Breaking Down the Senate Gun Vote

The Editors | April 23, 2:27 pm

The Senate voted last week on a series of nine amendments to gun legislation, rejecting all but two and leaving the underlying legislation (S. 649) with no clear path forward.

A compromise measure to expand the federal background check system, carefully negotiated by Republican Patrick J. Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin III, fell short of the 60 votes required for approval. It received the support of four Republicans but lost five Democratic votes (including Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted no for procedural reasons once it was clear the amendment would fail).

Also narrowly defeated was a proposal by Democrat Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Republican Susan Collins of Maine to limit straw purchases. Proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines faced clearer opposition, with many more Democrats defecting and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois the only Republican voting for either amendment.

One of the two successful amendments would increase privacy protections of gun owners by withholding law enforcement grants from states that release data on gun ownership. The second, a reauthorization of mental-health programs, received near-unanimous support.

Reid signaled that Democrats would regroup and consider their options while the Senate turned to other business, leaving open the possibility of returning to the gun bill at some point in the future.

Interactive by Ted Benson