On Capitol Hill, Giffords, Kelly express optimism over gun bill
April 16th, 2013
02:12 PM ET
2 years ago

On Capitol Hill, Giffords, Kelly express optimism over gun bill

Washington (CNN) - As proponents of gun control legislation in the Senate struggle to get enough votes for their bill, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, say they feel "optimistic" that the bipartisan compromise will get enough approval.

And Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia indicated the bill could potentially be tweaked to convince opponents to join their side, while Vice President Joe Biden said advocates are "working" to get the 60 votes needed to pass.

"We are optimistic that this can pass," Kelly told CNN, after walking through the Capitol Tuesday with Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.

Toomey and Manchin are the two architects of an agreement that would expand the background check system to include firearm sales at gun shows and over the internet.

The Senate is expected to take up a package of gun proposals this week, starting with the Manchin-Toomey amendment. The overall gun bill also contains measures to crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchases, as well as finding ways to improve school safety.

The compromise deal, reached last week and originally thought to make it through the Senate, is now trying to stay above water, as several Republican senators have indicated they plan to oppose the measure.

As the group–Manchin, Toomey, Kelly and Giffords–was walking into an elevator Tuesday, one reporter asked if the senators are considering a possible change to the legislation, which would allow exemptions for rural gun owners who have to travel far to purchase a gun. Such a measure could help sway senators from states like Alaska.

Responding, Manchin suggested a change could be made.

"We're looking at everything that really makes sense," he said. "We're looking at everything that could be of more help."

Asked if he's optimistic about a bill getting through the Senate, he replied with a smile: "Always optimistic."

Biden was also on the Hill Tuesday for a ceremony dedicating a room to Gabe Zimmerman, a congressional aide who lost his life in the same Tucson shooting that wounded Giffords.

"I think we're going to be OK," Biden told reporters when asked about the gun bill in the Senate.

But, the former senator from Delaware added, he's "learned after 36 years not to predict what the Senate's going to do on anything."

Asked if he's talking to certain senators who are on the fence about the bill, Biden said: "I'm just reaching out to my friends."

"We are working to get to 60 and it's fluid. I think we're there, but it's not unusual as you all know for people to make up their minds at the last minute," he said. "But we'll see."

Despite the obstacles ahead, Kelly also said they're hopeful the bill can get enough support. Kelly and Giffords, who was shot in the head more than two years ago, have been vocal advocates in the renewed campaign to combat gun violence.

"I think there's a good chance," Kelly said. "It's going to take a little work. That's why Gabby and I are here. And ya know I think we'll get this done."

Read more: 'Stronger, better, tougher:' Giffords improves, but she'll never be the same

Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Richard Burr of North Carolina told CNN Monday of their plans to vote against the measure, while Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced his decision on his Facebook page the same night.

On the other hand, four Republicans have voiced support or said they were leaning in favor of supporting the amendment. With at least two moderate Democrats from pro-gun states known to oppose the measure, it needs at least seven GOP votes to have any chance of passing.

Manchin told CNN on Monday a vote on his amendment would be pushed back to try and build more support in order to get the 60 votes that are effectively needed for passage.

Asked if the vote would take place Tuesday or Wednesday, as supporters had hoped, Manchin said he didn't think so.

"I would say by the end of the week, probably," he added.

– CNN's Tom Cohen and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    I'm optimistic that this watered down bill will be passed. Hooray!(add sarcasm here)

    April 16, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. UsGotRights

    Anyone trying to take away Americans rights to bear arms during a time of war or anytime is un-patriotic and un-american in should be charged with treason.

    April 16, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Guest

    When will the people that have defended themselves from violent criminal attacks with their firearm get a whitehouse VIP invite and LSM coverage? The farther the liberals try to move us away from what this nation was founded upon the deeper in the hole we go! Morally, ethically, financially, socially, etc

    April 16, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. rs

    Anyone trying to take away Americans rights to bear arms during a time of war or anytime is un-patriotic and un-american in should be charged with treason.
    ________________________
    Care to enlighten us how a basic background check "takes away" anyone's rights? Unless you are a crriminal or a terrorist, no one's rights are abridged. Meanwhile the GOP wants to ID, register, and background check voters-not gun owners. Go figure.

    April 16, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. nothing new here

    Legal, law-abiding citizens should be allowed civil liberties, but bear in mind, that those liberties do carry some responsibility. Potential gun owners should undergo background checks, and be required to take gun safety lessons, as well as any other requirements that the states see fit. But no more of this buying and selling guns without restrictions, no, it is just a straw man argument. Considering all the rules and regulations that apply to everything else in this country, gun owners should play by the rules like everyone else.

    April 16, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Canuck

    America – where you have the right to own a gun but have no right to affordable health-care.
    What a caring society you've created down there (sarcasm).

    April 16, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Guest

    And those who choose to utilize their right to free speech should first have a psyhciatric evaluation and be required to attend cultural awareness and sensitivity training should the potential exist for them to offend others exercising their rights....at their own expense of course, with an additional tax levied upon them...

    The real question RS, is why dumbocrats want all of these restrictions on gun owners but NOT voter ID, background checks on illegals, etc.....how can oblabla talk about health care, jobs, etc while ignoring the burdensome regs, lack of enforcement of laws, blue states legalizing marijuana ? Hypocrite!

    April 16, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Jinx9to88

    I just Love how the NRA threatens any politician they would lower their NRA grade. Good grief you coward Senators you guys make me sick!!!! If the people in your district wants background checks then they should get your vote for background checks. I hope Bloomberg goes after the Senators that dont vote for the bill even with the support of the general public.

    April 16, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. beingpushedtotheright

    why don't we need background checks to buy meat cleavers, frying pans, baseball bats, axes, cars, chain saws, butchers knives, sling shots, rocks, fireplace pokers, and hammers?

    April 16, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Canuck

    America – where you have the right to own a gun but have no right to affordable health-care.
    -----–
    America – where even those in poverty are obese.

    FIFY.

    April 16, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Jinx9to88

    Repugs want background check on voting right but none for guns sales. Gotta love the logic since they are both a RIGHT!!!

    April 16, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. PJ

    @Guest: "...those who choose to utilize their right to free speech should first have a psyhciatric evaluation.........."
    --
    Yes, you should, but you most likely would fail the "sensitivity" part since you have reached the "potential to
    offend others...." (you might work on spelling though)

    April 16, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The question is how quickly will this die when it reaches the House? Has anyone in the House commented on how quickly it will be taken up? Will that happen before the 2014 mid-terms or in the lame duck session?

    April 16, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. American Moderate

    America – where you have the right to own a gun but have no right to affordable health-care.
    What a caring society you've created down there (sarcasm).

    Last I heard, you could still own guns in Canada too... And I've heard stories that would explain why your health care system is "affordable".

    April 16, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. Guest

    Nice to see the blog grammar police on board...I fat fingered it, guess which one I'm showing you now! See how quickly you jump to conclusions...I was giving you a thumbs up for catching that error crazy liberal!

    April 16, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. rs

    Guest

    And those who choose to utilize their right to free speech should first have a psyhciatric evaluation and be required to attend cultural awareness and sensitivity training should the potential exist for them to offend others exercising their rights....at their own expense of course, with an additional tax levied upon them...

    The real question RS, is why dumbocrats want all of these restrictions on gun owners but NOT voter ID, background checks on illegals, etc.....how can oblabla talk about health care, jobs, etc while ignoring the burdensome regs, lack of enforcement of laws, blue states legalizing marijuana ? Hypocrite!
    ___________________________
    Oh, I dunno, maybe the 12,000 Americans who die EVERY year because of gun violence has something to dio with it? Rweally, has anyone's death EVER been caused by someone voting? Meanwhile, why is the GOP so proud of 8-hour long voting lines? Why do they feel it is so necessary to know old voters, , and voters from largely Black, poor, or Latino neighborhoods off the rolls?

    As to your foolishness about a First Amendment tax- funny enough the GOP is working on something similar in NC- a poll tax for parents of voting college students.

    The GOP is a creepy organization in bed with unsavory groups like the NRA (among others)- they just don't get that by promoting a "guns for all" philosophy, they are making gun manufacturers profitable while making our country the arms dealer for every kook with a "Patriot's Day" fantasy, armed locked and loaded and ready to take out 9, 12, 17, or 26 people, never mind the casual killings. As bad as Boston was yesterday more people died by guns in Phoenix Arizona in the last 24 hours!
    If that's your freedom- keep it. I am not sure too many of us attached to reality find it very compelling.

    April 16, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. WouldYouLookAtThat

    Mark Kelley is as relevant as Grover Norquist... He needs not be in the political playground pursuing changes to the laws of the land.

    April 16, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. Oakspar77777

    A compromise on gun control is like buying my property back from a theif at a great price – I need not give up part of my Freedom to get back some of the Freedom that they already stole from me.

    April 16, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. WouldYouLookAtThat

    Jinx9to88 –
    Repugs want background check on voting right but none for guns sales. Gotta love the logic since they are both a RIGHT!!!

    Who said anything about a background check to vote? Are you making stuff up, again? Go troll elsewhere

    April 16, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. rs

    beingpushedtotheright

    why don't we need background checks to buy meat cleavers, frying pans, baseball bats, axes, cars, chain saws, butchers knives, sling shots, rocks, fireplace pokers, and hammers?
    _____________________
    Unless you know some very creative things you can do with firearms the rest of us are unaware of, the answer is pretty clear. Guns have 1 purpose: to kill.

    For comparison though- the knife atter in China who broke into a classromm- stabbed 22 children, no fatalities. The guy in Texas last week- 14 people stabbed, no fatalities. Compare to Newtown. Get the picture now?

    April 16, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  21. just sayin

    Canuck
    America – where you have the right to own a gun but have no right to affordable health-care.
    What a caring society you've created down there (sarcasm).
    --
    Canada - where you have a right to all the free healthcare that your government can tax you to provide, then come to the USA for real healthcare.

    April 16, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Bernard obryant

    The gun law will stay being held up by the senate because those people in washington cant seen to get it together so keep your gun but congress is a to way street.

    April 16, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. PJ

    Thanks for the explanation Guest. You still need work on your "sensitivity". Name calling just clouds your
    issues. But, some enjoy walking around in a fog.

    April 16, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |