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John McCain on Gun Control

Republican nominee for President; Senior Senator (AZ)


I know how to use guns; but I don’t own one

Q: Tell us about your gun collection, roughly how many you own, what your favorite make, model and caliber is, if any of them require a tax stamp?

A: For a long time I used a lot of guns, including carrying a .45 as a pilot flying in combat over Vietnam. I know how to use guns. I don’t own one now.

Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida , Nov 28, 2007

Prosecute criminals, not citizens for gun ownership

John McCain believes that the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is a fundamental, individual Constitutional right. We have a responsibility to ensure that criminals who violate the law are prosecuted to the fullest, rather than restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. Gun control is a proven failure in fighting crime. Law abiding citizens should not be asked to give up their rights because of criminals--criminals who ignore gun control laws anyway.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.johnmccain.com, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

Don’t hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes

John McCain opposes backdoor attempts to restrict Second Amendment rights by holding gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed by third parties using a firearm, and has voted to protect gun manufacturers from such inappropriate liability aimed at bankrupting the entire gun industry. McCain says, “Neither justice nor domestic peace are served by holding the innocent responsible for the acts of the criminal.”
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.johnmccain.com, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

Opposes restrictions on assault weapons and ammunition types

Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.johnmccain.com, “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

Calls for GOP “tolerance” of closing gun show loopholes

A recall petition drive was started in June 2001 by the Arizona far right. The petition complained that McCain was disloyal to the President, especially in voting against his tax bill, and it also complained about his proposal to close the gun show loophole. One form of the petition accused him of backing “dishonest and treasonist” legislation. Several of the petitions were posted at gun shops.

The NRA was particularly angry with him for its being included in his campaign finance reform bill, and for trying to tighten a loophole in the gun control laws. McCain himself was sufficiently concerned that he sent a 4-page, single-spaced letter to every GOP precinct leader in Arizona. He called for “greater tolerance” for Republicans “who occasionally dissent” from one or another majority position held by a party. He explained his vote against Bush’s tax cut and talked about the need to build up national defense, about his work on the patients’ bill of rights, and the gun show loophole.

Source: Citizen McCain, by Elizabeth Drew, p. 78-79 , May 7, 2002

Ban cheap guns; require safety locks; for gun show checks

McCain favors outlawing cheaply made handguns called Saturday night specials, and favors mandating safety locks on certain guns. He said he is intrigued by new technology that electronically identifies a person handling a gun, allowing only the owner to fire it. McCain rallied Senate Republicans behind a Democratic measure requiring background checks at gun shows.
Source: Scott Lindlaw, Associated Press , Aug 17, 1999

Supports ban on certain assault weapons

McCain said he was open to voting for an assault weapon ban, depending on the details.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “McCain Calls for Hearings” , Aug 17, 1999

Voted against Brady Bill & assault weapon ban

McCain spoke generally of the need for some tighter gun controls on hardened criminals and children. In Congress, he pressured his colleagues to require background checks for buyers at guns shows, and he supported a requirement that trigger locks be sold with handguns. But the Senator opposed the two major gun-control measures of recent years, the 1994 ban on several types of assault weapons and the Brady Bill, which required a 5-day waiting period for handgun purchases.
Source: Todd S. Purdum, New York Times, p. A14 , Aug 17, 1999

Guns are a problem, but so are violent web sites & videos

If you want to take every gun in and dump it in the ocean, I’ll still take you to a Web site where it teaches children how to build a pipe bomb. And I’ll take you to a Web site where the worst kind of hate language that is terribly offensive to all of us exists. I can take you to a video game being sold to our children where the object of the game is to kill police. I understand the importance of weapons, but to define that as being the major cause [of youth violence], there’s a whole lot of causes.
Source: Todd S. Purdum, New York Times, p. A14 , Aug 17, 1999

Punish criminals who abuse 2nd Amendment rights

We need to focus on halting the spread of violent crime and punishing violent criminals who abuse their Second Amendment rights, while preserving those same rights for law-abiding Americans.
Source: www.mccain2000.com/ “Press Releases” , May 10, 1999

Youth Violence Prevention Act restricts guns for kids

McCain has introduced the “Youth Violence Prevention Act.”
Source: www.mccain2000.com/ “Press Releases” , May 10, 1999

Repeal existing gun restrictions; penalize criminal use

Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

Voted NO on banning high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. BLUMENTHAL: This amendment would ban high-capacity magazines which are used to kill more people more quickly and, in fact, have been used in more than half the mass shootings since 1982. I ask my colleagues to listen to law enforcement, their police, prosecutors who are outgunned by criminals who use these high-capacity magazines. I ask that my colleagues also listen to the families of those killed by people who used a high-capacity magazine.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. GRASSLEY. I oppose the amendment. In 2004, which is the last time we had the large-capacity magazine ban, a Department of Justice study found no evidence banning such magazines has led to a reduction in gun violence. The study also concluded it is not clear how often the outcomes of the gun attack depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than 10 shots without reloading. Secondly, there is no evidence banning these magazines has reduced the deaths from gun crimes. In fact, when the previous ban was in effect, a higher percentage of gun crime victims were killed or wounded than before it was adopted. Additionally, tens of millions of these magazines have been lawfully owned in this country for decades. They are in common use, not unusually dangerous, and used by law-abiding citizens in self-defense, as in the case of law enforcement.

McCain says, "McCain (R-AZ)"

Reference: Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act; Bill S.Amdt. 714 to S. 649 ; vote number 13-SV103 on Apr 17, 2013

Voted YES on allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains.

Congressional Summary:AMENDMENT PURPOSE: To ensure that law abiding Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.

On page 37, between lines 8 and 9, insert the following: "Allowing Amtrak Passengers to Securely Transport Firearms on Passenger Trains.--None of amounts made available in the reserve fund authorized under this section may be used to provide financial assistance for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) unless Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ROGER WICKER (R, MS). This amendment aims to ensure that gun owners and sportsmen are able to transport securely firearms aboard Amtrak trains in checked baggage, a practice that is done thousands of times a day at airports across the country. I emphasize that this amendment deals with checked, secured baggage only. It would return Amtrak to a pre-9/11 practice. It does not deal with carry-on baggage. Unlike the airline industry, Amtrak does not allow the transport of firearms in checked bags. This means that sportsmen who wish to use Amtrak trains for hunting trips cannot do so because they are not allowed to check safely a firearm.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D, NJ): I object to this disruptive amendment offered by the Senator from Mississippi. He wants to enable the carrying of weapons, guns, in checked baggage. One doesn't have to be very much concerned about what we are doing when they look at the history of attacks on railroads in Spain and the UK and such places. This amendment has no place here interrupting the budgetary procedure. The pending amendment is not germane and, therefore, I raise a point of order that the amendment violates section 305(b)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

Reference: Wicker Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.798 to S.Con.Res.13 ; vote number 2009-S145 on Apr 2, 2009

Voted YES 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 NO 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 YES 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 YES 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 YES 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

Allow veterans to register unlicensed guns acquired abroad.

McCain co-sponsored Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act

Source: HR420/S798 11-S0798 on Apr 12, 2011

Oppose the United Nations' Arms Trade Treaty.

McCain signed Letter to Pres. Obama from 50 Senators

Dear President Obama:

We write to express our concern and regret at your decision to sign the United Nations' Arms Trade Treaty. For the following reasons, we cannot give our advice and consent to this treaty:

  1. The treaty violates a 2009 red line laid down by your own administration: "the rule of consensus decision-making." In April 2013, after the treaty failed to achieve consensus, it was adopted by majority vote in the UN General Assembly.
  2. The treaty allows amendments by a 3/4 majority vote. When amended, it will become a source of political and legal pressure on the US to comply in practice with amendments it was unwilling to accept.
  3. The treaty includes only a weak, non-binding reference to the lawful ownership and use of firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. It encourages governments to collect the identities of individual end users of imported firearms at the national level, which would constitute the core of a national gun registry
  4. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty is "ambiguous." By becoming party to the treaty, the US would therefore be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear.
  5. The criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They will steadily subject the US to the influence of internationally-defined norms, a process that would impinge on our national sovereignty.
  6. The treaty criteria as established could hinder the US in fulfilling its strategic, legal, and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as Taiwan and Israel.
We urge you to notify the treaty depository that the US does not intend to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, and is therefore not bound by its obligations. As members of the Senate, we pledge to oppose the ratification of this treaty, and we give notice that we do not regard the US as bound to uphold its object and purpose.
Source: Letter to Obama from 50 Senators 13-UNATT on Sep 25, 2013

Ban gun registration & trigger lock law in Washington DC.

McCain co-sponsored banning gun registration & trigger lock law in Washington DC