Background checks 'absolutely' still alive in Congress, says Manchin

Mgn Online
Sunday, April 28, 2013 - 10:31am

A measure expanding background checks on gun sales that was defeated in the Senate two weeks ago can still be revised and approved in the chamber, one of the bill's authors argued on Sunday.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said the legislation he wrote with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania had caused confusion among his collegues, which contributed to its failure earlier this month.

"The only thing that we've asked for is that people would just read the bill. It's a criminal and mental background checks strictly at gun shows and online sales," Manchin said on "Fox News Sunday," saying the confusion arose from a misperception that gun owners' purchases would be tracked by the federal government.

Manchin and Toomey made similar pleas to their collegues ahead of the April 17 vote, but failed to garner enough support from Republicans and conservative Democrats to gain passage. Along with the background checks bill, a ban on assault weapons also went down in defeat.

Afterwards, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was shelving the proposed gun legislation without bringing it to a final vote, saying "the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit pause, and freeze the background check bill where it is."

"This will allow senators to keep negotiating," he said. A Senate Democratic leadership aide said at the time that Reid could still bring up the package of gun proposals again if circumstances change and he believes he has the votes for key provisions to pass.

Ramping up restrictions on gun sales was a top priority of President Barack Obama in the aftermath of December's deadly shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. The failure of the background check bill was seen as a major defeat of that particular facet of Obama's agenda.

On Sunday, Manchin said he still had the support of Toomey, the background check bill's co-author, and that with enough effort he could convince more lawmakers to support it.

"I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people read the bill," it will gain support, Manchin said. "I'm willing to go anywhere in this country, I'm going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don't like."
 

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