2004: The Last Time the NRA Lost a Vote in Congress

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 18 2012 1:09 PM

2004: The Last Time the NRA Lost a Vote in Congress

In my story today, I recall that the NRA hasn't watched a gun control bill pass in either chamber of Congress since 1999, when a 51-50 vote moved a gun control loophole-closing bill out of the Senate. Jim Kessler, senior vice president of policy at the centrist group Third Way, emails to remind me of a more recent loss.

On March 3, 2004, the NRA brought its bill to grant the gun industry immunity from lawsuits to the Senate floor. The bill had more than 55 cosponsors and was certain to get the 60 needed to pass. At our old gun group, Americans for Gun Safety, we succeeded in allowing senators to offer 2 amendments. The first, to close the gun show loophole, passed 53-46. The second, to renew the assault weapons ban, passed 52-47. The NRA was so stunned that these amendments passed that they sent messages via blackberry to Senators on the floor to renounce support for the immunity bill. The bill failed 8 to 90.
The NRA doesn’t lose often, but they do lose. And it was glorious.

And it sort of sunk into a memory hole, but it remains relevant. I've been asking various senators and members of Congress whether they'd be open to any new gun legislation, of any kind. "I voted for [the assault weapons ban] in 2004," said Sen. Susan Collins. I asked whether that meant she'd vote for a new law. "I already answered that question," she said.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 10:36 AM MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel Recounts Telling Her Mother About Her Best-Selling Memoir MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel recounts telling her mother about her best-selling memoir.
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
The Vault
Sept. 16 2014 12:15 PM “Human Life Is Frightfully Cheap”: A 1900 Petition to Make Lynching a Federal Offense
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 10:20 AM White People Are Fine With Laws That Harm Blacks The futility of fighting criminal justice racism with statistics.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.