The Machin/Toomey proposal to expand background checks on firearm purchases was clearly the highest-profile gun measure considered in the Senate yesterday, but it wasn’t the only one. In all, seven separate amendments were brought to the floor, each needing 60 votes. All seven failed, including measures on magazine size and straw-purchasing penalties.
In an ironic twist, of the seven amendments, the one that received the highest number of votes (57) was Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) proposal on interstate reciprocity for concealed-carry permits. In other words, four months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, one of the more popular ideas was weakening limits on guns.
Today, the remaining two amendments were actually approved. Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) amendment to punish state or local governments that that disclose gun owners’ information passed 67 to 30, followed by an unusually lopsided vote.
The Senate voted 95-2 for an amendment to the gun control bill that would address mental health issues.
The amendment, introduced by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), expands federal mental health programs, including in education, suicide prevention, substance abuse and trauma centers.
“Mental health problems often begin at a young age — however, less than half of the children identified with mental health issues receive treatment,” Harkin said ahead of the vote. “This lack of treatment has consequences. … The shame in this is that with access to the right treatment and supports, people can lead healthy and productive lives.”
Alexander said the amendment passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously.
Who were the two senators who inexplicably voted against this? Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.).