Rand Paul of Kentucky
The junior senator’s penchant for filibusters became famous during his nearly 13-hour speech against the use unmanned drones, and he is one of three senators who sent an initial missive to Reid, warning him of another verbose round. Paul’s independent streak, libertarian leanings and his recent CPAC performance have made him popular among Tea Partiers and young conservatives, but haven’t garnered him much support in the party. Senator John McCain called Paul and cosignatory Ted Cruz “wacko birds” for their refusal to debate certain issues.
Ted Cruz of Texas
A Tea Party favorite who has had to contend with his own “birthers”, the Texas senator has defended his hard-right ideology with an occasionally abrasive fervor. His argumentative style soured a recent debate with senator Dianne Feinstein, in which he spent several minutes attacking her ban on assault weapons and describing the constitution. Feinstein responded: “I’m not a sixth-grader … I am reasonably well educated, and I thank you for the lecture.”
Mike Lee of Utah
The third signatory of the original letter, the junior senator from Utah has made gun rights one of the primary issues of his young congressional career. A former constitutional lawyer, he opposes any changes to regulation in the US, arguing that new rules will unfairly affect law-abiding citizens. He also spoke out against the UN treaty to regulate the global arms trade – a treaty that North Korea and Syria voted against.
Marco Rubio of Florida
Chosen to make the minority rebuttal to President Obama’s state of the union address, Rubio has been seen as a frontrunner to lead a younger, more diverse GOP. He has signed onto the second letter in opposition to any gun control bill, but despite his conservative voting rhetoric, he has not taken to the vitriolic language of Ted Cruz or the defiant attitude of Rand Paul. Party leaders like John McCain and Lindsey Graham have thrown him their support, and his stance on immigration has made him look moderate compared to his peers. Accordingly, he scored a B+ from the NRA.
James Inhofe of Oklahoma
Inhofe has been a conservative staple of the Capitol for two decades, expounding his far-right views on social issues and foreign policy since 1986. He famously continues to deny climate change and proposed an immigration amendment to make English the national language of the US. He is only one of two senators to have received an A+ from both the Gun Owners of America and the NRA, and he has voted to exempt gun manufacturers from lawsuits concerning injury or death due to product defects.
Richard Burr of North Carolina
Since he took office in the House in 1995, Burr stayed a party man for the GOP when he attained his Senate seat a decade later. Burr has supported deregulating everything from tobacco to oil, and he received an A from both the NRA and the Gun Owners of America. His most notable deviation from the party line was with several other senators who voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010.
Mike Enzi of Wyoming
A senior senator from Wyoming, Enzi worked for the Department of Interior and the private Black Hills Corporation before being elected to Congress. His stance on guns follows suit with his conservative social positions; Enzi has voted to ban gay marriage and burning the flag, for instance, and his votes on gun rights earned him an A grade from the NRA.
Jerry Moran of Kansas
Elected to the Senate in the Tea Party rush of 2010, Moran has largely spent his congressional career on matters of deregulation and agriculture. Socially, he has kept to close to the GOP’s most conservative contingent, receiving an A from the NRA. On a few policy issues, however, he has strayed from the party line, as when he voted against No Child Left Behind and Sopa.
Pat Roberts of Kansas
The senior senator from Kansas has largely made a name for himself in national security and foreign policy, after he led the investigation into intelligence failures preceding the war in Iraq. Seeking re-election in 2014, Roberts has turned to social issues and quietly pushed the conservative line. Having voted to allow passengers keep firearms in checked baggage on Amtrack trains, he received an A from the NRA.
Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
Johnson has skewed to the Tea Party values that elected him to his first congressional office in 2010, opposing just about any bill that involves government regulation. He has sponsored a bill that would prevent the DOJ from tracking the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns and received an AQ from the NRA.
Dan Coats of Indiana
Coats has served twice in the Senate, retiring in 1999 only to return in 2011; his policies have inched to the right in the decade-long interim. Though he voted for background checks and Dianne Feinstein’s original assault weapons ban – votes that dropped his NRA score to a C+ – he has otherwise consistently voted conservatively on social issues.
Mike Crapo of Idaho
Since he took office in the Senate in 1998, Crapo has kept an eye toward energy, earning the scorn of environmentalists for votes in favor of oil drilling and against funding renewable sources. On social issues, he’s voted largely with the far right, and he received an A+ from the NRA for his various votes against regulating guns.
James Risch of Idaho
Idaho’s junior senator took office in 2009 after serving as both governor and lieutenant governor. The NRA has given him an A for his votes against background checks and in support of the right to carry concealed weapons across state lines.