New York Senator Charles Schumer's "Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013" won't make it to the Senate floor before April 15 and when it does, it will probably be substantially different than the hotly contested version narrowly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in March.
Schumer's bill is one of three gun control proposals that the Senate was expected to debate after returning from spring break on April 8. Two bills -- proposals to improve school safety and strengthen penalties for “straw purchases” of guns -- are broadly supported and expected to be introduced by April 12.
But according to an April 7 article in the Washington Post by Ed O'Keefe and Sean Sullivan, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) will delay the start of debate on Schumer's hotly contested bill until a bipartisan compromise is reached. That, O'Keefe and Sullivan write, isn't likely until at least April 15.
With his bill facing certain stalemate and a GOP filibuster that could bury it before it even reaches the floor, Schumer has been working with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill), and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) on a compromise that would be more palatable to Republicans and many Democrats.
Ailsa Chang of NPR reported on April 7 that Manchin and Toomey will propose a measure that calls for expanding background checks and records requirements for commercial sales, but not for private ones. It is one of several potential legislative initiatives being pondered:
* Schumer's Senate Bill 374, described as "the gold standard" of background check proposals by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, faces "almost certain defeat" unless a compromise can be reached, according to the Associated Press.
The primary point of contention is Schumer's insistence that the federal government retain records for all private gun sales, admitting it’s the only way a truly uniform background check system could be effective. However, such record-keeping is prohibited by the 1986 Firearms Protection Act, which requires the FBI to destroy any record of a successful background check within 24 hours.
* The Manchin/Toomey amendment to Senate Bill 374 calls for expanding background checks for all gun purchases except sales between close family members and some hunters.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, has spent months negotiating with Schumer, Kirk, and Coburn. After progress stalled, momentum for compromise was revived during the two-week spring recess when Manchin began working with Toomey, one of several GOP senators receptive to expanding background checks for commercial firearms transactions.
According to the New York Times, Manchin and Toomey have been discussing a measure that would expand background checks to gun show purchases and online sales, and maintain record-keeping provisions for all commercial sales.
* Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is working on an alternate bill that calls for universal checks but includes wide exemptions for record-keeping.
On April 5, the Wall Street Journal reported Coburn had written a 43-page draft of a bill that wouldn’t require private gun sellers to keep a paper record of the sale.
Without substantial revision, few give Coburn's purported bill much chance of passing. But without Coburn's support, other proposals won't get far, either.
"Coburn has become a veritable funnel for legislative activity," writes Sam Stein in the Huffington Post. "Reform advocates feel they need Coburn's blessing in order to get a significant number of Republican votes, mainly because Republicans are deferring all entreaties to him."
* Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced on March 28 that he will present "alternative legislation" to Schumer's bill when the Senate returned from spring recess.
Grassley, who voted against Schumer's bill in committee, is expected to propose a bill that excludes the new record-keeping requirements imposed in the "Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013." As of April 8, Grassley had not presented an alternate bill.
For more, go to:
-- Back From Recess, Congress Preps For Gun Legislation Fight
-- Blocked Or Breaking Through? Mixed Signals On Gun Bills
-- Gun Bill’s Chances Get GOP Boost
-- President Obama’s make-or-break week on guns
-- Sen. Coburn Drafts His Own Gun Bill
-- On Gun Control, Tom Coburn Holds The Keys To Obama's Agenda
-- Toomey possible GOP partner for Democrats in background check bill
-- Conservative Republicans threaten filibuster as background-check bill expands
-- Groups worry Schumer, Manchin watering down gun control bill