In a move that is sure to cause controversy and confusion among Republican members of Congress, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is considering introducing two gun-related amendments to the Senate’s immigration bill.
One of the amendments would bar any immigrant on a visa waiver from purchasing a firearm. The other would “require the US attorney general to alert the Department of Homeland Security when undocumented immigrants attempt to buy guns or when non-citizens attempt mass gun purchases,” according to Mother Jones.
This poses a conundrum: Many in the Republican caucus have pushed the idea that undocumented people are “criminals.” A House immigration bill would even put everyone applying to join the pathway to citizenship on probation. From that logic, it follows that those Republicans — who have repeatedly expressed in the gun debate that “government should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals” — would consider selling mass amounts of guns to people who “broke the law” as something worth tracking by the government.
But at the same time, congressional Republicans have been remarkably resistant to any laws that would expand tracking of gun purchases or checking the legal purchasing status of gun buyers, warning that such efforts could lead to a “gun registry.” Thanks to pressure from the National Rifle Association, some elected officials have voted against the opinions of a huge majority in their states to oppose expanding any gun laws.
Sen. Blumenthal’s amendments have already hit some resistance. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the measures were “problematic” because they would “open up the flood gates.” But if senators choose to block these amendment while backing another that would deny legalized immigrants access to health care, they will show where their priorities lie.