No, the gun fight is not over

Sam Stein reports:

Senate Democrats believe that they have several new votes in favor of a bill that would expand background checks for gun buyers, after weeks in which those who opposed the legislation faced strong political backlash at home.

…the bullish talk from Democrats — from leadership on down — is yet another indication that the party feels good about the fallout from the failed gun vote and is increasingly eager to try again.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid prompted the latest round of legislative speculation during a sit down interview with The Las Vegas Review Journal this past weekend, a portion of which was provided to The Huffington Post.

“Joe Manchin called me yesterday,” Reid said. “He thinks he has a couple more votes.”

One of these votes currently in play may be Senator Johnny Isakson, who sponsored a background check bill on the state level in Georgia. A gun control advocate who met with Senator Isakson today tells me that he said he is open to voting for Manchin-Toomey if and when it comes up again — and that he is in active talks with Senator Joe Manchin about the measure.

Piyali Cole, a senior official with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, met with Senator Isakson today, along with three other gun control advocates, asked him why he had voted against Manchin Toomey, and whether he’d be open to voting for it if changes were made.

“He said he is working with Manchin Toomey on a regular basis on the bill — he said he’s definitely having conversations with them,” Cole tells me. “When we asked him directly, is he going to vote for the Manchin-Toomey compromise bill when it’s reintroduced, he said he did not know but said he was definitely open to it.”

I’ve asked for comment from a spokesperson for Isakson, who could very well provide a very different account of the meeting, obviously.

In the interview referenced above by Stein, Reid points to Kelly Ayotte as someone who is taking a hammering at home over her No vote. And a source tells Stein that Mark Pryor is one of the Senators in private talks with Manchin over a future vote. Meanwhile, Senator Rob Portman is taking something of a beating over his No vote, though it is not clear whether that’s having an impact.

To be sure, this is very little grounds, by itself, for hoping for future passage of Manchin-Toomey. After all, Dems need to flip five senators to break the GOP filibuster. There is no talk of another vote on a new version of Manchin-Toomey, and there won’t be any talk of any such vote until it’s clear that more senators can be flipped.

But it is clear that Dem leaders really do want to hold another vote, that conversations are continuing, and that a few senators may be open to changing their stance. This will only encourage the gun reform forces to keep up the pressure, which is key, since they must prove they are able to sustain organization and energy if they are to have any hope of long term success.

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UPDATE: Isakson spokesperson Lauren Culbertson responds:

The Manchin-Toomey proposal would have to be significantly reworked before Sen. Isakson could even begin to consider it, as he has major concerns with its potential impact on private sales and on privacy issues. He remains very committed to protecting the unfettered Second Amendment rights of Georgians and of all Americans.

 

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