There have been several times in recent weeks in which efforts to reduce gun violence appeared to be faltering, only to have their efforts improve soon after. For now, however, an effort to expand background checks is still struggling to overcome Republican opposition.
There was a possibility that a Senate vote on the measure would occur today, but that now appears unlikely, in large part because proponents want more time to rally support. Their task grew more difficult yesterday.
Four Republican senators who were on the fence about a bipartisan compromise on gun control said on Monday they would now oppose the measure.
Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Richard Burr of North Carolina told CNN of their plans regarding the deal struck by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, to expand background checks to private transactions at gun shows and in online sales.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced his decision on his Facebook page.
The Huffington Post has a running head-count, and as of this morning, the measure has 52 supporters, 39 opponents, and nine senators who remain undecided. That leaves proponents with a very narrow margin for error – to overcome Republican obstructionism, the amendment will need 60 votes, suggesting eight of the nine undecided votes will have to side with the majority.
It’s also worth noting that Senate Republican leaders will not urge their members to oppose the proposal – Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said yesterday his caucus members should “vote their conscience” – which may help take some of the pressure off undecided GOP senators, but if the head count is any indication, nearly all Republicans will oppose the plan anyway.
They will, of course, be ignoring public opinion, which overwhelmingly supports new gun-safety reforms.