White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday criticized three Senate Republicans who have threatened to filibuster Senate gun control legislation.
Carney said a filibuster would be “unfortunate” and would send the wrong message to the families of gun violence victims.
GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah), and Ted Cruz (Texas) threatened to filibuster the bill in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that argued it was an infringement of Second Amendment rights. The bill would expand background checks and penalties on straw purchases of firearms.
The senators pledged to “oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.”
“The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens' right to self-defense. It speaks to history's lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history's warning about the oppression of a government that tries,” they wrote.
Carney dismissed any suggestion that the proposed legislation would violate Second Amendment rights.
“As an absolute matter of fact, in my view, and, I think, many others', including constitutional experts, there's not a single measure in this package of proposals the president has put forward that, in any way, violates the Constitution,” Carney said. “And in fact they reflect the president's commitment to our Second Amendment rights.”
Carney added that the measures in the Senate gun bill, which doesn't include controversial provisions that would limit the sale of some military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, enjoyed broad support among voters.
“Closing gun show loopholes, that's an idea that has something like 90 percent support in the United States,” he said, referring to private sales that don't currently require background checks.
Carney sidestepped when asked if the White House believed it had the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster, saying President Obama “certainly hopes” the upper chamber will pass the bill.
He also said Obama has been lobbying members of Congress behind the scenes.
“He — and that — will continue, as will our staff interaction with Congress on these issues. And you'll continue to hear the president, in public, discuss the need to move forward on these important measures,” Carney said.