Gun reform bill at risk for further weakening

Updated
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, D-W.Va., left, and Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., arrive at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April...
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, D-W.Va., left, and Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., arrive at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April...
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

The Senate will not vote on gun reform Tuesday as previously scheduled, as the architects of the bill continue to scramble behind-the-scenes to collect votes in favor of tighter background checks for gun buyers.

Senate aides tell NBC News that Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin—the co-sponsors to a Senate bill tightening background checks on gun sales—are buying their time, possibly until Thursday, to come up with the votes, but their efforts to convert both Republicans and  red-state Democrats could go on into next week.

Manchin and Toomey, both grade “A”-rated senators under the National Rifle Association’s rankings, are now considering making changes to their bipartisan compromise in order to draw support from colleagues of rural regions in the country, NBC News reports.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, notably voted against opening debate on the reforms last week. He, along with Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor were the two Democrats to brake ranks on the initial hurdle on the legislation. Both senators are up for re-election in 2014.

The architects of the reforms are hoping to woo senators like Begich and his Alaskan colleague, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, by exempting residents who live hundreds of miles from a gun dealer from having to comply with the background checks on online and gun sales restrictions, The New York Times reported.

In what could put a wedge in the Toomey-Manchin deal is that Sen. Tom Corburn, an Oklahoma Republican, is planning on introducing a measure of his own on background checks. He does not have a Democratic sponsor for the measure.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at a political event in Tuscan two years ago, will be on the Hill to lobby senators Tuesday, but her planned press conference with Manchin was canceled after the events in Boston.

Reform supporters hoped Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake—a friend of Giffords—would join Democrats in favor of the compromise. But on Monday, Flake wrote on his Facebook page that though he supports background checks, he will be opposing the amendment.

Last week, 16 Republicans and two independents joined Democrats in bringing gun control to the floor, but by The New York Times’ count, “more than half a dozen have already decided not to support the measure.”

President Obama remained confident that gun legislation will successfully pass Congress.

“I think we’ve got a good chance of seeing it passed if members of Congress are listening to the American people,” Obama said in one-on-one interview with NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie taped prior to the bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday.

“The notion that Congress would defy the overwhelming instinct of the American people after what we saw happen in Newtown, I think, is unimaginable,” he said during the interview, which aired Tuesday.

Gun reform bill at risk for further weakening

Updated