Washington Notes: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's gun votes draw mixed reaction

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who was vilified for voting to allow debate on gun legislation, got more of a mixed response last week when he voted against proposals to expand background checks and to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 21, 2013
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U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who was vilified for voting to allow debate on gun legislation, got more of a mixed response last week when he voted against proposals to expand background checks and to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons.

Some praised him, while some accused him of being a coward.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, never planned to vote for a bipartisan proposal on background checks — he considered it unworkable — or for any outright prohibitions on sales of guns or magazines. But he wanted to debate the bill in part to offer his own proposal to improve the national instant background check system and make it more effective in blocking sales to criminals and those with mental illness.

Coburn's vote to advance the bill for debate led to a strong — and often obscene — backlash on his Facebook page, and in calls and emails to his office, from those who considered him a “traitor” to the 2nd Amendment.

Last week, after Coburn joined 45 other senators in defeating the bipartisan proposal to expand background checks — a vote that effectively killed the bill — Coburn got some strong backlash from the other side.

“Such a disappointing vote,” one person from the Oklahoma City area wrote on his Facebook page. “I was hopeful you would be above the politics of this moment.”

“How could including Gun Shows in the background checks infringe on some Redneck's right to own and carry a gun in this Wild West atmosphere we have in Oklahoma?” another from the Oklahoma City area wrote. “If you can look at a picture of one of those babies killed at Newtown and vote that way, you are less of a human than I thought.”

But there were also many notes thanking Coburn for his vote.

“Thank you for voting to protect our 2nd amendment rights Tom,” one wrote. “I've given you a lot of flack over these last few weeks on here, and through emails. You did your constituents right, and you should feel PROUD of your choice, regardless of what your peers may say about you.”

Inhofe says tuition assistance program restarted

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said the military branches had restarted the tuition assistance program that helps military personnel attend college while serving.

Inhofe and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-NC, got an amendment passed last month requiring that the program continue despite deep budget cuts at the Defense Department.

Inhofe said, “I applaud the services' decision to restore tuition assistance in full for our active-duty military members, an earned benefit many rely on to improve their quality of life and pursue leadership opportunities.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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