Gun control bill clears first hurdle

Senate pushes legislation through.
Associated Press
Apr 12, 2013

Congress' most serious gun-control effort in years cleared its first hurdle Thursday as the Senate pushed past conservatives' attempted blockade under the teary gaze of families of victims of December's Connecticut school shootings.

The bipartisan 68-31 vote rebuffed an effort to keep debate from even starting, giving an early victory — and perhaps political momentum — to President Barack Obama and his gun control allies. Four months after 20 first-graders and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown were killed, relatives watching the vote from a gallery overlooking the Senate floor dabbed at tears and clasped hands, some seeming to pray.

Even so, few supporters of the legislation are confident of victory. Several weeks of emotional, unpredictable Senate debate lie ahead, and a mix of gun-rights amendments, opposition from the National Rifle Association and skepticism from House Republican leaders leave big questions about what will emerge from Congress. Foes of the proposed new restrictions say they would penalize law-abiding citizens and do nothing to curb gun violence.

"The hard work starts now," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who brought the legislation to the floor for debate.

Still, in a Congress marked by a notable lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, Thursday's vote was one of several displays of unusual rapport across party lines. In other examples not connected to the issue of guns:

—Negotiators for the two parties said they had reached agreement on the major elements of a Senate immigration bill they're expected to unveil next week.

—The top Republican in government, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, publicly disagreed with his party campaign chairman's criticism of Obama's budget proposal to trim future Social Security and Medicare benefits. Wednesday night, GOP senators left a White House dinner praising Obama for reaching out to them on his budget.

—Senators of both parties had a rare joint luncheon to honor Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee, on the 40th anniversary of his release from a North Vietnamese prison.

Hoping to bring pressure on Congress to act on gun control, supporters of new restrictions have been demonstrating in Washington. They have erected a mock graveyard with thousands of crosses on the National Mall, symbolizing victims of gun violence.

The Senate's firearms bill would subject nearly all gun buyers to background checks, add muscle to federal laws barring illicit firearm sales and provide slightly more money for school safety measures.

Excluded and facing near-certain defeat in upcoming votes were proposals to ban military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — factors in the Newtown killings some other recent mass shootings. But keeping those provisions out of the current legislation did not mollify critics.

Opponents said the remaining proposals were unwarranted intrusions on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, would be ignored by criminals and would do little to prevent future Newtowns. Obama's plans have received scant support from Republicans and many moderate Democrats, with many saying they prefer improvements in dealing with the mentally ill and stronger enforcement of existing laws.

"I'm not interested in a symbolic gesture which would offer the families of the Sandy Hook shootings no real solutions that they seek," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate's No. 2 Republican.

Congress hasn't approved major gun restrictions since enacting an assault weapons ban 19 years ago, a prohibition that lawmakers let lapse after a decade.

Some potential amendments could broaden gun rights and weaken supporters' backing for the overall bill.

One proposal is by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who say it would improve how the federal background check system blocks weapons from going to people with certain mental problems, though critics say it would make it harder in some cases to do so. Another possible amendment would require states to recognize permits for carrying concealed weapons issued by other states.

In Thursday's vote, 50 Democrats and 2 Democratic-leaning independents were joined by 16 Republicans in voting to begin debate on the legislation. Twenty-nine Republicans and two Democrats facing re-election next year in GOP-leaning states voted "no" — Alaska's Begich and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

After the roll call, Obama spoke by phone with some Newtown families and said he would "keep fighting for the votes they deserve," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

The Senate plans to debate an amendment Tuesday expanding background checks less broadly than the overall legislation would. Broadening the system to cover more transactions is the heart of the current effort on guns.

That amendment, a compromise between Sens. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., would subject buyers in commercial settings like gun shows and the Internet to the checks but exempt non-commercial transactions like sales between friends and relatives.

That accord, unveiled Wednesday, was designed to build bipartisan support for the legislation and seemed likely to do so. Toomey and Manchin are among the most conservative members of their parties and are both gun owners with NRA ratings of "A."

Toomey said Thursday he believes supporters of his compromise with Manchin would be able to beat back any filibuster attempt.

"Beyond that, I just don't know yet," he said on "CBS This Morning."

Gun-control groups have embraced the Manchin-Toomey compromise with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and they continued to applaud it on Thursday — while also expressing concerns about some provisions.

Besides the exemption for private sales, gun control advocates expressed displeasure with language letting gun dealers sell handguns to out-of-state customers, exempting some holders of permits for concealed weapons from background checks and shielding individuals who sell guns from some negligence lawsuits.

"We are optimistic that this bill will make a dramatic difference in reducing gun violence," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The NRA said it opposed the Manchin-Toomey compromise and warned senators that it would count votes on provisions it opposes in its evaluation of candidates that it provides its members, who the organization says number nearly 5 million.


Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Charles Babington and Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.




Go ahead, it's not going anywhere once it gets to the house. Can you say "Hastert Rule?" I knew you could:) Harry Reid is finally gonna get a taste of his own medicine.

your master

Slowley America catches up with the rest of the world.


Slowly is right. As usual, the Republican Neanderthals need to be dragged kicking and screaming from their 1950's world.

tell it how it is

You mean our 1787 world?

You probably won't even know what that means, as it obviously doesn't matter to you or any other liberal wackjob.


Here, let me change the words around a little in order apply it properly. "As usual, the tu tu wearing liberal democrats have an overwhelming propensity to give away our rights without making a peep." I chuckle, because this only has a small chance of clearing the Senate, and no chance at all of clearing the House. In fact, there is already a call in the house to make sure the speaker implements what is called "the Hastert Rule." which is similar to what Harry Reid has been doing for years. In other words, the speaker will refuse to allow any gun control measure to even make it to the floor. Sort of like how Reid has refused to allow any budget related measure from the house to ever make it to the Senate floor. Finally the Dems will get a taste of their own medicine.


while they are at it they should ban those tour buses.


My guess is they will get more background checks and that will be it. The third rail in politics are entitlement reform and guns, no Democrat or Republican is going to risk losing an election by touching either of these.

Pterocarya frax...

I really thought Senator Portman would come around on this cloture vote. I guess he will have to experience a mass shooting in his own family, before he will be able to understand.


Zing! An excellent point Ptero. Bill Maher nailed it when he said that Republicans have an inability to feel any empathy towards anyone who isn't like them - unless it's someone in their own family.


Empathy means nothing without action, and the Democrats have become masters at showing empathy and then doing nothing about it. So what you are advocating is to strip people of rights in order to show empathy? Maybe we should start with the first amendment since that seems to be the only one Dems care about.

S w Rand 2016

How does anyone have the time to pay attention to a comedian like Bill Maher and still feel that they've put in the time required to navigate the ocean of information out there adequately enough to be even reasonably informed in regards to shouldering the responsibility which comes with making a comment on a news article which may influence those who read it? I'd really like to know.

Oh, by the way.
You just got debunked.

Simple Enough II

So you think gun restrictions will resolve the problem, just like signs stating no weapons allowed on school grounds? Stop and think about this, I believe you will find each and everyone of these murderers was on psychotropic drugs like Antidepressents, stimulants, antipsychotics, moodstabilizers, you know the ones doctors perscribe for things like ADD/ADHD, Bipolar and the I'm just having a hard time dealing with everyday normal life" situations. These drugs can have serious side effects and no one is willing to address that, think about it what person does this kind of act then suddenly offs themselves?


All they did was an end run around this topic . In my eyes nothin is going to change
What good does back ground checks do anyhow ? Does anyone think that a thug is going to apply for a permit to buy a gun ? If you so maybe you need to get a brain .
The only thing back ground checks are going to do is help keep honest law bidding residents from their right to bare arms .
So Congress and Preisdent Obama , you need to go back to the table on this
The revised law says that the sellers are guns have to do back ground checks . But if I want to give or sell a gun to my brother . or friend or whatever , that find , no back ground check is needed . Hell thats what the thugs are doing to get these guns and clips . They arent going to worry about back ground checks and such . Its time Mr president and congress to get back and really come up with a law that is going to help and protect honest hard working people as well as our kids


gene44870, i believe to legally give or sell your weapon to another individual you have to take it to a gun dealer and have them do the transfer paperwork.

bored reader

My understanding is that you are not correct. At least for now, you can sell to anyone of age and legally able to possess a firearm. I bought one of mine off a Facebook site and met at Walmart.



tell it how it is

Very incorrect. My boyfriend just sold an AR a police officer actually for his son. No gun dealer needed.


Dear Gene: Will universal background checks stop all gun purchases by people who aren"t supposed to have them? No. Will they block more of these illegal sales than the current laws? Absolutely, and that's the reason 90% of Americans favor universal background checks. You're entitled to think that anyone who disagrees with you is stupid, but perhaps you should ponder, just for a second, the reality that more than 90% of Americans think your viewpoint is wrong.

We in the 90% understand the obvious: there are no background checks for sales at gun shows, Internet sales and private sales, which make up nearly 2/3 of gun sales. This is the same as building a fence around only 1/3 of your yard, and then telling me that your dog won't get out. People who aren't supposed to be able to buy guns (felons and mentally ill) aren't stupid. They know that they can still get guns any time they want, by simply buying iit through a dealer that doesn't have to do background checks. They just walk around the end of that fence which the NRA built around 1/3 of your yard. If you need a real example of an 'end run', look no further than your own viewpoint....

Simple Enough II

Sorry don't buy that anology.


has anyone paid any attention to what the majority of law enforcement are say. they dont want more gun control they know it will only take guns away from good people and thst the thugs and bangger will be the only ones with guns, come on people get a clue as to what is going on nobama wants us disarmed just like hitler wanted his people disarmed before WW 2


Hey Beerguy , you and I are the only ones that see this , and besides when was the last time you seen a thug filing for a permit to carrie a fite arm? That would be NEVER .
So what good is the gun controll bill that they have passed in the senate going to do ? Nothin accept protect the law makers that get donations from people like the NRA .
The NRA is only wanting to use this as an reason to up hold a part of the constition that was wrote back before any of us were born or even thought of and The writers of it in my eyes forseen all the things that are going on today , or I believe that they would have worded it differently
Yes I am a supporter of some of the constition but not all of it , and this is one thing that I am against and that is the right for anyone for any reason having a gun
Something needs to be done to look out for the people that are law bidding , and have tougher laws when it comes to these thugs that can get guns and shoot up our schools as well as kill people that are law bidding


Gene: First off, the word is "abiding", not "bidding". And I think you meant "bear arms", rather than 'bare arms', which describes how you look when wearing a short sleeve shirt. Please also learn the difference between "except" and "accept". And congrats on inventing a completely new word: Constition. Hint: you will have a better chance in discussions here if you don't come across as a stereotypical illiterate NRA redneck. We do agree on one thing: something does need to be done to protect the law-abiding people. Which is why you should support universal background checks, to keep guns away from people who shouldn't be allowed to own them.


... "bare arms" seems wrong because it's spelled like the animal, but that's the was is it... so in talks like this i always imagine people with the arms of a bear when they spell it that way. funny stuff in the middle of all the seriousness.

S w Rand 2016

Oh, so now it's just about universal background checks? No more attempting to ban "assault weapons" that are capable of receiving clips that hold more than 10 rounds, effectively banning 90% of the rifle and handgun makes and models that Americans own and purchase?

Nice. I am glad that Senators like Rand Paul got the attention of the public by standing up against Senate Democrats who, after passing a version of NDAA which included indefinite detention provisions and removing our right to trial by jury, proceeded to attempt passing another piece of inhumane legislation which would've effectively demanded that we be 90% disarmed.

It's just background checks now, though. They will have to harp on it now so as not to appear too obvious about covering up Senator Feinstein's initial intentions.
Would you like some of my popcorn?


If you are not a supporter of our full Constitution, maybe you should pack up and move.


I agree beerguy, and its only going to get worse

Finn Finn

Also agree with beerguy.

bored reader

Double like!!


When are you guys going to stop telling the big lie about your gun being taken from you? I agree the proposed legislation is mostly symbolic but so what. All this hitler talk is so tiresome. Relax, there's no black helicopter coming or massive raid on you in the middle of the night to take your legally, registered gun. You people really need to get a hobby or something.


Easy to orate on the virtues of the gun law when you actually trust this administration, however there is a lot of individuals that don't trust Obozo, or should I say Barry Soetero or Harrison J. Bounell. How do you know from the sitting president that he doesn't have black helicopters on the waiting areas of the desert. You forget, people voted for Hitler and his party.