Gun Debate: Background Check Bill Will Fail Because of Political Cowardice

The Senate bill to expand background checks may fail Wednesday as it heads to the floor for a vote. The background check proposal is being fronted by Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey. The two appeared on the Sunday Morning talk show circuit this week as they attempted to drum up support for the expanded background check bill, but that support looks to be faltering. So what’s happened this week to cause support to dwindle? Political cowardice. 

Currently, the Manchin-Toomey doesn’t have enough votes to pass. At best Democrats have 55 votes, that is if all Democrats plus the two Independents support the bill. That means they will need five Republican Senators to support the bill, do they have that? Toomey, Mark Kirk, Susan Collins have signaled support for the bill. Other possible supporters include John McCain (R-A.Z.). Last week, 16 Republican senators voted for opening debate on this amendment. Now, 11 of those 16 have said they will oppose it. If you add to that the 31 Republican senators who voted to oppose debate on the bill, the Republicans already have the 41 votes needed to block any further debate on the bill.

What is being voted on today is not the bill itself but rather a vote to end debate the amendment. The vote to end debate requires 60 votes whereas the vote for final passage would only require 51. The Daily Beast says that there are currently nine amendments being considered, and each of those will require 60 votes before they can actually be voted on. 

In the attempt to gain more support there have been discussions about adding a rural exemption to the bill which would exempt gun sellers whose businesses are further than 100-miles away from a federal firearms licensee. This is an obvious ploy to try to get rural Republicans on board. Conservative Dems and Reps have flat-out refused to support the bill, citing their constituents as reasoning. That rationale doesn't add up, however, when you actually take a look at the bill. There's a good deal inside this amendment that should make gun proponents very happy. 

For example, the current amendment: 

-Doesn’t require background checks for private, non-commercial sales or transfers between family and friends. 

-Allows people to skirt the gun show requirement by merely exiting the gun show to make the sale. 

-Expands legal immunity to private sellers who don’t possess a commercial license. 

-Exempts individuals who have concealed-carry permits that were granted within the last five years.

-Further outlaws the creation of a National Gun Registry. 

Toomey and Manchin have spent much of this week in emotional closed-door meetings with their fellow Senators. Manchin was quoted on Wednesday morning as he discussed the outlook on the amendment, "We're just hoping the good Lord will enter their heart and maybe change a few."

This was arguably the best chance Republicans and Democrats had on agreeing to any amount of gun control. In the waining hours before the bill is voted on the true colors of these Senators are coming out as they determine that their own political welfare is more important then societal welfare. 

You can read the full text of the bill here:

Manchin-Toomey