FAIRBANKS—All four amendments addressing the purchasing of guns failed in the U.S. Senate on Monday, with Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan voting for the two GOP amendments and against the two Democratic proposals.
The amendments went down mostly along party lines.
The voting took place just more than a week after 49 people were killed and 53 more people were wounded by a person who opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, allowed the four amendments to appear for a vote after a 15-hour filibuster by Demoracts on Thursday.
Two of the amendments focused on the sale of guns to suspected terrorists. The Democrats' proposal would have given the Justice Department power to prevent the sale of guns to anyone who has been on the federal terror watch list in the last five years. The Republican proposal, however, would have given the U.S. attorney general the power to block a sale for up to 72 hours and then to prevent the sale if the government can show probable cause the purchaser is a known or suspected terrorist.
The other Democratic amendment would have required background checks for every gun purchase, not just those that take place in stores that are federally licensed sellers. The other Republican amendment would have added funding for the background check system without changing it.
Following the mass shooting in Orlando, the News-Miner asked members of Alaska's congressional delegation to clarify their stances on potential pieces of firearm legislation. Both senators indicated strong opposition to new firearms sales requirements.
"Each and every time a community experiences a tragic mass shooting, the gun control lobby recycles the same divisive proposals that were rejected in previous years," Murkowski wrote in an email response. "Law-abiding gun owners are not to blame for the events in Orlando, and none of the solutions put forward by gun control advocates would have prevented that tragedy or any other of the recent string of mass tragedies."
A spokesman from Sullivan's office said the discussion should not be about guns at all but rather about hate.
"(Sullivan) wants to reiterate that hate killed our fellow citizens in Florida, specifically a hate-filled ideology that is intent on destroying all that is good about our country — our diversity, our freedom and our Constitution," Sullivan's spokesman Mike Anderson wrote.
Anderson said that according to Sullivan, the best way to deal with the issue of gun violence in the United States would be to defeat ISIS.
Murkowski took a different tack from her colleague, instead focusing on mental health and empowering local law enforcement.
Since taking office in 2002, Murkowski has repeatedly voted against expanding background checks or restricting certain firearms sales. When the federal assault weapons ban came up for renewal in 2004, she opposed it. More recently, she has consistently voted against attempts to require background checks for people purchasing guns from private sellers.
Sullivan, who was elected in 2014, has also opposed any attempts to expand background checks or add to firearms sale requirements.
Contact staff writer Weston Morrow at 459-7520. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMschools.