Reid has promised an open amendment process for gun control legislation, which the Senate is expected to start debating next week.
“Though it purports to clarify and increase mental health record submissions to the gun background check system, [the proposal] instead would allow many more individuals who have been involuntarily committed or otherwise found to be seriously mentally ill to buy and possess guns,” Mark Glaze, the group’s director, said in a statement. “In fact, it weakens current law governing these cases.”
Graham intends to offer the proposal as an amendment, and the fact that conservatives and moderates in both parties have signed on suggests that it stands a strong chance of succeeding. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is one of the chamber’s strongest supporters of tougher gun laws, initially backed the plan but withdrew his endorsement this week.
#3: Armed Prosecutors
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, may offer another amendment that would expand gun rights, and his timing could make it difficult for Democrats to vote against it.
Following the recent killing of two state-level prosecutors in Texas — as well as the state prisons chief in Colorado and a sheriff in West Virginia — Cornyn has introduced legislation that would allow all judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials at the state and federal levels to carry firearms into all federal facilities, according to a summary from his office.
The proposal also would allow prosecutors and law enforcement officers to “possess and obtain an ammunition magazine of any size.”
#4: High-Capacity Magazines
Blumenthal will offer an amendment that would ban the future production of ammunition magazines holding 10 rounds or more. The same provision is contained in the broader assault weapons ban sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Reid has guaranteed that both proposals will receive votes as amendments.
By stripping out the ammunition component, however, Democrats are telegraphing that they think it has a stronger chance of succeeding on its own. Reid voted against the original assault weapons ban in 1994, but this week he praised Blumenthal’s amendment as a “very forward-leaning proposal.”
Both proposals are highly unlikely to be adopted. But it will be worth watching how conservative Democrats who have criticized the assault weapons ban as too far-reaching will vote on the ammunition provision, which President Barack Obama has emphasized at nearly every turn.
#5: Background Checks
Without question, the linchpin of the gun legislation is the bipartisan proposal that Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., unveiled this week to require background checks on all gun sales in commercial settings, including at gun shows and on the Internet.
Democrats are pinning their hopes on the compromise, which Reid has guaranteed will be the first amendment. Thursday’s lopsided 68-31 vote in favor of cloture suggests that some Republicans are, at the very least, interested in the plan.
But the amendment will be up against opposition from the NRA and will face competition from other GOP proposals on background checks, including one from Coburn and potentially another from Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.