Following the assassination of 26 people – including 20 children – on December 14, 2012, then-President Barack Obama pledged to offer meaningful reforms on guns in America.
It became clear relatively quickly that Obama’s major legislative proposals were very unlikely to get the 60 votes it needed to break the Senate filibuster. A bipartisan compromise bill emerged, led by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
* 54 yeas, including 50 Democrats and four Republicans. The Republicans who voted for the compromise were Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, Arizona Sen. John McCain and Toomey.
* 46 nays, including 41 Republicans and five Democrats. The Democrats who voted against the compromise were Montana Sen. Max Baucus, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. (Reid, the majority leader of the Senate at the time, voted against the measure to preserve his ability to bring it up again at a later date.)
Looking back, what can we learn about the chances for some sort of gun control measure passing the Senate following Uvalde?
Well, first and foremost, it depends on what is in the legislation – which we don’t know yet as the bipartisan talks have just started.
But it’s clear that the Senate hasn’t grown significantly more pro-gun control in the ensuing decade since Manchin-Toomey failed.
Of the five Democrats who voted against the measure, four have since been replaced by Republicans. (Reid’s seat is now held by Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who faces a difficult reelection bid this fall.) Of that Senate Republicans quartet – Steve Daines of Montana, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Tom Cotton of Arkansas – all have either an A + or A rating from the National Rifle Association.
Of the four Republicans who voted for Manchin-Toomey in 2013, two – Toomey and Collins – remain in the Senate. The other two seats are now in Democratic control. McCain’s seat is held by Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, a longtime advocate for gun control, while Kirk’s seat is held by Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
If anything, then, it might be marginally more difficult to get through a proposal like Manchin-Toomey in this current iteration of the Senate. And with Manchin opposed to changing the rules around the filibuster legislation, it seems unlikely anything that goes as far as Manchin-Toomey (or farther) will make it through this Senate.