How Indiana’s Senators voted on the gun-safety bills

Earlier this week, Indiana Senator Dan Coats joined 28 other Republicans (and 2 “Democrats”) in attempting to filibuster the gun safety law (specifically, the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013”) working its way through the Senate. Coats justified his filibuster attempt, saying in a statement, “The Reid-Schumer bill goes too far and expands the government’s power to regulate, monitor and control the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms.” (The “monitor and control” phrase refers to the deliberate misinformation that the background checks would build a national database of gun owners, something explicitly prohibited by law.)

Yesterday, the Senate rejected every major amendment to that bill. [1]

chart of gun-safety votes by Indiana Senators

How Indiana’s Senators voted on gun safety amendments

Background checks

The vote that’s getting the most attention is the vote for cloture on the Manchin-Toomey amendment (#715) – that’s the bipartisan, watered-down, not-universal background check expansion. In all, 55 Senators supported the amendment, (including 4 Republicans). It needed 60 votes to overcome the Republican filibuster.

Donnelly voted in favor of the amendment, while Coats voted against it.

Assault-weapon ban

Another amendment (#711), introduced by Dianne Feinstein, would reinstate parts of the assault weapon ban and restrict high-capacity magazines. 40 Senators, including 1 Republican (Mark Kirk, R-IL), voted for the amendment.

Both Donnelly and Coats voted against Feinstein’s amendment.

High-capacity magazine ban

An alternate amendment (#714) offered by Senators Lautenberg and Blumenthal, would have restricted only high-capacity magazines. It failed, garnering only 46 votes, including Republican Sen. Kirk.

Both Donnelly and Coats voted against the Lautenberg amendment.

Straw-purchase penalties

Senator Patrick Leahy, along with Senator Susan Collins, introduced an NRA-approved amendment to strengthen penalties against straw purchases. That’s right – Leahy reached an agreement with the National Rifle Association on this amendment. Nonetheless, “only” 58 Senators – including 3 Republicans – supported the NRA-approved amendment, two votes short of overcoming a filibuster.

Donnelly voted in favor of the Leahy amendment, while Coats opposed it.

Conservative replacement amendment

Republican Senators Grassley and Cruz, along with Coats and Lindsey Graham, introduced a late amendment as a conservative alternative. Their bill included shout-outs to right-wing conspiracy theory favorites like “Fast and Furious” and ammunition stockpiling by the Obama administration. 52 Senators – 43 Republicans and 9 Democrats – supported the bill, but not enough to overcome a threatened (Democratic) filibuster.

Both Donnelly and Coats voted for the Grassley amendment.

Concealed-carry reciprocity

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas introduced an amendment that would require states to honor the concealed-carry permits from other states. [2]

57 Senators, including 44 Republicans and 13 Democrats, voted in favor of the amendment, so it failed.

Both Donnelly and Coats voted in favor of the Cornyn amendment.

Veterans gun ownership

Finally, the Burr amendment (#720) would have altered the rules for veterans who are disqualified from owning guns. 56 Senators supported this amendment – 49 Republicans, 6 Democrats, and the only Independent – falling short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

Both Donnelly and Coats voted in favor of the Burr amendment.

Of course, Senator Dan Coats (along with fellow Indiana Republican Dick Lugar) supported the assault weapon ban back in 1993–94. The NRA endorsed Coats’ opponent, former Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth, in 2010 – Ellsworth had an “A” rating, while Coats had a “C”. Of course, that didn’t make a difference in the election; despite the media hype, the NRA isn’t really that influential in general elections.

It will be interesting to see how the NRA “scores” votes on this bill, and whether it penalizes Republicans for filibustering their approved amendment. (Somehow, I think they’ll find a way to excuse it.)

  1. For a better rundown of the amendments to the gun safety bill, check out Brad Plumer’s explainer: “Here are the nine gun amendments the Senate will consider this week”.  ↩

  2. There’s an interesting contrast here, since the opponents of marriage equality argue that states shouldn’t be forced to offer reciprocity to marriages in other states. Apparently, for some Senators (including Sen. Coats), concealed-carry licenses are more sacred than marriage licenses.  ↩