Following Outrage Over Failure Of Background Checks Bill, Senators Now Say They May Back It

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (Credit: NY Post)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) — the chief sponsor of a measure to expand background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and online — told CBS on Tuesday morning that he was optimistic that the amendment could pass the Senate with small “adjustments.” His comments come as at least two Republican senators who helped vote down the proposal in April signal they may be open changing their votes.

“I truly believe the background check bill is possible to get,” Manchin said on CBS’s This Morning, noting that some lawmakers “are afraid it will infringe on family transfers.” “We’ll clarify that language,” he promised. “When you transfer to family directly or online, it would be basically not subjected to the background check because that’s a personal transaction with a family member.”

Indeed, senators who saw their poll numbers plummet following the April vote and are facing a barrage of advertising from gun safety groups and pressure from the families of gun violence victims, may be reconsidering their opposition — if the amendment is slightly changed.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) indicated to CNN that he is concerned about a current provision that would require family members or friends who swap guns online to undergo background checks and hinted that he may reverse his position if that language were altered. Aides to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) has also signaled that the senator may be open to compromise, leading Manchin to assure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “there were now more votes in support of the plan.”

Senate aides say the background check proposal may come back to the Senate floor “this month after consideration of an Internet taxation bill, or this summer after wavering senators have had enough time to reconsider their position.”

Advocates hope that a strong bipartisan vote for the amendment in the Senate will force House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to break the so-called Hastert rule and allow a vote on the measure in the more conservative House of Representatives. There, the amendment may not win the support of most Republicans, but could pass with overwhelming Democratic support. The House version of the Manchin compromise currently more than 120 co-sponsors, including three Republicans.