Senate showdown vote on gun curbs set for Thursday

Leading Democrat calls for decision.
Associated Press
Apr 10, 2013

The Senate's top Democrat has set Congress' first showdown vote for Thursday on President Barack Obama's gun control drive as a small but mounting number of Republicans appear willing to buck a conservative effort to prevent debate from even beginning.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada announced his decision Tuesday as the White House, congressional Democrats and relatives of the victims of December's mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., amped up pressure on GOP lawmakers to allow debate and votes on gun control proposals. Twenty first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, turning gun control into a top-tier national issue.

Meanwhile, participants from both parties said a bipartisan deal was imminent on expanding required federal background checks to gun purchases conducted at gun shows and online. The two chief negotiators, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., were expected to announce the compromise on Wednesday.

Manchin and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters late Tuesday that a deal was close. A Toomey aide said the same, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door bargaining.

An agreement on background checks — the cornerstone of Obama's plan to restrict firearms — could boost bipartisan support for the overall effort, at least initially, because Manchin and Toomey are among their parties' most conservative members. But the ultimate fate of gun legislation remains unclear, clouded by opposition from many Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Democratic-led Senate and the GOP-run House.

The emerging deal would expand required federal background checks to sales at gun shows and online, but exempt transactions like face-to-face, non-commercial purchases, said several Senate aides and lobbyists who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private talks.

Currently, the checks are required only for sales through licensed gun dealers.

On the Senate floor, Reid pointed to a poster-sized photo of a white picket fence that had slats bearing the names of the Newtown victims.

"We have a responsibility to safeguard these little kids," said Reid, D-Nev. "And unless we do something more than what's the law today, we have failed."

"We don't have the guts to stand up and vote yes or no? We want to vote maybe? Tell that to the families in Newtown" and other communities where there have been mass shootings, said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of 13 conservative senators who signed a letter promising to try blocking debate, said the Senate bill puts "burdens on law abiding citizens exercising a constitutional right." He said none of its provisions "would have done anything to prevent the horrible tragedy of Sandy Hook."

Obama was calling senators from both parties Tuesday to push for the gun bill, according to a White House official.

A Senate vote to begin debating the guns package would mark a temporary victory for Obama and his allies.

Some Republicans, though eager to avoid blocking debate, could vote against the measure on final passage. Coupled with resistance by leaders of the GOP-run House to main parts of Obama's effort — including bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — the ultimate outcome seems shaky for Democrats.

Reid said he did not know if he had the 60 votes he will need to defeat the conservatives' roadblock. But at least eight Republicans have said they want to begin debate or have indicated a willingness to consider it: Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Susan Collins of Maine, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

But some moderate Democrats are remaining noncommittal and might oppose opening the gun debate, including Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who are seeking re-election next year.

Begich declined to directly state his position and said of Alaskans, "We like our guns."

There are 53 Senate Democrats and two independents who lean Democratic.

In a written statement, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said conservatives want to prevent Obama from rushing the legislation through Congress "because he knows that as Americans begin to find out what is in the bill, they will oppose it."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will join the conservatives' attempt to block debate.

The bill would expand required federal background checks to nearly all gun transactions — a provision Reid would try to replace with the completed agreement between Manchin and Toomey. It would also stiffen penalties for illegal firearms trafficking and provide a small boost in school safety aid.

Eleven Sandy Hook family members representing eight of the shooting victims were on Capitol Hill to lobby senators from both parties for gun legislation, including Isakson.

"We bring a very personal perspective," said Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel. "People should listen to what we have to say and move the debate forward. It's not just about our tragedy. Lots of kids are killed every day in this nation. We have to help lead the change."

Some relatives had breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden at his residence in the Naval Observatory. Later, Biden spoke to law enforcement officials at the White House and told reporters that conservatives would not succeed in blocking debate.

"This is not one of these votes that they block a vote and somehow we're going to go away," Biden said. "The American public will not stand for it."

The president's gun-control proposals have hit opposition from the National Rifle Association, which was using the Internet and emails to urge its members — it claims nearly 5 million — to tell members of Congress of their opposition.

In GOP-heavy Louisiana, where Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is seeking re-election next year, the NRA wrote to its members, "Please contact Senator Landrieu and encourage her to oppose this anti-freedom legislation."

Counteracting that has been an effort by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, one of whose leaders is billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The group was running a television ad in Pennsylvania asking voters to contact Toomey and tell him to back expanded background checks. It also said it will keep track of key gun-related congressional roll calls and make the information available to voters and contributors — a tactic long used by the NRA and other groups.

___

Associated Press writers Nedra Pickler, Jim Abrams, Andrew Miga and Henry C. Jackson contributed to this report.

 

Comments

AJ Oliver

Once again, we get deception from the Righties. Mr/Ms anonymous arnmcrmn's point number two compares apples to oranges. The US is off the chart for gun violence in comparison to DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. If guns are supposed to keep us safe, we should be the safest developed country, right?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...
(Of course if the righties get their way, we won't be a developed country for long.)

Factitious

The wingnuts don't let facts get in the way of a bogus argument. For awhile in the rightist blogosphere, it was argued that guns made people safer because Switzerland trains most males to shoot and makes them keep a gun, yet "they have the lowest incidence of gun violent in the world." The TRUTH? Among developed countries, only USA, Chile, and Turkey are worse than Switzerland. They are far and away the worst in Europe, even though they SEVERELY restrict ammo and multiple gun ownership.

Don't misunderstand me. Personally, I'm skeptical about whether restricting the ownership or the capabilities of constitutional-protected arms solves the problem. But it's irresponsible and reckless to promoted gun ownership for safety, when in fact, domestic weapons make people LESS safe. The industry is cashing in. They conceal the dangers of gun ownership. They promote irresponsible ownership, shooting for kicks, and trafficking, and they have blood on their hands.

We can preserve our political right to keep and bear arms without the bloody, moneymaking orgy.

YAWWNN

You mean like the idiot lefties comparing owning a gun to a Nuke? I rest my case.

concernedtruth

CHICAGO, THE HIGHEST MURDER RATE IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE STATE THAT OUR ILLUSTRIOUS PRESIDENT IS FROM AND HAS THE STRICTEST GUN LAWS, GEE SOMETHING ISN'T WORKING, DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD MAKE SOME CHANGES ABOUT THAT INSTEAD OF LEGAL GUN OWNERS. YOU STUPID IDIOTIC LEGISLATIVE MORONS.

YAWWNN

Don't bother, liberals never let facts get in the way of their anti-gun agenda. They have been using the falsified data put out by the Brady Campaign for so long that they now believe it.

coasterfan

There is an excellent Opinion piece at CNN.com today that blows the NRA's morally reprehensible position out of the water. It also makes some very good points about how they deceive their small base of loud, but not very intelligent supporters. I urge all NRA members to have someone read the article to you.

YAWWNN

LOL, sort of like the gay rights activists and environmentalists? So you admit, all your little lefty special interest groups are nothing but a bunch of blowhards? That small organization has millions of members and far surpasses the membership or ANY group the libs have. Heck, the anti-gun organizations struggle to get 250,000 members combined.

your babies Daddy's picture
your babies Daddy

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

your babies Daddy's picture
your babies Daddy

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

YAWWNN

Like a baby to a nipple...latch on much? Like KnuckleDragger, done responding to your unintelligent gibberish.

your babies Daddy's picture
your babies Daddy

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

KnuckleDragger

5...4...3...2...1, a little birdie just told me you were banned. LOL. Maybe they'll let you back if you decide to play nice and contribute something meaningful.

The Big Dog's back

Brady isn't a Liberal!

KnuckleDragger

Who said Brady was? The ignorance of the left is simply mind-numbing.

The Big Dog's back

So Brady is a conservative?

coasterfan

91% of Americans are in favor of universal background checks for gun purchases. Once again, GOP lawmakers justdon't seem to understand that they speak for a very small cross-section of Americans.

bullydogs1971

that is a bs statistic and you know it!

arnmcrmn

91% of Americans don't even vote for our presidential race every 4 years. Actually, its not even close to that. 91%.....lol.

YAWWNN

LOL, 91% of 500 residents polled in an urban area. Yup, I've looked at the marist poll breakdown and they had to really over sample inner city residents to get that number. If I did a poll and my sample had an 85% to 15% ratio of rural to urban residents, what do you think the outcome would be?

deertracker

Keep reading the polls. How did that work out for ya last November?

YAWWNN

That's my point, the poll that says 91% are for it is incorrect.

KURTje

Brady was Ron Reagan's favorite vegetable.

bullydogs1971

hey while we are arguing about whether or not citizens should be able to have "assault weapons"....we have a president with a kill list and great big scary drones carrying out these "hits" on terrorist and murdering innocent civilians (collateral damage)....but no one wants to talk about that....OUR PRESIDENT IS LEADING THE CHARGE TO DISARM US! This mass murdering coward wants your guns...this coward has order hits that have murdered over a hundred children...WANT A LIST OF THEIR NAMES!?!?

http://www.policymic.com/article...

So this is the person who wants YOUR guns???gonna give em to em?? I say put theirs down first!

Kimo

I have a greater chance of being killed by some kook with a gun that some kook with a nuclear warhead.
Gun industry is feeding both sides of this war.
They are in a win win situation.
I owned guns before most of you posters were hatched.
I still own guns but you would be hard pressed to convince me that an assault type gun makes the USA a safer place to live.
I do not live in the fear that anyone is going to take away any of my guns.
I do have concerns about the number of armed Rambo minded kooks that are roaming the streets, and business's that I frequent.

The gun industry is winning and will continue to play on people fears to keep winning.

end of story
.

shucks

Well said Kimo.

YAWWNN

But werent you just on here earlier comparing the two? Please tell us Kimo how many of these "armed Rambo Kooks" (we know you are talking about CCW holders) have caused any problems in these so called businesses you frequent? You can't, because it happens so rarely. You have more of a chance of getting struck by lightening in the businesses you frequent than shot by a socalled "armed Rambo." Bet you still believe the blood in the streets argument don't you.

goofus

Holy Moley, guys with 50 cal machine guns and ammo belts dangled around their chest have invaded businesses on Catawba Island, just ask old Kimo.

goofus

Hey Krusty, you have a secret admirer!!!!! And he's a flaming lib like yourself.

KURTje

Kimo 1. yawn 0

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