We knew Randy Scheunemann, John McCain's top foreign policy adviser, was into guns. After all, in 1997 he was arrested for having a shotgun and several rounds of ammunition in his car on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. And in addition to his extensive lobbying work on behalf of former Soviet bloc countries, he's also a longtime lobbyist for gun-rights groups. But it now looks like, for Scheunemann, doing the bidding of the gun lobby takes precedence over efforts to combat terrorism.
Newsweek reports that, according to registration documents filed by Scheuenemann's lobbying firm, Orion Strategies, Scheunemann lobbied on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) against a bill that aims to close a gun-control loophole that inhibits the government from stopping people on terrorist watch-lists from buying guns. According to Newsweek, "the bill was inspired by an official audit covering a five-month period in 2004 which found that, because of the loophole, the Feds had to greenlight 35 out of 44 cases where a gun buyer was on a terrorist watch list."
The bill, which is backed by the Bush Justice Department, was introduced last year by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), but has been held up in committee. It has since faced stiff opposition from the gun lobby, an aide to Lautenberg told TPMmuckraker, and has yet to come to a vote.
According to lobby disclosure reports, Scheunemann's firm was paid $120,000 by NSSF in 2007, and another $60,000 so far this year. Scheunemann himself took a leave of absence from the firm earlier this year to work on McCain's campaign.
Sen. McCain has not taken a position on the bill. His campaign would not tell Newsweek whether he supports it, or whether Scheunemann had ever lobbied McCain on gun-control issues.