Two and a half years ago, a gun-control amendment from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre failed to clear a 60-vote threshold 54-46.
On Thursday, the day after an attack on a county employees’ Christmas party in San Bernardino, the pair resurrected their background checks bill as an amendment to a measure to repeal Obamacare and strip some of Planned Parenthood’s funding.
It failed to pass, with 48 yeas and 50 nays.
Also offered to the Obamacare bill was an amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to ban those on the terror watch list from buying guns, which fell 45-54.
“While the recent mass shootings throughout our country have elevated the gun safety conversation, we cannot sacrifice our constitutional rights out of fear. It is our obligation to keep our communities safe and to protect our Second Amendment rights – and I truly believe we can and must do both,” Manchin said.
The amendment would have expanded existing background checks to gun shows and online sales, and created a commission to study the causes of mass violence.
“We need to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and the mentally ill while also bringing together a group of experts to look at all aspects of our culture of mass violence. Violence destroys the dignity, hopes and lives of millions of Americans,” Manchin continued. “We have a unique opportunity to stop this epidemic here and now – but only if we can put politics aside and take a look at all aspects of our culture of mass violence.”
“Our words will offer little comfort to the victims of mass violence everywhere. It is only through our actions that these families and communities across America may find solace. I am disappointed this vote failed, but I will continue to fight for commonsense reforms that protect law-abiding gun owners and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those adjudicated mentally ill.”
Toomey said he “nearly achieved a breakthrough” with Manchin in 2013. “I recognize that enhanced background checks are not going to stop all mass shootings,” the GOP senator said. “As we have seen, many of these attacks would still have happened even if our proposal was on the books. But some tragedies, such as the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, might have been prevented. And if there’s a sensible way to help keep the American people safer, I believe it deserves our support.”
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) supported the Manchin-Toomey amendment on Thursday.
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blasted Republicans as being “more afraid of the National Rifle Association than of FBI terror suspects buying assault weapons and explosives like those used in the Paris attacks and recent shootings in the United States.”
“By doing the NRA’s bidding, Republicans ensured that FBI terror suspects – individuals deemed too dangerous to board an airplane – can continue to buy assault weapons here in the U.S,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Republicans will have no one but themselves to blame if FBI terror suspects get their hands on the type of firearms we saw unleash horrific acts of violence on innocent people in San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Newtown, Fort Hood, Charleston and Paris.”