Gun debate heats up in Senate budget battle

Gun debate heats up in Senate budget battle
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Gun rights groups are rallying their members behind a series of budget measures aimed at strengthening the Second Amendment and restricting gun control efforts.

As the Senate debates the federal government’s 2016 budget, Republicans and gun advocates are pushing for a number of amendments that would expand concealed-carry laws and block the Obama administration from issuing what opponents call a “backdoor” ban on guns.

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“We expect more gun-related showdowns in the next 72 hours than in the next nine months combined,” the Gun Owners of America wrote in a message to supporters asking them to call their senators about these issues. 

The Senate is looking at a number of various pro-gun amendments that would expand concealed carry laws and block future gun control initiatives.

For instance, an amendment from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 MORE (R-Utah) would block “any legislation that would place further restrictions on the right of law-abiding Americans to own a firearm,” according to the senator’s office.

The amendment would block gun control measures seeking to ban semi-automatic weapons and magazines, and create a national gun registry, unless they have support from two-thirds of senators.

The recent attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ban certain types of armor-piercing ammunition used in AR-15 rifles is still fresh in the minds of many Republican lawmakers.

The ATF dropped its bid to ban this high-powered ammunition earlier this month, but Republicans and gun rights groups are concerned the agency may try to revive the ban in the future.

In response, Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency MORE (R-Okla.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom Line Bottom Line Top 5 races to watch in 2019 MORE (R-La.) are pushing an amendment that would prohibit the ATF from attempting to ban bullets that are primarily used by hunters and sportsmen.

The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights are both actively lobbying lawmakers in favor of these measures and urging their members to do the same.

“President Obama and his anti-gun allies are worried they don’t have the votes to outright ban guns, so they’re coming after ammo,” Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, wrote in a message to supporters.

“Obama’s ammo ban can be added to the long list of attacks on our Second Amendment rights during his presidency,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Congress must move forward on measure dealing with fentanyl GOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees MORE (R-Tenn.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) are offering an amendment that would stop the Fish and Wildlife Service from cracking down on antique guns containing ivory.

Alexander offered similar legislation last summer.

The federal government prohibits the trade of fresh ivory from endangered African elephants and rhinos, but the lawmakers argue that antique ivory used in handguns should be exempt from the rules.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of making a “backdoor” attempt to ban guns through these regulations from the Fish and Wildlife Service and ATF.

Inhofe is also offering other pro-gun amendments prohibiting the Obama administration from establishing a national firearms registry and barring the government from pressuring banks to close gun shops' bank accounts.

The National Rifle Association did not respond to requests for comment.