U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to offer at least two gun control amendments to the immigration reform bill the Senate is set to take up next week, returning to an issue that was defeated earlier this spring.
Gun control and immigration reform were the cornerstones of the president's second-term agenda and Blumenthal -- who made stricter gun laws a top priority following the Newtown school massacre -- will attempt to use one as a vehicle to revive the other.
"Supporters of gun violence prevention like myself have said repeatedly and consistently that we're going to raise this issue again and again as long as it is necessary to seek positive steps forward," said Blumenthal. "This bill is certainly an opportunity and I feel an obligation to raise it in ways that are relevant and important to immigration."
Both amendments Blumenthal plans on introducing focus specifically on gun purchases in the context of the immigration debate, differing substantially from the broader gun control measures the Senate rejected in April.
One measure would require reporting of attempted firearms purchases to the Secretary of Homeland Security when someone fails a background check due to immigration status or when a non-citizen purchases two or more handguns in five consecutive business days or less. The other amendment would ban sales of firearms to certain categories of immigrants not lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Blumenthal said he is considering other gun control amendments as well, but would not give specifics.
While members of both parties support overhauling a system that has resulted in more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country illegally, lawmakers are divided over how best to do so. Republicans tend to support measures focused on stricter border security, while Democrats lean towards policies to address the issue of citizenship. Blumenthal said his gun control amendments would advance the security goals of immigration reform.
"If undocumented immigrants who may be dangerous to themselves or others ... are stopped from gun buys, it serves the interests of security," said Sen. Blumenthal.
After the Senate defeated gun control earlier this spring, gun control advocates promised they would do all in their power to return to a debate on that issue.
Former Connecticut Congressman Toby Moffett, a Washington lobbyist who supports stricter gun laws, said those on the gun control side should be careful about what measures they bring forward and wary of any proposal that could give pro-gun senators a "face-saving vote that could be called gun control."
"No one on the gun control side should do anything to give them that," said Moffett, commenting on how Democrats should approach the issue going forward. "I would be very suspect of anything that could pass the Senate right now," he said.
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