Vice President Joseph R. Biden told the nation’s mayors at a conference in Las Vegas that “at least five” senators have called him saying they want to find a way to change their votes on legislation to expand gun-purchase background checks that stalled in the Senate in April.
“I’ve had at least five senators call me and say, ‘Can’t we do something about this?’” Mr. Biden said. “[W]e’ve got to get a rationale, another reason why this could be done by changing the specifics of the legislation.”
Fifty-five senators supported the legislation and 45 opposed it, and so it failed to clear the 60-vote threshold necessary to head off a potential filibuster.
“I know for a fact some of them wonder about, now, whether that was a prudent vote,” Mr. Biden said in separate remarks on the gun bill fight earlier in the week. He described the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in December as “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in the gun debate.
Shortly after Mr. Biden’s remarks on Tuesday, Connecticut’s two Democratic Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, said they are in talks with about a half-dozen senators on slightly amended legislation.
The measure sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat and Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican would expand gun-purchase background checks to sales online and at gun shows failed to clear the Senate two months ago.
There could be slight changes on a rural exemption for the checks — an idea that had been bandied about during negotiations earlier in the year.
Other changes could include a clarification that no national record-keeping will result from the bill and the addition of other mental health measures, “but there will be absolutely no hollowing out of this bill,” Mr. Blumenthal said.
“We are not going to weaken what a majority of senators have already said they want and 90 percent of the American people say we need, and there can be changes to accommodate senators who feel that they need some changes in the bill without weakening it.”
Mr. Murphy said the definition of “rural” was still being worked out, but would likely be a very small number of extremely rural areas, mostly in the western part of the country.