Politics

April 16, 2013

Republican opposition grows to background checks

A few Republican U.S. senators, including Susan Collins, support expanded background checks.

By ALAN FRAM / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Pat Toomey, Joe Manchin
click image to enlarge

Sen. Joe Manchin

HIGH COURT STAYS OUT OF GUN DEBATE

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court is staying out of the gun debate for now. The justices on Monday declined to hear a challenge to a strict New York law that makes it difficult for residents to get a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. The court did not comment in turning away an appeal from five state residents and the Second Amendment Foundation.

-- The Associated Press

Flake has been a primary target of pressure from gun control groups. He comes from the same state Giffords represented until she was severely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. In addition, Flake's senior colleague, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he is leaning strongly toward supporting the background check plan.

Opponents say expanded checks would violate the Constitution's right to bear arms and would be ignored by criminals. They are forcing supporters of the background check plan to win 60 of the Senate's 100 votes, a high hurdle.

Fifty Democrats and two Democratic-leaning senators voted last week to begin debate. If all of them support the Manchin-Toomey plan – which is not guaranteed – they would still need eight additional votes.

So far, three Republicans who backed beginning debate have said they will vote for the Manchin-Toomey plan: Toomey himself and Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., missed last week's vote after saying he was suffering from muscle weakness, but spokesman Caley Gray said he hopes to be in the Senate for votes this week.

Two Democrats, both facing re-election next year in GOP-leaning states, voted against beginning the gun control debate last week. Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas both said they are still deciding on the Manchin-Toomey plan.

Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.

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