Schumer's Gun Control Plans Meet A West Virginia Roadblock

Schumer's Gun Control Plans Meet A West Virginia Roadblock
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

As per usual, Democrats are in a hissy over gun control. That’s normal after a mass shooting, and while I don’t approve of it, I get it. It’s especially understandable for those who feel some connection to the incident. Again, I get it. I’ve been there.


It wasn’t a surprise when politicians started making promises about guns.

It’s concerning, though. After all, Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House. They’ve got the majority, and that’s emboldening Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to make some of those promises.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday morning to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.

“This Senate will be different,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said a day after a shooting at a crowded Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, killed 10 people, including a police officer. “The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

Well, that means it’s a done deal, right?

Not really.

You see, there’s this guy in the Senate named Joe Manchin, and he’s not really a fan of this background check bill.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that he does not support House-passed legislation to expand background checks to all gun sales.

“What the House passed? Not at all,” Manchin said, when asked if he supports the legislation.

The House passed two bills this month: one to extend the window for completing a background check before a gun sale and a second that would extend background checks to all sales and transfers. However, the second bill provides exemptions including for transfers between family members, responding to an immediate threat or temporary transfer for hunting.

Manchin, however, suggested he wanted a bill that provided a bigger carve-out for private sales between individuals who know each other.

“I come from a gun culture. I’m a law-abiding gun owner,” Manchin said, adding that he supports “basically saying that commercial transactions should be background checked. You don’t know a person.”


So, as it stands, Schumer isn’t going to be able to get what he wants. Oh sure, he can bring the bills to the floor for a debate, but they’re not going to pass.

Instead, the legislation will either die or they provide Manchin what he wants to get him to back some kind of gun control.

Now, the latter is a distinct possibility, but then you still run into the filibuster. Will there still be enough Republicans willing to vote with Democrats to push something like a Manchin-Toomey background check bill (which would require background checks for all “commercial” sales of firearms) through?

I’m not so sure. While universal background checks often poll fairly well among Republican voters, it would still require GOP senators to cross the clearly divided lines at a time they’re being vilified just for existing. I don’t think Schumer is going to be willing to go so far as to try and make anything particularly attractive to those senators, so don’t look for a vote on cloture.

Schumer can make all the promises he wants to, but at the end of the day, he doesn’t really have the say in the matter he thinks he does.


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