Manchin and Toomey mull changes to background check deal

In order to win over rural lawmakers, the senators are considering exempting some more remote areas

Published April 16, 2013 12:55PM (EDT)

As Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey struggle to get enough votes to pass their background check measure, the two senators are reportedly considering making some changes to the proposal to win over hesitant rural lawmakers.

From the Washington Post:

In an effort to win the support of some undecided rural-state senators, Manchin and Toomey were discussing the possibility Monday of adding language that would exempt select far-flung communities in Alaska and North Dakota from some background check requirements, according to Senate aides familiar with the talks. Such exceptions could help win the support of Alaska’s senators Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) and North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, a moderate with an A-rating from the NRA.

The New York Times reports that the measure is seeing reluctance from both Democrats and Republicans, despite the fact that it is primarily being pushed by Manchin, a Democrat, and Toomey, a Republican, both of whom are A-rated by the NRA.

Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, has been cool to new gun measures, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from the state, voted against even proceeding to debate gun measures. Supporters of the background check amendment believe the exemptions for people who live far from gun dealers might appeal to them.

Among the 16 Republicans who joined 50 Democrats and two independents in voting last week to proceed to consideration of gun legislation, more than a half dozen have already decided not to support the measure, and other Republicans who voted to proceed on the bill remain ambivalent. The hope is that some changes to the bill may bring others along.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Background Checks Heidi Heitkamp Joe Manchin Mark Begich Pat Toomey U.s. Senate