Gun-Regulation Meeting Not Result of March, Hatch Says
Scully, Sean, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The Million Mom March did nothing to pressure Sen. Orrin G. Hatch to call a meeting of a joint House-Senate conference committee considering new gun regulations.
"Certainly we're influenced by sincere people, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with us, but [the right to bear arms] is an enumerated right that we have to be very reluctant to change voluntarily," the Utah Republican said yesterday.
Mr. Hatch's committee has been deadlocked for almost a year on a package of gun regulations, particularly details of a proposal to make all gun-show buyers subject to the same background checks required at gun shops.
Shortly after Mr. Hatch's remarks to The Washington Times, Democratic leaders threatened to use parliamentary rules to bring the Senate to a halt for the rest of the year unless Republican leaders grant them a new vote on gun control.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, denied the Democratic maneuver was designed to head off a vote on U.S. policy in Kosovo, a debate that is likely to be embarrassing to the president.
"A number of us had discussions ever since Sunday about how to respond to the Million Mom March," he told reporters after Republican leaders stopped all debate to consider the Democratic threat. "Many of us were very moved by what they said, how they organized, by the extraordinary personal stories that they shared with us."
Mr. Hatch has long said he will not call a meeting of the committee, which met once in August, until he sees some sign of compromise emerging on the contentious details of the gun show measure.
He said yesterday that he has not seen any sign of compromise from Democrats. Nor is he afraid of a public relations backlash because of the march, which brought hundreds of thousands of women to Washington on Mother's Day demanding stronger gun-control laws.
"I think we have to do what we believe, what we think is right," Mr. Hatch said.
Other pro-gun-rights legislators agreed, saying they feel no pressure from the march.
"The members up here can see through the grandstanding. . . . I think people up here get kind of tired of these publicity stunts, to be quite honest with you," said Rep. …