POLITICS

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledges to revive gun bill that was declared dead

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Politics Digest,Gun Control,Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday yanked from the Senate floor gun control legislation that suffered a serious setback a day earlier, pledging to revive the bill that many lawmakers have already declared dead.

"Make no mistake, this debate is not over," Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday after lawmakers voted down a string of amendments to the bill. "In fact, this fight is just beginning."

President Obama and gun control advocates suffered a serious setback Wednesday when the Senate defeated an amendment that would have allowed a limited expansion of background checks for gun buyers. That amendment was supposed to make the overall gun control legislation more palpable to Republicans and conservative Democrats, and when it was defeated, the bill was considered doomed.

Reid said he first consulted with Obama before moving to table the gun legislation, a procedural move that will make it easier for him to bring it back to the floor at a later date.

In the meantime, Reid said, proponents of the bill, including Obama, will try to rally greater public support for the measure to turn up the pressure on lawmakers to pass it. Victims of some of the nation's most recent mass shootings will help lobby for the measure.

"This will allow senators to keep negotiating," Reid said.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said the bill is not dead, though it might have to be altered.

"Either through the fury of constituents who were wronged yesterday or by revisions to the bill, we will try to bring this back up," Murphy said.

Gun control proponents lashed out at the National Rifle Association, blaming the powerful lobby for spreading misinformation about the legislation and pressuring lawmakers to vote against it.

"A lie is a lie," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said, describing the NRA tactics.

Manchin said he will focus on the five Democrats and 41 Republicans that voted against the measure.

"I'm just hoping they give me a chance," Manchin said. "Let's sit down and talk about it some more."

Top gun control proponents took to social media to start pressuring lawmakers who voted against it.

Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who suffered brain damage in a mass shooting, sent a message on Twitter to Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., criticizing his "no" vote on the measure.

"I'm confused, friend," Kelly tweeted. "You had that chance yesterday. Want to rethink and join me and Gabby in making Arizona safer?"

Flake and other opponents of the bill said they were representing the desires of their constituents, not the NRA, when they voted.

Flake said he believed the background checks measure was too broad and could have infringed on private gun sales.

"I truly want to do something on this, but what has been a little upsetting is to hear people try to maintain that we were just caving to pressure and discounting any issue we had with the legislation," Flake said.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said while individual mass shootings have made gun violence an emotional issue, other parts of the country feel just as strongly about the right to gun ownership.

"The depth of feeling in much of the heartland of the country about Second Amendment rights is visceral," Wicker said. "It's a gut issue, and I think that brings us these emotions."

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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