by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon reports on a new challenge for congressional Democrats seeking more gun control.
Senate Democrats punted on taking up House gun-control bills on Friday, acknowledging that the restrictions put forward by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) were “dead on arrival,” according to senior Senate aides.
Facing pressure from gun-control activists and Democratic elected officials alike, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told colleagues on Thursday he would bring background check legislation to the floor shortly after the Senate returns for business on April 12. But with Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), and Susan Collins (R., Maine) publicly stating their opposition to House-passed background check bill H.R. 8, Democrats must find a viable replacement. The political environment makes that a nearly impossible task, according to multiple Senate aides.
A senior Republican aide said H.R. 8’s requirement that licensed gun dealers perform background checks nearly every time someone sells or even lends a gun to another person is a non-starter.
“H.R. 8 is just dead on arrival,” a senior Republican staffer said. “Period. It doesn’t have the votes. Not only does it not have the votes quietly it doesn’t have the votes loudly because Manchin and Toomey are out there opposing it.”
Staunch opposition has led to speculation that Democratic leadership will revive a bipartisan 2013 bill that would only apply background checks to private sales. Democratic threats to abolish the filibuster to ram through gun-control legislation could alienate Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), a sponsor of the 2013 background check bill, according to a senior aide.
“Senator Toomey is not interested in playing political games or being an example in a background check exercise,” the aide said. “He’s interested in achieving an actual outcome.”
In 2013, Toomey not only cosponsored the amendment to extend background checks to private sales but also played a leading role in selling the policy to voters and fellow senators.