Gun Owners of America (GOA), the Virginia-based Second Amendment rights advocacy group, issued a scathing rebuke of the 18 Republican senators who voted for the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
In a Dec. 22 press release, GOA accused the group of advancing the Biden administration’s anti-gun agenda.
“Unfortunately, 12 gun-control items just passed the Senate with the help of these 18 Republican turncoats,” the press release states.
The Republicans who voted for the bill are Sen. Roy Blount, Missouri; Sen. John Boozman, Arkansas; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia; Sen. Susan Collins, Maine; Sen. John Cornyn, Texas; Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas; Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma; Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky; Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas; Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio; Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah; Sen. Mike Rounds, South Dakota; Sen, Richard Shelby, Alabama; Sen. John Thune, South Dakota; Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi; and Sen. Todd Young, Indiana.
Attempts by The Epoch Times to contact the senators were unsuccessful due mainly to their offices being closed for the Christmas holidays.
All 18 listed expressed support for the Second Amendment on their websites. All but Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds mentioned their Omnibus votes. The vast majority said military spending, national security issues, and funding were part of their decision.
One example is Sen. Jim Inhofe who represents Oklahoma, considered the reddest of red states.
His Omnibus press release lists defense as one of his top priorities. Inhofe touts spending on computer technology, weapons systems, and construction projects at military installations around the world.
He also includes a list of infrastructure projects in at least 17 counties and municipalities in Oklahoma. Not to mention grants for research at various Oklahoma institutions.
One Oklahoma project that might draw GOA’s attention is a $10 million Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) to train law enforcement officers to respond to mentally ill or disabled persons.
GOA flagged such spending as a way for federal officials to promote Extreme Risk Protection orders—so-called Red Flag laws—in the states.
Red Flag Laws allow local officials to confiscate firearms owned by a person who has been ruled to be a danger to himself or the community. This can be done regardless of whether the person has broken the law.
Inhofe wrote that, overall, he is happy with the Omnibus deal. “While this is not the package Republicans would have written on our own, the $45 billion increase for our troops will make our country more secure,” his statement reads.
But, a review of the 18 senators’ reveals a mixed bag regarding Second Amendment fervor. All the senators criticized by GOA portray themselves as Second Amendment advocates. Some, however, do call for limits or increased regulation.
Senator John Cornyn, from the generally gun-friendly state of Texas, draws GOA’s ire in particular.
Like Inhofe, Cornyn touts defense, homeland security, and infrastructure spending as big wins. However, his press release highlights school safety grants and laws supporting crime victims.
Much of this is covered by the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” which Cornyn helped pass. The GOA opposed the law and school safety grants as the foot-in-the-door for Red Flag Laws.
During his fight to pass the Act, Cornyn denied that it called for such laws.
However, Senator Susan Collins, who worked on the Act with Cornyn, pointed to Maine’s “Yellow Flag” law as an example of what could be done to reduce gun violence and protect individual rights.
Collins’ website doesn’t have one press release specific to the Omnibus bill, but she does list several projects funded by the plan. These include new ships for the U.S. Navy and funding for colleges and medical facilities.
She is also a strong supporter of Red Flag laws.
On her website, Collins says these laws can be implemented while respecting the due process rights of individual citizens.
Utah’s Sen. Mitt Romney also supported the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
His press release on the Omnibus bill doesn’t mention the Second Amendment, but he does agree with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. They complain that the current process makes it difficult to take firm stands on specific issues.
“The process for government funding must change in the next Congress and allow for individual appropriations bills to be voted on in regular order instead of being combined into large catchall bills which force us to vote for the bad to get the good,” Romney wrote.
“This legislation is far from perfect, and the process that led us to this point needs to change,” Graham wrote on his website.