Senate Rejects Bipartisan Plan to Expand Background Checks, Assault Weapons Ban

Since his State of the Union address in January, President Obama has been asking lawmakers to debate and vote on plans to curb gun violence, and today it finally happened. As a result, none of the proposals — for or against gun rights —  gained enough votes for approval this afternoon.

Starting off, the U.S. Senate rejected the bipartisan plan to expand background checks. The Manchin-Toomey bill, which was recently proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), was supposed to be a compromise for those on either side of the gun debate.  It was also the centerpiece of the President’s gun control proposals. The final vote was 54-46, but a total of 60 votes were needed for it to pass.

The plan would have required a background check for most gun sales. The M-T amendment wouldn’t touch private sales or transactions made between family, friends or neighbors, but would effect sales and transactions made between complete strangers over the Internet or at gun shows, and would then require FFL-facilitated background checks.

Shortly after the vote the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox released a statement reiterating the organization’s arguments against the bill.

“As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools,” Cox said.

“The NRA will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats who are committed to protecting our children in schools, prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law, and fixing our broken mental health system,” he said. “We are grateful for the hard work and leadership of those Senators who chose to pursue meaningful solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems.”

In addition to rejecting the bipartisan proposal, the Senate also rejected the pro-gun counter proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), which was strongly endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The Grassley amendment would theoretically improve the availability of records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), address gun violence and mental illness in the criminal justice system, and end straw purchases and trafficking of illegal firearms.

Another big win for the pro-gun side was that the Senate rejected Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reintroduction of the Assault Weapons Ban with a final vote 40-60. The ban would have defined an “assault rifle” as a rifle that uses a detachable magazine and has more than one military characteristic. While it was understood that the Senator’s plan would not have had an immediate impact on gun violence, it was, theoretically, supposed to “dry up supply” of military-style guns and accessories over time.

On top of the AWB, the Senate rejected the amendment proposed by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The Lautenberg-Blumenthal amendment would limit magazine capacity to only 10 rounds.

Moving on, the Senate voted against a national concealed carry bill proposed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). If passed, the Cornyn amendment would allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms across state lines and within other states that also have conceal-carry laws.

Lastly, The Senate rejected an amendment that pertains to guns and veterans. Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) proposal would require a judicial authority to determine that an individual poses a danger to themselves or others before the VA may send their names to be listed in the FBI’s NICS as a prohibited person.

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