Opponents said the remaining proposals were unwarranted intrusions on the Second Amendment , would be ignored by criminals and would do little to prevent future Newtowns. Obama’s plans have received scant support from Republicans and moderate Democrats, with many saying they prefer improvements in dealing with the mentally ill and stronger enforcement of existing laws.
Congress hasn’t approved major gun restrictions since enacting an assault weapons ban 19 years ago, a prohibition that lawmakers let lapse after a decade.
Some potential amendments could broaden gun rights and weaken backing for the overall bill.
One proposal is by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who say it would improve how the federal background check system blocks weapons from going to people with certain mental problems, though critics say it would make it harder in some cases to do so. Another possible amendment would require states to recognize permits for carrying concealed weapons issued by other states.
In Thursday’s vote, 50 Democrats and 2 Democratic-leaning independents were joined by 16 Republicans in voting to begin debate on the legislation. Twenty-nine Republicans and two Democrats facing re-election next year in GOP-leaning states voted “no” — Alaska’s Begich and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Besides the exemption for private sales, gun control advocates expressed displeasure with language letting gun dealers sell handguns to out-of-state customers, exempting some holders of permits for concealed weapons from background checks and shielding individuals who sell guns from some negligence lawsuits.