Capitol Catchall: Guns, copper thieves and Sen.-elect Franken


Last Wednesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Erik Paulsen introduced twin bills that would make it more difficult for copper thieves to sell their loot. The bipartisan Secondary Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2009, according to a Klobuchar press release, “contains a ‘Do Not Buy’ provision which bans scrap metal dealers from buying specific items unless sellers establish, by written documentation, that they are authorized to sell the secondary metal in question.” [H.R. 1006, S. 418]

Over the past eight years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has “almost completely abrogated the ban on imported assault rifles,” which Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum said shoot five bullets in as many seconds. Last week, McCollum was among 54 House members — all Democrats, except for Reps. Michael Castle of Rhode Island and Christopher Smith of New Jersey — to sign a letter [pdf] to President Obama urging him to direct the ATF to “act in accordance with the 1968 Gun Control Act and return to enforcing the ban on the import of all assault weapons.” Such weapons are “being smuggled in bulk” across the border where they’re being used in violence by narco-traffickers in Mexico. The letter cites statistics by Mexico’s attorney general that organized-crime–related homicides doubled over the last two years — from 2,700 in 2007 to 5,700 in 2008.

Al Franken, who in two campaign press releases today is referred to as Sen.-elect Franken, faces long odds in getting Senate Republicans to bestow that term upon him anytime soon. Politico reports that Republicans, having seen how the Obama administration got its way on the stimulus package, is doing all it can to prevent Franken from becoming the Senate’s 59th Democrat. Several GOPers — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), as well as Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — have given the maximum allowable to Coleman’s campaign. Further, Republicans vow a filibusters should Democrats try to seat Franken before Coleman’s final legal card is played.

Smart Politics’ Eric Ostermeier crunches the numbers to predict that Democrats will likely expand their lead in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, bucking a trend in which the party in the White House usually fails to add seats in mid-term elections. “During the past 100+ years, there have only been four instances in which the party controlling the White House has picked up seats in the U.S. House during the mid-term cycle,” he writes. “However, two of these cases have occurred during the past decade: 1902, 1934, 1998, and 2002.”