Delegation not expecting movement in background check legislation

gun show

Both Alaska senators voted against an amendment would have required background checks for guns sold at gun shows.(Photo by Michael Glasgow)

The mass shooting at a Navy installation in Washington, D.C. Monday is reigniting the debate over guns and background checks.

The Alaska Congressional delegation is not predicting any movement.

Both Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich voted against an amendment that would have required background checks for guns sold at gun shows.

That amendment – called Manchin-Toomey after the amendment’s authors – failed in the spring. Joe Manchin is a West Virginia Democrat who once took heat for a campaign ad that showed him shooting a bullet through a climate change bill.

And Pat Toomey is a Republican from Pennsylvania with an A rating from the NRA.

So went the bipartisan effort went down – gun control advocates lost momentum.

Manchin says he wants the amendment on the Senate floor again. He wants another vote – saying it failed last time because opponents dubbed it gun control – something he disagrees with.

“It’s basically background checks, which we call “gun-sense.” And it says simply commercial transactions should have background checks without any loopholes so we know is the person is qualified, or should have a gun if they don’t have criminal past or they’ve been adjudicated mentally. These are things we should know.”

It’s unclear whether Monday’s suspected killer, Navy contractor Aaron Alexis, had ever been involuntarily committed. He reportedly suffered from mental illness for years.

The FBI says Alexis was able to purchase a shotgun in Virginia.

Neither Murkowski nor Begich say guns are the problem. They say mental health is the only issue.

Begich has a limited bill that he says would force states to better report criminals to a federal database of people prohibited from owning guns.

“Well this gentleman had nothing – he wasn’t convicted of anything.”

Begich says nothing has changed his opposition to expanding background checks to gun shows and internet sales.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will not bring any mental health bill to the floor without the background check provision. He says he’s continued to lobby senators for their support since the amendment failed.

“I talk to people consistently. And the thing that bothers me is that a number of Republicans say “I know that you’re right, but we can’t do anything about it.”

Murkowski says she has not talked to anyone about guns since the issue failed. And any new talk won’t change any laws.

“I think the voting is done. I don’t think the debate is done.”

But a debate in Congress without a vote – doesn’t amount to much of anything.

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