EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 17, 2013

Senate plans gun background check vote today


While all states but Illinois, plus the District of Columbia, issue permits or have other arrangements for permitting concealed weapons, nine states don’t recognize permits from other states. Gun rights defenders say making it easier to move firearms between states is protected by the Constitution, while opponents complain it would hurt states that have stricter standards for permits than others.

The amendment requiring states to recognize concealed weapons permits from elsewhere was being sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader.

Using procedural moves, opponents would need just 41 of the Senate’s 100 votes to derail the Manchin-Toomey background check plan.

Thirty-one senators voted last week to completely block debate on overall gun legislation. Just two were Democrats — Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska.

If all 31 vote against the Manchin-Toomey measure — which is not certain — opponents would need just 10 more votes to prevail.

So far, 11 of 16 Republicans who voted last week to let debate on the gun bill begin have said they will oppose Manchin-Toomey. That would give foes of expanded background checks 42 potential votes — one more than they need to win.

Still uncertain is support from some Democrats from GOP-heavy states, including Max Baucus of Montana, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Baucus and Landrieu face re-election next year.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Manchin, Toomey and their allies were still hunting supporters.

“We’re working to get 60, and it’s fluid,” Vice President Joe Biden told reporters, citing the number of votes his side would need to prevail.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, was among several in his party who cited emotional speeches by other senators in their lunch Tuesday as giving hope to supporters of expanded checks.

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