBlog.com on Elana Kagan confirmation hearing
, Jul 9, 2012
Voted YES on banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets.
- The term 'large capacity ammunition feeding device' means a magazine or similar device that has an overall capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition
- It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, or possess a large capacity ammunition feeding device.
- Shall not apply to the possession of any large capacity ammunition feeding device otherwise lawfully possessed before 2013.
- Shall not apply to qualified or retired law enforcement officers.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. BLUMENTHAL: This amendment would ban high-capacity magazines which are used to kill more people more quickly and, in fact, have been used in more than half the mass shootings since 1982. I ask my colleagues to listen to law enforcement, their police, prosecutors who are outgunned by criminals who use these high-capacity magazines. I ask that my colleagues also listen to the families of those killed by people who
used a high-capacity magazine.
Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. GRASSLEY. I oppose the amendment. In 2004, which is the last time we had the large-capacity magazine ban, a Department of Justice study found no evidence banning such magazines has led to a reduction in gun violence. The study also concluded it is not clear how often the outcomes of the gun attack depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than 10 shots without reloading. Secondly, there is no evidence banning these magazines has reduced the deaths from gun crimes. In fact, when the previous ban was in effect, a higher percentage of gun crime victims were killed or wounded than before it was adopted. Additionally, tens of millions of these magazines have been lawfully owned in this country for decades. They are in common use, not unusually dangerous, and used by law-abiding citizens in self-defense, as in the case of law enforcement.
Reference: Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act;
Bill S.Amdt. 714 to S. 649
; vote number 13-SV103
on Apr 17, 2013
Voted YES on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains.
Congressional Summary:AMENDMENT PURPOSE: To ensure that law abiding Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.
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.
Reference: Wicker Amendment;
Bill S.Amdt.798 to S.Con.Res.13
; vote number 2009-S145
on Apr 2, 2009
Voted YES on prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership.
Amendment SA 2774 to H.R. 2764, the Department of State's International Aid bill: To prohibit the use of funds by international organizations, agencies, and entities (including the United Nations) that require the registration of, or taxes guns owned by citizens of the United States.
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.
Reference: Vitter Amendment to State Dept. Appropriations Bill;
Bill S.Amdt. 2774 to H.R. 2764
; vote number 2007-321
on Sep 6, 2007
Voted NO on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others. Voting YES would:
Reference: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act;
Bill S 397
; vote number 2005-219
on Jul 29, 2005
- Exempt lawsuits brought against individuals who knowingly transfer a firearm that will be used to commit a violent or drug-trafficking crime
- Exempt lawsuits against actions that result in death, physical injury or property damage due solely to a product defect
- Call for the dismissal of all qualified civil liability actions pending on the date of enactment by the court in which the action was brought
- Prohibit the manufacture, import, sale or delivery of armor piercing ammunition, and sets a minimum prison term of 15 years for violations
- Require all licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers who engage in the transfer of handguns to provide secure gun storage or safety devices
Voted NO on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence.
Vote to pass a bill that would block certain civil lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers of firearms and ammunition, mainly those lawsuits aimed at making them liable for gun violence. In this bill, trade groups would also be protected The bill would call for the dismissal of pending lawsuits against the gun industry. The exception would be lawsuits regarding a defect in a weapon or ammunition. It also would provide a 10-year reauthorization of the assault weapons ban which is set to expire in September 2004. The bill would increase the penalties for gun-related violent or drug trafficking crimes which have not resulted in death, to a minimum of 15 years imprisonment. The bill calls for criminal background checks on all firearm transactions at gun shows where at least 75 guns are sold. Exemptions would be made available for dealers selling guns from their homes as well as members-only gun swaps and meets carried out by nonprofit hunting clubs.
Reference: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act;
; vote number 2004-30
on Mar 2, 2004
Voted YES on background checks at gun shows.
Require background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)50; N)50; VP decided YES
Reference: Lautenberg Amdt #362;
Bill S. 254
; vote number 1999-134
on May 20, 1999
Voted NO on more penalties for gun & drug violations.
The Hatch amdt would increase mandatory penalties for the illegal transfer or use of firearms, fund additional drug case prosecutors, and require background check on purchasers at gun shows. [A YES vote supports stricter penalties].
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)48; N)47; NV)5
Reference: Hatch Amendment #344;
Bill S. 254
; vote number 1999-118
on May 14, 1999
Voted NO on loosening license & background checks at gun shows.
Vote to table or kill a motion to require that all gun sales at gun shows be completed by federally licensed gun dealers. Also requires background checks to be completed on buyers and requires gun show promoters to register with the Treasury.
; vote number 1999-111
on May 11, 1999
Voted YES on maintaining current law: guns sold without trigger locks.
Vote to table [kill] an amendment to make it unlawful for gun dealers to sell handguns without providing trigger locks. Violation of the law would result in civil penalties, such as suspension or revocation of the dealer's license, or a fine.
Bill S 2260
; vote number 1998-216
on Jul 21, 1998
Rated C by the NRA, indicating a mixed voting record on gun rights.
Leahy scores C by NRA on pro-gun rights policies
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).
What the Grades Mean:
Source: NRA website 10-NRA on Aug 11, 2010
- A+: A legislator with not only an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues, but who has also made a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment.
- A: Solidly pro-gun candidate including voting record.
- AQ: A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record.
- B: A generally pro-gun candidate; may have opposed some pro-gun reform in the past.
- C: A candidate with a mixed record or positions on gun related issues, who may oppose some pro-gun positions.
- D: An anti-gun candidate who usually supports restrictive gun control legislation. Regardless of public statements, can usually be counted on to vote wrong on key issues.
- F: True enemy of gun owners' rights. A consistent anti-gun candidate.
- ?: Refused to answer the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' rights.
Allow veterans to register unlicensed guns acquired abroad.
Leahy co-sponsored Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act
Source: HR420/S798 11-S0798 on Apr 12, 2011
- Provides a 90-day amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record any firearm acquired before October 31, 1968, by a veteran while a member of the Armed Forces stationed outside the continental United States.
- Grants such an individual limited immunity with respect to the acquisition, possession, transportation, or alteration of such firearm before or concurrent with such registration.
Extends such immunity to a veteran who attempts to register a qualifying firearm outside of the amnesty period if the veteran surrenders the firearm within 30 days after being notified of potential criminal liability for continued possession.
- Transfers each firearm qualifying as a curio or relic which has been forfeited to the United States to the first qualified museum that requests it
- Publishes information identifying each such firearm which is available to be transferred to a museum.
- Makes a prohibition against transfer or possession of a machine-gun inapplicable to museums.
Supports restrictions on right to bear arms.
Leahy supports the CC survey question on Second Amendment
The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Further Restrictions on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms'
The Christian Coalition notes, "You can help make sure that voters have the facts BEFORE they cast their votes. We have surveyed candidates in the most competitive congressional races on the issues that are important to conservatives."
Source: Christian Coalition Survey 16_CC10 on Nov 8, 2016
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