How almost all the gun amendments failed

This post has been updated.

The Senate voted on seven out of nine pieces of gun legislation Wednesday afternoon. All the amendments required 60 votes to survive Senate procedural moves and ensure final passage, because of the way Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) chose to structure the vote. All seven failed. What happened? Here's a rundown of the amendments, how much support they got and which senators crossed the aisle for them.


Sens. Manchin and Toomey speaking on their background checks deal. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Background checks failed, 54-46: This was the big one, the bipartisan deal between Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand the national gun background check system. With 54 senators in support and 46 in opposition, it failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to move forward. That includes Reid changing his vote to 'no' so he can bring it back up at a later date, although he is not expected to do so.

Four Democrats opposed the amendment: Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Four Republicans supported it: Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Toomey.


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (Photo EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS)

Republican gun legislation failed 52-48: The main Republican alternative to gun control, proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Ariz.) failed with 52 senators in favor and 48 opposed. It would increase funding for criminal prosecution, school safety, and mental health resources and create a task force to go after felons who fail background checks. It would also criminalize trafficking and straw purchasing and increase the penalties for them. At the same time, the amendment would loosen gun restrictions by making it easier to purchase and carry guns across state lines. The National Rifle Association supported this legislation. Nine Democrats supported it: Baucus, Begich, Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Heitkamp, Mary Landrieu (La.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Pryor and Jon Tester (Mont.). Two Republicans, Kirk and Mike Lee (Utah) opposed.


This Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 picture shows part of a cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Gun trafficking failed 58-42: This legislation worked out by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) targets only gun trafficking. It makes gun trafficking a federal crime and strengthens the penalties against "straw purchasers" (people who buy guns for others who are not legally able to do so). The NRA is on board with this amendment as well, thanks to a compromise ensuring that guns can be bought as gifts or prizes. It failed with 58 votes in favor and 42 against, a bit of a surprise given the bipartisan and NRA support. Collins, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Kirk were the only Republicans in support. No Democrats voted against it.


Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Expanding concealed-carry failed 57-43: Sen. John Cornyn's "Constitutional Concealed Carry Act" would give gun owners the right to carry concealed weapons across state lines and into other states that also have concealed-carry laws without obtaining a new license. The Texas Republican argued that Democrats should support this reciprocity because getting a concealed-carry permit is a like a background check "on steroids." It failed 57 to 43. Baucus, Begich, Donnelly, Hagan, Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heitkamp, Landrieu, Manchin, Pryor, Tester, Mark Udall (Colo.), Tom Udall (N.M.), and Mark Warner (Va.) were the 13 Democrats in favor. Kirk was the only Republican opposed.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein introducing the assault weapons ban. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Assault weapons ban failed 40-60: This is Sen. Dianne Feinstein's legislation, which we've known for weeks has no chance of passage but that Reid promised to bring to a vote. It failed with 40 senators in favor and 60 opposed. Kirk was the only Republican to support the ban. Sixteen Democrats voted against it -- Baucus, Begich, Michael Bennet (Colo.), Donnelly, Hagan, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Tim Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu, Angus King (Maine), Manchin, Pryor, Tester, Udall, Udall and Warner. (King is an independent but caucuses with Democrats.)


Former POWs are honored at a ceremony at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., , April 9, 2013.. (AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Sharon Cantillon)

Expanding veterans' gun rights failed 56-44: This amendment from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) seeks to change the fact that veterans receiving benefits who are deemed unable to manage their own financial affairs are also barred from owning firearms. Under Burr's amendment, a court would have to determine that a beneficiary is a danger to him/herself or others. Opponents argue that it would make it easier for mentally ill veterans to obtain firearms. An attempt to make this change failed in last year's defense bill, and it failed again Wednesday 56 to 44. No Republican voted against it; the ten Democrats who voted for it were Baucus, Begich, Donnelly, Hagan, Heitkamp, King, McCaskill, Landrieu, Pryor, and Tester.

A ban on high-capacity magazines failed 46-54: A slimmed-down version of the assault-weapons ban which outlaws only high-capacity ammunition magazines was proposed by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). It failed with 46 senators in favor and 54 opposed. High-capacity magazines were part of the original Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004. Kirk was the only Republican to vote for it. Ten Democrats voted against it: Baucus, Begich, Donnelly, Hagan, Heitkamp, Landrieu, Manchin, Pryor, Tester, and Warner.

Protecting gun owners' privacy passed 67-30: This amendment, authored by John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), would limit the ability of state governments to release the names of gun owners. He cited a New York newspaper's publication of a map of local gun owners, using information received from county officials. It's the only of the gun amendments that actually deals with guns to pass. Twenty-two Democrats supported it: Baucus, Begich, Bennet, Bob Casey (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Donnelly, Hagan, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Tim Kaine (Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Pryor, Shaheen, Tester, Udall, Udall, Warner, and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Mental health funding passed 95-2: A proposal from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to improve mental health services in schools and boost support for suicide prevention programs. The amendment does not deal with guns at all. Lee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Utah) were opposed; Sens. Mo Cowan (Mass.), Lautenberg, and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) didn't vote.

Why did everything need 60 votes to pass? Because Reid didn't want amendments favored by gun rights advocates added to the overall package and weaken -- or kill -- everything. The hope was that background checks would survive and make it into the final bill; it did not.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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