Senate Background Check Bill in Jeopardy, Lacks Necessary Votes

Leah Barkoukis

4/16/2013 4:32:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

When a ban on “assault weapons” was completely dropped from the Senate’s gun control package, anti-gun advocates shifted their focus to more attainable measures, such as universal background checks. The bipartisan Manchin/Toomey ‘comprise’ proposal provided a glimmer of hope for gun-control advocates (and even some pro-gun groups), but Politico is reporting that even this has little chance of passing:

This bipartisan proposal, which expands background checks and closes the controversial “gun show” loophole, is gaining nearly no steam in the House, and in the Senate, it’s no better.

Senate Democratic leadership considered pushing back the vote to Thursday or later. Manchin and Toomey said Monday evening that they were short of the votes they needed.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Toomey said. “We’re not there at the moment, but we’re were working on it.”

Manchin said he is “talking to everybody” about supporting the bill. […]

If Democrats cannot overcome a GOP filibuster on the background checks bill, any chances for major gun control legislation being enacted in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting would diminish dramatically.

With Republicans filibustering the Manchin-Toomey proposal, a cloture vote on the bill is likely to take place on Thursday at the earliest.

Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, endorsed the Manchin/Toomey background check bill on Sunday in anticipation of a Senate vote this week. “Believe me-- I’m solidly 100 percent pro-gun, but we get back, in return for a meaningless background check, which I admit will not solve the problem, criminals will still get their guns anyway, we get back a whole bunch of things we don’t have right now.  We get more rights and more freedom. To me that’s a win,” he said. A statement was also released on the organization’s website further explaining CCRKBA’s position.

Not everyone is as supportive, however. Last week Sen. Tom Coburn expressed concern that the background check proposal amounts to a new tax on guns. Additionally, at least nine of the 16 GOP senators who voted to advance the bill say they oppose the background check compromise. The NRA also criticized the measure.

"It's an open question as to whether or not we have the votes," Toomey said on CNN over the weekend. "I think it's going to be close."