Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) evoked the mercy rule Thursday and threw in the proverbial towel on behalf of bewildered gun control proponents by withdrawing their hotly rejected gun control bills from further consideration — that is, for now.
When, or if, Senators will again see gun-related legislation remains a topic of speculation in the wake of Reid's decision to untangle them from quagmire on gun control and move onto other pressing issues, such as immigration reform.
On Wednesday, the Senate rejected all seven proposed amendments to the first gun control bill debated on its floor since 1994, prompting President Barack Obama to vow to continue lobbying for gun control.
“I see this as just round one,” he said during a Wednesday press conference. “I believe we’re going to be able to get this one. Sooner or later we are going to get this right."
Unfortunately, Obama and fellow gun-control proponents would have had done better striking sooner rather than later, as Wednesday's 7-for-7 knock-out clearly illustrates.
"A series of Senate votes Wednesday marked the biggest moment in nearly two decades for those who want to limit guns in America, and for those who don't," wrote Connie Cass of the Associated Press. "Gun control failed."
"In the short run it means that no significant gun legislation is likely to pass. In the big picture this is a devastating loss for the White House," writes Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer for The Washington Post on April 17.
"In retrospect, the president was guilty of trying to have his cake and eat it too," Rubin continues. "He very much wanted to use the Newtown, Conn., families and tragedy to move public opinion, but background checks would have done nothing to prevent Newtown. But this is also a matter of red state senators knowing their home state constituents and finding no comfort in the president’s protective aura."
Ironically, Reid's decision on Thursday to table the flailing gun control bill came shortly after the Senate approved two amendments. Here is a capsule synopsis of all nine amendments:
-- Amendment to protect gun owners’ privacy passed 67-30 on Thursday. Sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), limits the ability of state governments to release gun owners' names. The amendment would withhold 5 percent of a state's community-oriented policing grant money if it publicly releases gun ownership information, except as part of law enforcement or court proceedings.
-- The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), passed 98-2 on Thursday. Will improve mental health services in schools and boost support for suicide prevention programs. Sens. Mike Lee, (R-Utah), and Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), voted no.
-- The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, failed in a 54-46 vote on Wednesday. Sens. Joe Manchin's (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey's (R-Pa.) compromise bill that requires buyers undergo background checks at gun shows and for online sales without imposing federal record-keeping regulations on private transactions, supplanting the more restrictive Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013 initially proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
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.
-- The Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013, failed in a 52-48 vote on Wednesday. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), 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.
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.
-- Gun trafficking amendment failed in a 58-42 vote Wednesday. It makes gun trafficking a federal crime and strengthens the penalties against “straw purchasers." This amendment boasted NRA support yet still failed.
-- Constitutional Concealed Carry Act failed in a 57-43 vote Wednesday. Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) bill 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.
-- Dianne Feinstein's semi-automatics weapons ban failed in a 40-60 vote on Wednesday: Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) was the only Republican to vote for it.
-- Expanding veterans’ gun rights amendment failed in a 56-44 vote on Wednesday. Sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), under the bill, a court would have to determine that a beneficiary is a danger to him/herself or others before gun rights can be revoked. No Republican voted against it.
-- High-cap magazine ban amendment failed in a 46-54 vote on Wednesday. Again, Illinois' Kirk is the only Republican to vote for it.
For more, go to:
-- What now for gun control? A look at the issue
-- Senate Republicans: We're not quitting on gun bill
-- ‘Round One’ Or A Knockout Blow To Obama’s Gun Control Agenda
-- Hollywood Mourns Senate Demise of Obama's Gun Control Legislation
-- Obama loses big on anti-gun legislation
-- How almost all the gun amendments failed
-- Four Reasons Why the Gun-Control Bills Failed