Tom Coburn: The Second Amendment’s knight in shining armor?

Tom Coburn

There is a real push on to try and and enact stricter gun control in this country after the Sandy Hook tragedy. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed bill is scaring the pants out of gun owners throughout the nation.  However, ABC News points out that there is one really big roadblock in the way, and that is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Conservatives revere the Oklahoma Republican for his fiscal hawkishness and regular reports on government waste. But he’s also a staunch gun-rights advocate, and he’s shown a willingness to obstruct even popular legislation, something in the Senate that a single member can easily accomplish.

That mixture could make Coburn the biggest threat to quick passage of new gun-control laws in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that has prompted even pro-gun NRA-member lawmakers like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to endorse a new look at how access to the most powerful weapons can be limited.

Coburn’s office did not respond to multiple requests to discuss the current push for gun legislation. But given his record, it’s hard to imagine Coburn agreeing to a major, new proposal without some fuss.

Personally, I happen to agree with them on this one.  Why?  History.  Coburn was instrumental in blocking the last knee jerk bill that came about after one of these rampage shootings.  As ABC points out:

After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, Congress heard similar pleadings for new gun limits, some of them similarly to those being heard now. When it came to light that Seung-Hui Cho, the mentally disturbed 23-year-old who opened fire on campus, passed a background check despite mental-health records indicating he was a suicide threat, a push began to include such records in determining whether a person should be able to buy a gun.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., a longtime gun-control advocate whose husband was killed in a mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road in 1996, introduced a widely supported bill to do just that. The NRA backed her National Instant Check System Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.

But Coburn didn’t. The senator blocked action on the bill, citing concerns over patient privacy, limited gun access for veterans, and the cost of updating the background-check system,

In blocking that bill, Coburn pointed to a government study noting that 140,000 veterans had been referred to the background-check registry since 1998 without their knowledge.

“I am certainly understanding of the fact that some veterans could be debilitated to the point that such cataloguing is necessary, but we should ensure this process does not entangle the vast majority of our combat veterans who simply seek to readjust to normal life at the conclusion of their tours. I am troubled by the prospect of veterans refusing necessary treatment and the benefits they are entitled to. As I’m sure you would agree we cannot allow any stigma to be associated with mental healthcare or treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury,” Coburn wrote to acting Veterans Secretary Gordon Mansfield.

As a veteran myself, Coburn has no idea how much I appreciated his stand.  While I’m not on the registry and not likely to be, at least in so far as my military service might contribute to me being on it.  However, it’s also a case of “there but for the grace of God”.

Coburn isn’t likely to have changed his views on gun rights after Sandy Hook.  He’s likely to block anything approaching Feinstein’s current proposal, and I suspect anything that even looks like the 1994 assault weapon ban that accomplished absolutely nothing. So what may actually pass?  Well, I’m not a fortune teller.

However, I do know that there isn’t a whole lot government could have done to prevent Sandy Hook.  Connecticut has an assault rifle ban, and Adam Lanza didn’t purchase one through legal means anyways.  There’s not a lot to prevent another one either.

Logic, however, isn’t really working with some folks right now.  So, Coburn might be our best shot and killing potential legislation.  Let’s hope so anyways.  Is he a “knight in shining armor”?  Well, if not, then this may just be the best chance to become one.

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