Not willing to go gently into that good night, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is vowing to bring back his expanded background check bill to the Senate floor for another vote.
In an interview Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Manchin touted the merits of the proposal, which would require criminal background checks for all gun purchases made over the Internet or at gun shows, arguing that law-abiding gun owners will “love this bill.”
“I’ve gone down and worked the bill into the coal fields, into the gun–friendly West Virginians that I hunt with, and sport shoot with,” said Manchin. “And all of them to a “T,” when they saw the bill, this basically not only protects your Second Amendment rights, it expands your Second Amendment rights.”
However, despite the supposed popularity of the bill, it failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican-led filibuster, falling short by 6 votes (54-46) earlier this month.
Wallace asked how the next time around, the next vote on the proposal would be different. In response, Manchin explained how the bill needed to be more streamlined and less confusing to the both lawmakers and the American people.
“The bill needs to be clean, I believe,” said Manching. “That’s my belief, that if the bill runs clean and people can vote on this bill up or down based on the merits of this bill, how it protects a gun, a Second Amendment gun person, a law-abiding gun owner, it’s perfect for that person.”
Though, there’s also another hiccup that could potentially derail the bill’s comeback. That is, signs of resignation and defeat from the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
“The senate has had its vote,” Toomey said on Friday in an interview with Philly.com. “We’ve seen the outcome of that vote. I am not aware of any reason to believe that if we had the vote again that we’d have a different outcome.”
When questioned about Toomey’s reservations about the fate of the proposal, Manchin was adamant that his friend from the other side of the aisle was still on board.
“I don’t think he’s done,” Manchin said. “I was with Pat last night, and Pat’s totally committed to this bill. And I believe that with all my heart. And we’re gonna work this bill.”
To shore up support for version 2.0 of their proposal, to get those six remaining votes from their peers in the Senate, Manchin and Toomey will have to clear the following hurdles:
The NRA is playing hardball. The nation’s gun lobby will not give an inch in on this issue. Moreover, the NRA has promised to punish any lawmaker that supports a measure that undermines one’s right to keep and bear arms. Senators who rely on their NRA ‘A’ rating to get reelected are not going to support a bill that the NRA deems an affront to the Second Amendment.
Manchin and Toomey still have yet to figure out a way to convince lawmakers, including Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV), to abandon the NRA and join the push for expanded background checks.
Objections from Gun Rights Groups
Forget about the mighty NRA for a moment, there are several key gun organizations that oppose the M-T agreement for very specific and legitimate reasons.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, criticized the bill, citing concerns over “provisions that do not address our product liability concerns for retailers processing private party transfers and retailer record-keeping responsibilities that also expose them to possible license revocation for even simple mistakes.”
In other words, the bill unnecessarily puts gun shop owners and dealers (FFLs) at risk of being liable for private sales that they facilitate.
Also, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which initially backed the proposal after sitting down at the negotiating table with Manchin and Toomey, pulled its support at the last minute upon learning that a key contingency over rights restoration was not going to be included in the final draft of the bill.
Bottom line, Manchin and Toomey need to address these concerns and win over these less ideologically driven pro-gun organizations if they really want to get a portion of the gun community to embrace the measure.
Would this expanded background check bill have prevented the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT?
No. In fact, despite what some have argued, there isn’t a whole lot of empirical evidence to suggest that this bill would do anything to curb gun-related violence. It’s common sense, but if a criminal or felon fails to pass a background check, does he or she just simply give up on obtaining a firearm?
Not a chance.
Besides, Daniel Webster of the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research conducted a study in 2004 that showed among offenders who were incarcerated from crimes committed with handguns, only 1.7 percent claimed to have obtained their weapon at a gun show or a flea market.
Where do the vast majority of criminals get their guns? According to Webster’s study, 11 percent get them from a licensed dealer, 39.5 percent from friends or family, 37.5 percent the black marked or ‘the street,’ and about 9.9 percent are stolen.
Beyond everything else, Manchin and Toomey still need to convince gun owners why their proposal is even needed. On a tangential note, crime – violent crime, property crime, the homicide rate – has been uniformly declining for the past two decades.