The Senate plans to take four procedural votes Monday on amendments that would improve or expand background checks and make it harder for suspected terrorists to purchase guns. None is expected to get the 60 votes required for further action.
Democrats were expected to block two Republican amendments, arguing that they fall short in controlling the sales of guns. Republicans were expected to block two Democratic amendments, contending that they threaten the constitutional rights of gun owners.
Details on the amendments:
— Amendment by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut that would require background checks for all gun sales and improve information in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
— Amendment by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that would boost funds for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and ensure that the correct records are uploaded into the system in a timely manner. Would also clarify language surrounding mental health issues that would disqualify someone from buying a gun.
— Amendment by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that would let the government bar sales of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists. Feinstein offered a similar amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, but the Republican-run Senate rejected the proposal on a near party-line vote.
The Justice Department has endorsed the legislation, saying it gives the department "an important additional tool to prevent the sale of guns to suspected terrorists by licensed firearms dealers while ensuring protection of the department's operational and investigative sensitivities."
— Amendment by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas that would allow the government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for 72 hours, but require prosecutors to go to court to show probable cause to block the sale permanently. The National Rifle Association backs the legislation, which the Senate also rejected in December.
The NRA said in a statement that "if an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed."