Stricter firearm bill misfires in the Democratic Senate

April 17, 2013

A rare piece of bipartisan firearm legislation met its end today in the Senate. The Democratic lead chamber failed to keep their party together, four members broke ranks and voted with Republicans to effectively kill the expanded background checks for those purchasing firearms.

The Manchin (D –WV)/Toomey (R-PA) amendment never really had a chance, even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voted no.

Condemnation was swift from the White House as the President said “it was a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

“Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children,” President Obama said. “And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.”

After the tragic Newtown school shooting that claimed 26 lives, the President has put a tremendous amount of political capital behind the push to expand background checks, limit ammunition magazines and ban the sales of certain types of weapons.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Obama angrily blamed Republicans for the 54-46 failure, however, Democratic Senators failed to pull the trigger and did it in. His angry statement suggested voters should remove those politicians who voted against the gun restriction bill, even if they were Democrat. “So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington. And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.”

A flurry of gun bill amendments also failed to garner the 60 vote threshold required to pass: a GOP proposal to extend gun rights for veterans, 56-44; a bipartisan stricter “straw purchaser” penalties, 58 to 42; a GOP-backed national conceal carry permit amendment, 57 to 43; and finally a Democratic amendment limiting the size of bullet magazines, 54-46.

However, the most controversial firearm restriction amendment to date came from California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein’s “assault weapon ban” as well as an arbitrary limit on magazine capacity. The amendment was soundly defeated.

This was especially good news for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) who strongly opposed Ms. Feinstein’s amendment that would have banned the sale of roughly 150 popular firearms.

“Unfortunately, a handful of positive, solutions-based amendments also failed to pass the Senate,” Mike Bazinet of NSSF said. “The NSSF-backed Grassley substitute amendment, which would have improved current law and fixed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), that fell short by one of the closer margins of today’s amendments.”

Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Susan Collins (MAINE), and Mark Kirk (ILL) joined co-author Pat Toomey, while Senators Mark Begich (AK), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Max Baucus (Mont) and Mark Pryor (AK) voted against the legislation.

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© Copyright 2013 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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