RICH JAMES: Coats dances to NRA's tune this time

2013-04-19T11:41:00Z 2013-04-20T19:46:23Z RICH JAMES: Coats dances to NRA's tune this time
April 19, 2013 11:41 am  • 

Indiana Sen. Dan Coats sold his soul last week.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre bought it.

Coats voted against legislation to require background checks for all gun show sales – not just for licensed dealer transactions – and Internet sales.

In fact, Coats didn’t even want the Senate to debate the issue. I guess it’s better to keep your head in the sand in the wake of tragedy.

In voicing his opposition to debate on the issue, Coats said, “I’m not going to support something that would violate the Second Amendment.”

Violate the Second Amendment?

Tell me, Dan, how is it that comprehensive background checks are a violation of the Second Amendment?

I’ve read the Second Amendment, and I didn’t come across anything that said felons, terrorists and the mentally ill should be allowed to buy guns.

In fact, we already have a background check system in place, although it’s weak, at best. There is no hue and cry about that being unconstitutional.

So, tell me Dan, why is keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill a violation of the Second Amendment?

What’s that, Dan? The comprehensive background checks have nothing to do with the Second Amendment?

I see, it’s not about the Constitution, but rather about your buddy LaPierre.

I remember how you voted some 20 years ago during your first stint in the Senate, Dan.

Yeah, you were one of the guys who embraced a ban on assault weapons. I suspect you did so hoping to prevent the bad guys from having more firepower than the police officers who protect us.

And I strongly suspect that when you voted to ban assault weapons, you didn’t think it was a violation of the Second Amendment.

But your buddy LaPierre sent you a wake-up call when you made your 2010 bid to come back to the Senate.

Yeah, he slapped you upside the head, gave you a C-plus grade for prior positions and spent $18,000 against you in the contested primary.

That obviously was enough of a scolding to get you into line.

I guess it doesn’t matter that since you voted for the assault weapons ban, which expired under George W. Bush, that children and adults have died at the hands of mentally ill shooters at Sandy Hook Elementary School and elsewhere.

And it apparently doesn’t matter that your colleague, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, got shot in the head at a town forum.

I guess it is more important to get back in the good graces of LaPierre.

The next time you look in the mirror, Dan, ask that image what happened to the guy who voted 20 years ago to ban assault weapons.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at The opinions are the writer’s.

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