Scrambling for support, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) are considering changing their plan to expand background checks for firearms purchasing.
One addition would “exempt residents who live hundreds of miles from a gun dealer” and appeal to Senators who are “weighing the political costs and benefits of a bill against the perception that they are chipping away at gun rights.” This consideration is most likely aimed at Senators Begich (D) and Murkowski (R) of Alaska, whose support is up in the air. Manchin was seen “huddling” with Alaska’s senators after a floor vote late last night.
Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, has been cool to new gun measures, and Senator Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a Republican from the state, voted against even proceeding to debate gun measures. Supporters of the background check amendment believe the exemptions for people who live far from gun dealers might appeal to them.
Senators are still working behind the scenes and negotiating before Toomey-Manchin will be brought to a vote later this week.
Some senators are advocating voting for a series of amendments in advance of the background check measure, allowing members to vote for or against proposals like a renewed assault weapons ban, a limit on high-capacity magazines and a new mental health provision before weighing in on the background check measure. Republicans are seeking their own amendments, including a measure that would make it easier to carry concealed weapons across state lines.
Manchin and Toomey spent time yesterday on the Senate floor convincing other Senators and “beating back” criticism they were looking to create a national gun registry.