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Joseph Lieberman on Gun Control

Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004


Licensing & registration violate fundamental right to guns

Q: In the 2000 campaign, Al Gore had a proposal for the licensing of all new handguns bought by gun owners. Anyone who wanted to buy a new handgun had to get licensed. Will you support that proposal in this campaign?

LIEBERMAN: I do not support that proposal. I have never supported such a proposal.

Q: But you were part of the ticket.

LIEBERMAN: Gore came out with that position before I came on to the ticket. The issue never really came up. Al Gore said to me when I got on the ticket, "Don't change anything about yourself, that's why I chose you."

American citizens have a right to own firearms. It is no more unlimited than any other right that we have. The laws that we pass ought to concentrate on stopping criminals and children and others who shouldn't have guns from getting them. Licensing, registration, in my opinion are bad ideas and violations of that fundamental right.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Safe havens: Ban guns in schools and churches

On the eve of the anniversary of the Columbine killings, it is time to step back and think about how we can restore our common sense of security. The Columbine tragedy and others like it should also be enough to cause all of us to draw some lines around those spaces where guns have no place, and thus begin to reclaim the safe havens in our communities.

[We should prohibit] firearms in schools, scholastic settings, and places of worship. Saturday Night Specials do not belong in Sunday School classes or any other place where families are learning, playing or praying. Every community is entitled to at least a few sites of sanctuary, where they can honor their families and their God without fearing for their safety or their lives. But the reality is that at least 22 states permit gunowners to carry concealed weapons in places of worship, and many allow them at school events off campus.

Source: Senate statement, “Safe Havens” Apr 14, 2000

Safety locks, background checks, & bans on sale to kids

The juvenile justice bill would require all new handguns to be sold with safety locks; would require background checks for people who buy firearms at gun shows; and would bar the transfer of semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity clips to minors. “These new protections won’t guarantee that our children will be gun-free,” Lieberman said. “But they will reduce the likelihood that weapons will fall into the wrong small hands, and they will save lives, which is why I strongly supported them.”
Source: Press Release, “Omnibus juvenile justice bill” May 20, 1999

Voted YES on prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership.

Amendment SA 2774 to H.R. 2764, the Department of State's International Aid bill: To prohibit the use of funds by international organizations, agencies, and entities (including the United Nations) that require the registration of, or taxes guns owned by citizens of the United States.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. VITTER: This is a straight funding limitation amendment. Many folks who haven't followed the proceedings on this in the U.N. may ask: What is this all about? Unfortunately, it is about an effort in the United Nations to bring gun control to various countries through that international organization. Unfortunately, that has been an ongoing effort which poses a real threat, back to 1995. In 2001, the UN General Assembly adopted a program of action designed to infringe on second amendment rights. The Vitter amendment simply says we are not going to support any international organization that requires a registration of US citizens' guns or taxes US citizens' guns. If other folks in this Chamber think that is not happening, that it is never going to happen, my reply is simple and straightforward: Great, then this language has no effect. It is no harm to pass it as a failsafe. It has no impact. But, in fact, related efforts have been going on in the U.N. since at least 1995. I hope this can get very wide, bipartisan support, and I urge all my colleagues to support this very fundamental, straightforward amendment.

No opponents spoke against the bill.

Reference: Vitter Amendment to State Dept. Appropriations Bill; Bill S.Amdt. 2774 to H.R. 2764 ; vote number 2007-321 on Sep 6, 2007

Voted NO on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others. Voting YES would:
Reference: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; Bill S 397 ; vote number 2005-219 on Jul 29, 2005

Voted YES on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence.

Vote to pass a bill that would block certain civil lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers of firearms and ammunition, mainly those lawsuits aimed at making them liable for gun violence. In this bill, trade groups would also be protected The bill would call for the dismissal of pending lawsuits against the gun industry. The exception would be lawsuits regarding a defect in a weapon or ammunition. It also would provide a 10-year reauthorization of the assault weapons ban which is set to expire in September 2004. The bill would increase the penalties for gun-related violent or drug trafficking crimes which have not resulted in death, to a minimum of 15 years imprisonment. The bill calls for criminal background checks on all firearm transactions at gun shows where at least 75 guns are sold. Exemptions would be made available for dealers selling guns from their homes as well as members-only gun swaps and meets carried out by nonprofit hunting clubs.
Reference: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; Bill S.1805/H.R.1036 ; vote number 2004-30 on Mar 2, 2004

Voted YES on background checks at gun shows.

Require background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)50; N)50; VP decided YES
Reference: Lautenberg Amdt #362; Bill S. 254 ; vote number 1999-134 on May 20, 1999

Voted NO on more penalties for gun & drug violations.

The Hatch amdt would increase mandatory penalties for the illegal transfer or use of firearms, fund additional drug case prosecutors, and require background check on purchasers at gun shows. [A YES vote supports stricter penalties].
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)48; N)47; NV)5
Reference: Hatch Amendment #344; Bill S. 254 ; vote number 1999-118 on May 14, 1999

Voted NO on loosening license & background checks at gun shows.

Vote to table or kill a motion to require that all gun sales at gun shows be completed by federally licensed gun dealers. Also requires background checks to be completed on buyers and requires gun show promoters to register with the Treasury.
Reference: Bill S.254 ; vote number 1999-111 on May 11, 1999

Voted NO on maintaining current law: guns sold without trigger locks.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment to make it unlawful for gun dealers to sell handguns without providing trigger locks. Violation of the law would result in civil penalties, such as suspension or revocation of the dealer's license, or a fine.
Reference: Bill S 2260 ; vote number 1998-216 on Jul 21, 1998

Prevent unauthorized firearm use with "smart gun" technology.

Lieberman signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Make America the “Safest Big Country” in the World
After climbing relentlessly for three decades, crime rates started to fall in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the public remains deeply concerned about the prevalence of gun violence, especially among juveniles, and Americans still avoid public spaces like downtown retail areas, parks, and even sports facilities.

We need to keep policing “smart” and community-friendly, prohibiting unjust and counterproductive tactics such as racial profiling; focus on preventing as well as punishing crime; pay attention to what happens to inmates and their families after sentencing; use mandatory testing and treatment to break the cycle of drugs and crime; and enforce and strengthen laws against unsafe or illegal guns. Moreover, we need a renewed commitment to equal justice for all, and we must reject a false choice between justice and safety.

Technology can help in many areas: giving police more information on criminal suspects so they do not rely on slipshod, random stop-and-search methods; allowing lower-cost supervision of people on probation or parole; and making it possible to disable and/or trace guns used by unauthorized persons.

Above all, we need to remember that public safety is the ultimate goal of crime policy. Until Americans feel safe enough to walk their neighborhood streets, enjoy public spaces, and send their children to school without fear of violence, we have not achieved public safety.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC11 on Aug 1, 2000

Other candidates on Gun Control: Joseph Lieberman on other issues:
Republican Presidential Nominee:
Sen.John McCain

Republican Veepstakes:
Gov.Haley Barbour(MS)
Sen. Sam Brownback(KS)
Gov. Jeb Bush(FL)
Gov.Charlie Crist(FL)
Rep. Newt Gingrich(GA)
Mayor Rudy Giuliani(NYC)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
Gov. Bobby Jindal(LA)
Sen.Joe Lieberman(I,CT)
Gov.Tim Pawlenty(MN)
Secy. Condi Rice(CA)
Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Gov. Mark Sanford(SC)
Sen. Fred Thompson(TN)
Secy. Tommy Thompson(WI)
Democratic Presidential Contenders:
Sen.Hillary Clinton
Sen.Barack Obama

Democratic Veepstakes:
Gen.Wesley Clark(AR)
Sen.John Edwards(NC)
Gov.Bill Richardson(NM)
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Page last updated: Jul 15, 2008