Tensions arise in the GOP between moderates and conservatives over gun control measure

by Robert Maynard

According to a recent New York Times article, their are deep divisions in both parties over a new gun control measure.  In the GOP the moderate/conservative divide runs along similar lines of previous such divisions.  Increasingly, the conservative rebels are being led by Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz:

The Republican conflict came to the fore last week during a closed-door luncheon for Senate Republicans, when Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, eyes blazing, stood up and complained about a series of attack ads that she was facing back home from a gun-rights group with deep ties to Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.

Ms. Collins, who faces re-election next year, said the gun ads were an example of the kind of internal Republican warfare that has hindered the party in Senate races the last two elections. She supports the amendments and other components of the new gun regulations legislation, and she released a lengthy statement on Sunday explaining her thinking.

Her comments, according to several Republican aides, ignited a tense debate, similar to many the party has faced since its loss in the race for the White House last year. Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, stood to say he had been raising money for Ms. Collins’ re-election, only to watch her have to spend it to defend herself against the attack from the gun group, which has been directed at other members as well.

Ms. Collins warned her colleagues that if she loses a primary to a strong opponent with gun-rights credentials, it could well cost the party her seat.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a freshman ally of Mr. Paul’s, jumped in to promise he had nothing to do with the group, according to officials briefed on the event. Then Mr. Paul, feeling attacked, stormed out. (A spokeswoman for Mr. Paul did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

The Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, is facing his own re-election race and appears to have ceded leadership on the gun issue to more junior senators, Mr. Cruz, on the pro-gun group side of the debate, and Senator Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois, who supports new regulations.