Many U.S. senators are known for talking a lot whenever the opportunity arises, but North Carolina Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr seemed to use the fewest possible words to explain why they voted as they did this week on a handful of gun control proposals.
They didn’t blog about it on their websites as their colleagues did. They issued no press releases about the votes. They didn’t speak on the Senate floor about their decision on the compromise proposal to extend background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.
And their press secretaries on Thursday said they were too busy for interviews.
All of the gun-control proposals failed in votes on Wednesday.
Hagan, unlike several other Democrats who face re-election in 2014, voted in favor of background checks for people buying firearms over the Internet and at gun shows, intended to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from buying guns.
Hagan had anticipated that vote in a statement she issued last week in which she called those checks “common sense” that would not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms spelled out in the Second Amendment. According to polls, most Americans agree.
She also noted that the measure would exempt sales between family and friends, allow concealed carry permits to serve in lieu of background checks, and ban creation of a registry of gun owners.
In the statement, Hagan said she opposed bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines because they “could infringe on the rights of lawful gun owners.” She voted against those measures.
Burr voted against those measures and the extension of background checks to Internet and gun-show purchases. He said nothing after the votes, but like Hagan had anticipated his vote in a statement released on Tuesday.
Burr said in the statement that he had “numerous Second Amendment, due process and privacy concerns” about the background check proposal, thought the three-sentence statement didn’t say what they were. His office said Thursday that his concerns about due process and privacy issues concerned veterans.
Burr proposed an amendment during the debate that would have addressed what he said is a problem for veterans who ask for help managing their finances. Currently, he said, these veterans are reported to the FBI’s background check system and not allowed to purchase guns.
His proposal would have required a federal judge to make that decision. Hagan voted in favor of it. However, the measure didn’t get the 60 votes necessary under Senate rules.
Both Hagan, a Democrat, and Burr, a Republican, voted in favor of a proposal by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that would have improved the availability of records to the background check system.
They also voted for a measure sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would have allowed someone with a concealed-carry license to carry a concealed handgun in other states.
Those Republican-sponsored measures, like the Democratic ones, failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass.