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Democrats Defeat Controversial Gun Amendment

Updated: 3:37 p.m.Senate Democrats on Wednesday narrowly defeated, 39-58, an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have allowed gun owners with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms into other states with similar regulations.“The legislation would do nothing less than take state and local gun laws and tear them up,— Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said in a floor statement.The amendment was offered by Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.). While the amendment did not succeed — it needed 60 votes to prevail — it did divide the liberal and moderate wings of the Democratic Conference and ignite a heated debate on the Senate floor.Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is up for re-election next year in a state that strongly supports gun rights, was among the 20 Democrats to support the amendment. Schumer, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) led the charge against the measure.Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) also voted in favor of the amendment; Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Montana Sens. Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) were co-sponsors. Two Republicans voted against the measure: Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.) and George Voinovich (Ohio).This isn’t the first time the issue of gun rights has split the Democratic Conference. Democrats were rattled earlier this year when Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) amendment allowing guns on federal lands was successfully added to legislation granting the District of Columbia a voting Member of the House. That amendment has all but killed the bill.