Five gun control measures, including one that would have banned gun sales to persons suspected of having links to terrorist groups, have been rejected by the powerful House Rules Committee, leaving their sponsor scratching her head over Congress' homeland security priorities.
"We're checking the shoes of 80-year-old grandmothers, but right now if you're on the no-fly list, you can still buy a gun," said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-New York, 4th), who had sponsored the gun control measure as an amendment to the 2006 Homeland Security funding bill.
Another of McCarthy's proposed amendments, a measure banning gun sales to persons convicted of felonies in foreign countries, was also rejected by the Rules Committee, thus preventing the amendments from being considered by the full House.
In a related Newsday.com article, the National Rifle Association's public affairs director Andrew Arulanandam stated he found Rep. McCarthy's amendments to be "conceptually flawed."
On the proposal to ban persons found on the Department of Homeland Security's no-fly list, Arulanandam pointed out that people have ended up on the list by mistake.
"No one in the country, with the exception of a handful of people, knows the process of how to get on the list or off the list," he said, noting that the name of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) had once appeared on the list.
To McCarthy's proposed ban of gun sales to persons convicted of felonies in foreign countries, Arulanandam contended that such a law would be almost impossible to enforce due to the wide deviation of judicial standards around the world. "In certain cultures, the very act of being a missionary is a serious crime," he said.
Rep. McCarthy's other failed gun control amendments to the homeland security bill included closing the so-called "gun-show loophole," and reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons.
Given lawmakers' reluctance to reinstate the Clinton-era assault weapons ban on its own in Sept. 2004, coupled with the patent rejection of Rep. McCarthy's amendments, it seems pretty clear that the 109th Congress does not consider tougher domestic gun control laws to be a critical need for homeland security.