Is Threat Of Universal Background Checks Fading?

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

One of many threats hanging over the gun-rights world right now is the threat of universal background checks. The Democrats who control the House passed them. The Democrat in the White House wants them. Democrats in the Senate support it as well, and since that party controls all three places, it seemed the threat was very real.

The saving grace so far has been the filibuster. It’s kept gun control in check…which is part of why Democrats hate it right now.

Anyway, back to the threat of universal background checks. The threat is real. However, it seems it may be less of a threat going forward.

Sen. Chris Murphy, who’s been leading the charge to secure a long-shot bipartisan deal on a gun background checks bill, told CNN on Thursday he thinks “it’s close” to the point where “we’ve got to put a bill on the floor,” a signal that hopes for a bipartisan agreement have faded and Democrats are all but guaranteed to move forward with a vote on House-passed bills that have no chance of passing in the Senate.

The Connecticut Democrat noted that he hasn’t spoken to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about this timeline for a vote, but “in my head, that’s always been my timing.”

“I just don’t want to be involved in endless negotiations if we’re not getting to a conclusion,” added Murphy, who has been a vocal advocate for stricter gun control since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in his state.

Democrats hold a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate and would need significant GOP support to overcome a legislative filibuster. With House-passed gun bills unlikely to get the 60 votes needed to pass in the upper chamber, Democrats have held out hope for months on the possibility of a more narrow bipartisan deal expanding background checks on firearm sales.

“I think there’s clearly a point coming where we’ve got to put a bill on the floor — I think Senator Schumer’s been clear about that,” Murphy said, apparently referring to gun legislation approved by the House in March to expand background checks on all commercial gun sales. “We’re gonna work this work period and try to come to an agreement, but if we come back in June and we don’t have a bipartisan deal then I think we’ve got to move forward on universal or commercial sales.”

Of course, if there’s no deal in place, there’s no hope in hell of any bill on the floor actually passing.

Right now, backing gun control is likely to be a good way for a Republican to end their political career. Siding with Democrats on their bill isn’t likely to win enough votes to beat the filibuster.

Meaning that universal background checks just aren’t going to happen. Not under those circumstances.

This is good news, though, since Murphy has been saying for some time that he was confident that he could get 10 senators to cross the aisle and side with him. The change in rhetoric is slight but still significant. It’s clear that Murphy is starting to realize that the only way to get those 10 senators to cross is to give up more than he’s willing to.

If they put a bill on the floor, which they’re likely to do sometime later this year before the midterm campaigns gear up, it’s going to fizzle and the threat evaporates.

For now.

What becomes important is to retake the Senate in the midterms and end these threats to our Second Amendment rights for good.

Oct 20, 2021 5:30 PM ET