Manchin-Toomey anti-gun rights amendment defeated; "Assault weapons" & "high capacity" magazine bans defeated

This article was updated as new information became available.

by Chad D. Baus

The United States Senate has failed to achieve the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster of the Manchin-Toomey amendment to Chuck Schumer's "universal background checks" bill, S. 649. The amendment, which was supported by Sen. Schumer, had been hailed by the media just last week as the best chance of getting a gun control bill through the Senate.

Crafted by a Sens. Manchin (D) and Toomey (R), the amendment sought to enact a mandatory background check on private sales at gun shows and between persons who initiated a transaction on the Internet and to increase the ways in which the government could begin a gun registration scheme.

All amendments required 60 votes to pass -- none passed. The vote on the anti-gun rights Manchin-Toomey amendment was 54-46. Continuing in his record of pro-gun rights votes, Sen. Rob Portman voted against this attempt to curb the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

Less than two hours later, an amendment sponsored by Sen. Diane Feinstein which would have banned hundreds of so-called "assault weapons" based on cosmetic features, was defeated by a 40-60 vote. Also defeated was an amendment that sought to ban standard capacity magazines for many rifles and handguns, 46-54.

Democrats successfully filibustered several pro-gun rights amendments, including National Concealed Carry Reciprocity, defeated 57-43, and and improvement for Veterans' Gun Rights, defeated 56-44.

Given the vote on the Manchin-Toomey gun control amendment, it is highly unlikely that the Senate will achieve the 60 votes necessary to pass S. 469.

A statement from Sen. Portman follows:

Portman: Manchin-Toomey Amendment Punishes Law-Abiding Ohioans But Would Not Prevent The Kind Of Heartbreaking Loss of Life Seen In Newtown

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today issued the following statement regarding the amendment introduced by Senators Toomey, Manchin, Schumer and Kirk expanding background checks:

"Having carefully reviewed the Manchin-Toomey legislation, unfortunately, I do not believe it would be effective in preventing the kind of heartbreaking loss of life seen in Newtown or in other recent tragic incidents. It does, however, contain several provisions that would make it more difficult for law-abiding Ohioans to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. I do believe there are actions Congress can and should take to reduce gun violence without infringing on Second Amendment rights, and I look forward to supporting such amendments.

"This includes legislation that not only helps ensure those suffering from mental illness have access to the treatment they need, but also enforces and improves rules already on the books that limit their ability to threaten themselves and their communities. For instance, I will be supporting amendments to improve background checks by strengthening state reporting of individuals who courts have found to be mentally ill.

"As we continue the debate, I also look forward to supporting legislation to improve school safety and to crack down on gun trafficking and on those who knowingly bypass current law to get weapons in the hands of violent criminals.

"I also strongly support efforts to address the underlying problem of violence and the glorification of gun violence in popular culture."

And from the NRA:

Statement from Chris W. Cox on U.S. Senate Defeat of Manchin-Toomey-Schumer Amendment

Today, the misguided Manchin-Toomey-Schumer proposal failed in the U.S. Senate. This amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution. 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.

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. 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.

And finally, commentary from the Outdoor Wire's Jim Shepherd:

Failure & Finger-Pointing

With yesterday's failure of two alternative background check measures, it is becoming readily apparent that passage of more restrictive laws on law-abiding firearms owners are far easier to tout than they are to pass.

The Manchin-Toomey amendment failed first, going down by a 54-46 vote. Shortly thereafter, by a 52-48 vote , the Grassley-Cruz amendment hit the bottom of the same dust bin. Two other measures, one of which would have made state concealed weapons permits acceptable throughout the country, and a proposal to limit the number of rounds in magazines, also failed.

And it took nearly no time for both sides of the gun rights issue to check in with their respective perspectives.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg used Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) to circulate a statement calling the votes "a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have in Washington." As the sole bankroll behind MAIG and the man who's ponied up $12 million to campaign for gun control, it sounded more like Bloomber was miffed that his tossing endorsement- accompanied by his not-insignificant financial resources - wasn't enough to pass any measure.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California wasted no time lambasting her colleagues for not passing any gun control measures. She also challenged them to "show some guts." Apparently, that challenge worked, with 60 of the 100 Senators risking her ire by voting down her bill to ban "assault weapons".

Even before the votes, the Second Amendment Foundation had pulled its endorsement of Manchin-Toomey. That's the same SAF that surprised the industry and angered many gun owners with a weekend announcement saying it not only endorsed the Manchin-Toomey amendment, it had helped write it.

On Monday, SAF exec Alan Gottlieb told The Outdoor Wire that support was contingent on the addition of key amendments. When they amendment weren't added yesterday, the SAF bailed.

"Our support for this measure was contingent on several key provisions, the cornerstone of which was a rights restoration provision that is not on the schedule for consideration," said a frustrated Gottlieb.

"This is not a reflection against Senators Joe Manchin or Pat Toomey...But it appears the Democratic leadership in the Senate was opposed to letting this important consideration come up for a vote," he said.

"We told everyone including a number of senators, that while there are many pro-gun rights provisions added to the main body of the bill, our support was contingent on this additional amendment coming to the floor. When we say something, we mean it."

The National Rifle Association, unequivocal in its opposition to both measures, quickly restated its position via NRA-ILA Exec Chris Cox:

"Today, the misguided Manchin-Toomey-Schumer proposal failed in the U.S. Senate. This amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution. 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.

"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. 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 stark contrast, a visibly angry President Obama took to the White House steps after the vote, calling the vote a "pretty shameful day for Washington" and accusing the "gun lobby and its allies" of willfully lying about the bills.

Senators opposing the gun controls, Mr. Obama said, "caved to the pressure."

Yesterday's actions were a major setback for the administration and supporters of gun control, but a broader package is still alive in the Senate.

That was the gist of a message released last night by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (it appears in today's news section). "Today's votes do not represent the end of the discussion in Congress or in American. NSSF looks forward to moving ahead with the work that remains to be done to try and make our families safer and preserve our firearms freedoms."

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