President Biden’s calls for the Senate to pass aggressive background check and assault weapons ban bills face an uphill battle with a key Democrat already voicing disapproval.
Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said on Tuesday he could not support the pair of Biden-backed background check bills the House had already passed.
“No, not at all,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday when asked if he could vote in favor of the House legislation.
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Passing a gun control law has been notoriously difficult in the Senate, where it takes 60 votes to get things done while the legislative obstruction is in place. As progressives put tremendous pressure on Democrats to break down filibuster in order to pass big reforms to a simple majority, it was clear on Tuesday that Biden and the 50-member Democratic caucus were not united on the best way to go about firearms.
Biden on Tuesday called on the Senate to pass an assault weapons ban and two expanded gun background checks the House passed earlier this month. He stressed the urgency to act after another mass shooting in America, this time in Boulder, Colorado, where 10 people died.
“It’s not and shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Biden said. “It’s an American problem that will save lives, American lives. And we must act. ”
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House bills extend federal firearms background checks on all firearms sales and extend the background check review period from three days to a minimum of 10 working days.
Manchin, instead, wants to see a resumption of his compromise legislation from 2013 with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., Who focused on closing loopholes in commercial firearms sales but did not demand background check to apply to family and friends who donate or sell guns. each other.
“I come from a gun culture. And I’m a law-abiding gun owner [who] would do the right thing “, said Manchin explaining his more” reasonable “proposal.” You have to assume that we will do the right thing, give me a chance to do it [it]. So I’m still where Pat Toomey and I have been. ”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Tuesday he had not spoken with the White House about a ban on assault weapons. Such a ban is not among the pair of House bills that were passed earlier this month.
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Instead, Schumer said his goal was to bring in a universal background check bill, but admitted he was still working with Senators on the details.
“We will find the best way forward,” Schumer said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Republicans were quick to point out divisions within the Democratic Party over guns.
“I share Joe Manchin’s opposition to the version that was passed in the House,” GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky said on Tuesday.
Despite coronavirus lockdowns that have closed schools, nightclubs and concert halls, gun deaths in the United States have increased dramatically during the pandemic, according to data tracked by the Gun Violence Archive.
In 2020, there were 19,380 non-suicidal gun deaths in America, up from 15,208 in 2019.
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Mass shootings of four or more people also increased from 417 to 611 last year, fueled by drive-by shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
“2020 has been a surprisingly more active year,” Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive, told Fox News. “We expected those in attendance to offer fewer filming opportunities, and the opposite happened. ”
Morgan Phillips of Fox News contributed to this report.