Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a news conference with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (L) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to announce a plan to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, at the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - A trio of Republicans are threatening to filibuster gun legislation when it comes to the Senate floor, arguing the proposals violate the Second Amendment.
Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee - all Tea Party favorites - say they will "oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people's constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance."
Their intention is included in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Reid has promised to bring a bill to the floor after the spring recess that would include separate measures to expand background checks on gun buyers, strengthen trafficking laws and improve school safety. The bills have already passed the Judiciary Committee, and the background check measure is still being tweaked to garner bipartisan support.
The letter from Paul, Cruz and Lee does not specifically say they will filibuster, but their intentions are clear. The letter says the senators "will oppose the motion to proceed" - which is the step required before a bill can come up for consideration. That means 60 votes would be needed to bring up the gun legislation.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has taken the lead in crafting legislation to reduce gun violence, which has been a priority since 20 children and six adults were killed Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Paul, R-Ky., has already staged a nearly 13-hour filibuster this year over the Obama administration's drone policy, which ended up delaying a final confirmation vote on CIA Director John Brennan. Cruz and Lee took part in that effort, coming to the Senate floor to ask their colleague questions so he didn't have to speak the entire time.
Cruz, R-Texas, got into a heated exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., during the Judiciary panel's debate on her proposal to ban assault weapons, which is not included in the gun bill heading for the Senate floor. Feinstein objected to what she called Cruz's lecturing on the Second Amendment and his condescending tone.
Reid has said he would allow the assault weapons ban, which also limits gun magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition, to be offered as an amendment. Feinstein's measure, however, faced stiff opposition from Republicans and Democrats from red-states, such as Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.