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Senate Democrats who backed 'concealed carry' in 2013 no longer on board

Emma Dumain, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans used to be able to rely on red-state Democrats to help bolster bills loosening gun restrictions. Not anymore.

Of the 13 Senate Democrats who voted in 2013 to allow concealed carry gun permits to be recognized across state lines, seven remain in office. At least four confirmed to McClatchy on Tuesday they would not vote for that same bill again.

That means that even if the so-called "Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act" passes in the House on Wednesday, as widely expected, it is all but dead on arrival in the Senate.

In that chamber, 60 votes are needed for a bill to advance. Since Republicans control 52 seats, the GOP would need eight Democrats to join them. Currently, it's not clear they have any.

That the seven members who supported the measure four years ago are no longer on board shows how the gun debate has changed.

The 2013 vote on concealed-carry legislation took place in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where young children and their teachers were killed.

 

While the optics might not have been ideal for a vote on legislation making it easier to carry guns from state to state, 13 Democrats still felt emboldened to vote "yes." Even at that time, it wasn't enough to get the bill over the finish line, with all other Democrats opposing along with one Republican, then-Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Since then, there has been a rash of other mass shootings around the country. Targets have included a movie theater in Colorado and an historic black church in Charleston, a gay nightclub in Orlando and an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas. The most recent mass shooting occurred last month at a Sunday church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The troubling trend prompted Rep. Mark Warner, D-Va., one of the 13 Democratic "yes" votes in 2013, to release a statement in March announcing he would not vote for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act should it reach the Senate floor.

"In the four years since the Senate's last significant gun safety debate, the country has suffered over 100 mass shootings and tens of thousands of Americans are killed through gun violence each year," Warner said. "Knowing what I know today, if and when (the bill) comes before the Senate for a vote, I will oppose it in the interest of the safety of all Virginians."

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