Hatching A Rotten Egg
"Increasingly, Senator Hatch has been lining up with Senator Kennedy and other ultra-liberals in Congress, lending the aura of conservative respectability to legislation most conservatives would dismiss out of hand."
–The gun control record of Senator Orrin Hatch
by Gun Owners Of America
–David Keene, chairman, American Conservative Union, 3/17/97
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) –who would ever have thought that this “Odd Couple” would hook up together on issue after issue?
On the subject of Gun Rights, the 1992 Congress was the last time that Orrin Hatch had a perfect voting record. It was a different world then. The Democrats had a perpetual grip on the federal Congress. Legendary actors like Roy Rogers were still alive. And Senators from Utah would rather be caught dead than vote for gun control.
A lot has changes since 1992. The Democrats are out of power in the halls of Congress, and Orrin Hatch’s position on Guns has moved closer to Ted Kennedy’s than it has to Roy Rogers’.
Conservatives forever trying to “rein him in”
“Orrin was frequently inclined to cut deals with Kennedy” and “buck the [GOP] leadership,” recalls former conservative colleague Malcolm Wallop. “Conservatives would forever try to rein him in.”
Indeed, 1993, was a watershed year for Senator Hatch. He shocked politicos and constituents alike when he voted for the Democratic crime bill containing a ban on semi-automatic firearms. (Source: Congressional Record, 11/19, 93, p.S 16301.) That ban, introduced by anti-gun Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), covered more than 180 types of firearms and any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.
Some considered Hatch’s vote a fluke, especially since he turned around and voted against that very same crime bill only month later. Unfortunately, it was the start of a political “sea of change” that would not be fully realized until the 104th Congress.
104th Congress (1995-1996)
While Congress took a definite step to the right after the political shakeup in the November 1994 elections, [When control of the House and Senate fell to the Republicans] Hatch quickly began moving to the left, perhaps to anticipate a future presidential run:
Hatch introduced an extremely controversial bill in 1995 (S.3) that would have allowed BATF, and other government agents, to conduct searches and seizures in violation of the 4th Amendment, if they act in “good faith.” This was a very dangerous idea, for had it passed, it would almost certainly remove the incentive for officer to secure a warrant in most cases.
In addition to voting for a wiretapping amendment, Hatch also sponsored a “government terror” bill (S. 735) that was an attack on the Second Amendment, as well as many of the rights listed in the Bill Of Rights. (Source: Congressional Record, 6/6/95, p. S 7773.)
Most notable, however, was his vote for the Lautenberg Domestic Gun Ban in 1996. This ban disarms gun owners for small infractions in the home–misdemeanors as slight as spanking a child or grabbing a spouse. This LIFETIME ban, in certain cases can even be imposed without a trial by jury. (Source: Congressional Record, 6/12/96, p. S 10380.)
105th Congress (1997-1998)
Hatch continued his anti-gun was in the 105th Congress when he voted to seat an anti-gun Clinton judge, Margaret Morrow, on the federal bench. (Source: Congressional Record, 2/11/98, p. S 660.) However, gun owners, who had not been watching the Hatch transformation occur, were truly shocked when he introduced one of the most dangerous gun control bills in a generation (S. 10).
This “Horror Bill” would have treated gun owners like organized crime figures, increasing existing penalties for technical violations of federal gun laws. Originally, S. 10 would have punished gun dealers with 20 years in prison for committing just two paperwork mistakes. Horrified dealers admitted this provision alone would pre-emptively force them out of business.
Pressure from GOA [Gun Owners of America] and it’s members forced significant changes in the bill by the time it was reported out of the Judiciary Committee, but many harmful provisions still remained. Despite these problems, Hatch kept pushing his “Horror Bill” with a vengeance. He tried very hard to get S. 10 through the Senate, but the clock finally ran out when Congress adjourned and returned home in October 1998.
106th Congress (1999-2000)
Undeterred, Hatch returned to the next Congress, intend on passing his “Horror Bill.” The Columbine High School tragedy in Colorado was the spark he needed, as he pushed his so-called juvenile crime bill though the Senate only four weeks later (S. 254).
While this “Horror Bill” was considerably scaled down from the previous Congress, the bill grew increasingly worse sa it was amended several times on the Senate floor. And Hatch was there either introducing, or voting for several of the anti-gun amendments:
Young Adult Gun Ban.
Senator Hatch voted for this ban which would punish young adults for the mere possession of so-called semi-automatic “assault weapons” or magazines holding over 10 rounds. Unfortunately, the provision would, under most circumstances, even punish law-abiding youth who are simply target shooting with their parents. (Source: Congressional Record, 5/13/99, p. S 5236.)
Ban On Private Sales.
This amendment was offered by Senator Hatch himself, and imposes several 2nd Amendment restrictions. Among other things, it would ban any private sale at a gun show that did not first go through a Brady background check. (Source: Congressional Record, 5/14/99, p. S 5326.)
“Lock-Up Your Safety” Requirements.
Hatch joined forces with notoriously anti-gun Herb Kohl to introduce an amendment forcing gun sellers to include trigger locks with every handgun sold. (Source: Congressional Record, 5/18/99, p. S 5474.)
Anti-Gun Crime Bill.
When S. 254 finally came up for a vote, it had more “riders” than a Christmas tree. It contained gun bans, gun registration, and even BATF enhancement provisions that could very well put gun shows out of business. Nevertheless, Hatch voted for the bill, and even worked behind the scenes to hurdle a threatened filibuster by staunch pro-gun Senator Bob Smith (I-NH) (Source: Congressional Record, 5/20/99, p. S 5725.)
For Orrin Hatch, it seems that times have definitely changed. He voted with anti-gun Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts on ALL the anti-gun votes listed above. One wonders how long the people of Utah will continue to put up with a western version of the Massachusetts liberal.
P.S. Orrin Hatch voted for, and continues to defend, his vote to confirm the notoriously anti-gun Eric Holder for Attorney General of the United States. Holder was the Assistant Attorney General under the also notoriously anti-gun Attorney General Janet Reno, who presided over the Ruby Ridge and Waco debacles. Holder is currently under intense scrutiny for his role in the Fast And Furious scandal.