by Tanya Metaksa
As promised, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) brought up S. 649 for debate and votes in April. The stage was set on April 11 as the Senate voted to consider the bill by a 68-31 margin. Debate and votes began on April 17 with nine amendments scheduled for votes. The first vote was the Manchin-Toomey amendment (SA-715) with transfers of firearms to go through an FFL unless the transfer is between family, friends and a small number of other exceptions. This amendment would have replaced all of Reid’s bill. The threshold of 60 Aye votes was required as 14 senators had threatened to filibuster S. 649. SA-715 failed by a vote of 54-46. The Grassley Amendment (SA-725), to improve mental health records, failed 52-48. The Leahy amendment (SA-713), an assault weapons ban, failed 58-42. The Cornyn Amendment (SA-719), to allow Right-to-Carry reciprocity, failed 57-43. Diane Feinstein’s assault weapons ban (SA-711) failed 40-60. Sen. Burr’s Amendment (SA-720), protecting veterans, failed 56-44. Blumenthal’s amendment regulating magazine capacity (SA-714) failed 46-54. On April 18, more amendments were considered: Sen. Barrasso’s amendment (SA-717) to punish states and localities that release information on gunowners by withholding federal funds was approved 67-30 and Harkin’s amendment (SA-730) reauthorizing programs related to mental health passed 95-2. After that vote Reid announced, “I have spoken with the President. He and I agree that the best way to keep working toward passing a background check bill is to hit ‘pause’ and freeze the background check bill where it is…This will allow senators to keep negotiating. We had nine amendments yesterday. They were not easy to vote on–not for us or for the Republicans–and I understand that. But it was a good process by which to move forward and get some of these contentious amendments on both sides out of the way—voted on, rather, is a better way to phrase it. So we are going to come back to this bill.” Thus S.649 is NOT dead, but is awaiting another attempt by the US Senate to pass an onerous anti-gun bill.
The House of Representatives is not considering any gun control legislation until the Senate passes a bill. However, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), has introduced four bills, some of which she had introduced previously. HR-137 would create a federal database of prohibited persons; HR-138 bans magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds; HR-141 requires federal regulations as well as background checks at gun shows, and HR-142 bans mail order sale of ammunition with additional licensing and record keeping of “bulk” ammo purchases. Rep Jim Moran (D-VA) reintroduced a ban on all private transfers, HR-21. Two gun registration bills, HR-35 and HR-117, have been reintroduced.
The West Virginia legislature has adjourned. The legislature passed the following four bills: HB-2471, prohibiting any state agency during a declared state of emergency from restricting the lawful use of firearms or their confiscation; HB-2431, allowing persons with Right-to-Carry permits to buy firearms without a background check; SB-369, allowing persons with Right-to-Carry permits to carry in WV and increasing reciprocity for citizens of West Virginia; and SB-435, strengthening preemption by removing “grandfather” exemption to Charleston and other municipalities.