U.S. Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia and Steve Stockman of Texas have collected the signatures of more than three dozen Republicans on a letter warning congressional leadership from green-lighting legislation providing for universal background checks without majority support from the House GOP caucus.
“We are writing to express our strong opposition to legislation requiring private background checks for firearms purchasers,” the pair, joined by 45 other Republicans, wrote. “Under the precedents and traditions of the House, we would ask that no gun legislation be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority of our caucus.”
The majority within the majority protocol is known within the conference as the Hastert Rule, named for former Republican Speaker Denny Hastert, and is intended as an ideological check on leadership.
Broun, an outspoken conservative now running for U.S. Senate from Georgia, said the proposed measure, which is a top priority of President Obama and Senate Democrats, violates the freedoms of gun owners on an “unprecedented scale” — and all for naught.
Citing gunmen involved in recent mass shootings, the letter says the tightened purchasing regulations would not prevent criminals from legally obtaining firearms and would instead only punish law-abiding citizens.
“In additional to constitutional concerns, even if every private transfer of firearms were regulated by the federal government, it would not be an effective crime-fighting tool,” the letter reads. “Typically, shooters steal firearms (Adam Lanza), pass a background check (James Holmes and Jared Loughner) or receive their firearms through straw purchasers (which is already illegal).”
Even though the state’s congressional delegation is among the most conservative and pro-gun in the nation, only one other Georgian, freshman Rep. Doug Collins, signed Broun’s letter.