Liberals target Senate Dems for gun vote

Liberal groups already are launching efforts to deny re-election money to the four U.S. Senate Democrats who voted against the Manchin-Toomey gun background check amendment today.

The vote was 54-46 in favor – not enough “yea” votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to which Senate leaders have agreed for amendments. The Democrats who voted against the amendment were U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed his vote to “no” toward the end as a parliamentary tactic, reserving the right to bring up the bill again.

Baucus, Begich and Pryor all are up for re-election in 2014.

In an e-mail blast, Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs said the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rely on individual donors from all over the nation to get senators elected – something that’s particularly true for senators in “purple” states.

“Tell the DNC and DSCC you won’t donate a single penny to any Senator who opposes universal background checks for gun purchases,” Jacobs wrote. “The NRA can play hardball – but so can you. We’re the activists, the Democratic base. We’re the people who donate in elections, knock on doors, and get out the vote in tight elections. We’re the difference on Election Day all around the country.

“Sign the petition: ‘I won’t donate a dime or lift a finger to help any Democrat who opposes universal background checks get elected,’” Jacobs urged.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced it’ll run full-page newspaper ads against the four Senators.

“Today, the Senate voted against the 91% of Americans who support background checks to stop gun violence,” PCCC cofounder Stephanie Taylor said in a news release. “We’ll be holding accountable Democrats who voted against their constituents by running ads in their states, featuring some of the 23,000 gun owners who have joined our campaign for common sense gun reform”

And Democracy for America spokesman Neil Sroka said “Democrats who were too cowardly to get on the right side of a 90-10 issue like universal background checks better believe that the progressives will remember their spinelessness on gun violence prevention come reelection time. The over 1 million members of Democracy for America nationwide work to elect progressive fighters, not U.S. Senators who can be cowed by the right-wing fringe and gun industry lobbyists like the NRA.”

Some of the Democratic senators who opposed the amendment have explained their votes. Heitkamp issued a statement Wednesday:

“I’ve been adamant from the very beginning of this conversation that the focus should be on mental health issues, full and accurate reporting into the NICS database and ensuring that we are prosecuting criminals in possession of or trying to possess firearms. This conversation should be about what is in people’s minds, not about what is in their hands. I commend Senators Manchin and Toomey for working so hard to bring a serious bill to the floor. However, in its current form I do not see a path for my support. I’ve thought long and hard about this, I’ve taken the tough meetings, and I’ve heard overwhelmingly from the people of North Dakota; and at the end of the day my duty is to listen to and represent the people of North Dakota.”

Pryor posted to his Facebook page Wednesday:

“After talking with Arkansans, I’ve decided to oppose the Manchin-Toomey amendment. It’s too broad, unworkable, and unreasonable for hunters and gun owners in our state. Instead, I’ll support the Grassley amendment that better enforces the laws we already have on the books and protects the rights of law-abiding Arkansans.”

And Begich made his views known before last week’s cloture vote:

“I’ve long believed we don’t need more laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of Americans, we need to better enforce those on the books. So I’ll continue to fight against any new laws which infringe on our rights. At the same time, we can keep our communities safer by keeping guns out of the wrong hands and providing our schools more resources. That is why Senator Graham and I wrote a bipartisan bill which has been supported by both the NRA and mental health groups.”

“I voted today against the so-called cloture motion because I strongly disagree with many of the provisions of the anti-gun legislation currently on the Senate floor. By my vote, I’ll continue to work for the opportunity to consider more sensible measures to make our communities safer. I’ll continue to oppose any proposal that undermines the fundamental rights of Alaskans.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    Great idea, lefties! The Repubs welcome aid from all quarters in taking those seats.

  • Cindy Winter

    No excuses for not passing this Bill.

  • JohnW


    Speaking as a Democrat, I tend to agree that would be the height of stupidity. In the gun context, you might even say “it would be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

    On the other hand, getting primaried from the left might actually help those people, assuming they survive the primaries. It would firm up their “cred” as moderates in the general election.

  • Josh Richman

    @4 – Baucus might be the only one among the three who’s worried about a primary challenge next year, Begich and Pryor not so much.

  • If ever “coward” belonged to politicians, those who voted against a simple, reasonable, background check for those purchasing guns deserve the name. And yes, “feelings”. That is what is missing from this country today. They have no “feelings”. Their jobs are more important. Voting with the psychopath LaPierre is pathetic. Will their child be next? If so, will they change their minds?

  • RR senile columnist

    There already is a simple, reasonable background check provision on the books, if fact, more many more than that across the states.

  • JohnW

    Good piece in the Washington Post by the Dan Balz. He’s the paper’s Chief Political Correspondent — their Josh Richman!


  • JohnW


    The “simple, reasonable background check provision” to which you refer only requires checks when you buy a gun from a licensed dealer. No check required for buying online or from a non-dealer seller at gun shows. The Toomey/Manchin proposal would have closed that loophole. What a silly idea!

    I can see the TV ads now: Neighbor annoying you? Want a gun? Oppressive government won’t allow you to have one just because you served time for armed robbery or are on meds to treat your psychosis? Not a problem. Come to “wesellgunstoanybody.com.”

  • RR senile columnist

    I see, every time some law regulates gun sales, some clever guys make a loophole. You make a good point. Adam Lanza didn’t get his arms and ammo online or at a gun show. Congress got stirred up by Newtown. The loophole didn’t make Newtown possible. Lanza’s mom did.

  • MichaelB


    No TV ads needed for this one.

    Background checks would have to be performed by those holding FFLs. Gun control supporters have deliberately made it more difficult to obtain one/keep one so as to reduce those eligible to perform them. Whoops! Did anyone else notice this sleight of hand from our friends only wanting “sensible” gun laws?

    Demand more background checks but call FFL holders “kitchen table gun dealers” (remember that one from Bill Clinton?), set up more barriers to get an FFL, raise their fees and have local “progressive” politicians not let them operate at all in their communities for “violence prevention” reasons. What a joke!

  • JohnW


    Your argument is like saying we shouldn’t have traffic lights, because they won’t stop highway collisions. Expanded background checks and dealing with straw buyer gun trafficking may not be especially effective for preventing Newtown situations. So, what? They are designed especially to address the daily gun violence in the cities. Newtown was the catalyst to try to get Congress motivated on a range of gun legislation — some of which could prove effective in preventing future mass killings, or at least limiting the body count; and some of which would be more effective in reducing daily street gun violence.

    You say that Adam Lanza didn’t get his arms and ammo online or at a gun show. But, if memory serves, the guns used by the Columbine shooters were purchased for them by a friend (straw buyer) at a gun show. And the Aurora shooter bought several thousand rounds online.

  • JohnW


    Last I read, there were more FFL holders than gas stations. So it couldn’t be that tough to get and hold a license. Wasn’t the reference to “kitchen table dealers” about the fact than only 20% of FFL holders are store-based dealers and that many of the so-called “kitchen table dealers” were selling guns off the books to gang members, drug dealers etc?

  • Josh Richman

    Looks as if there were almost 2,700 FFLs in California as of February, though that would include some private curio/relic collectors.

  • MichaelB


    They ran the ones out/revoked the licenses in my city (without storefronts) for no reason other than the feel good “violence prevention” argument after the mayor met with other East Bay mayors at a gun control summit. I was at the city council public hearing. No evidence of license misuse/misconduct was presented.

    Remember Siegle’s gun shop in Oakland? The city council ran them out of business in 2000 by assessing a “gun violence prevention” tax on them because of the products they sold.

    Bay Area politicians do not want gun shops/shows operating in their communities. And they are the ones who would have to process private party transfers of guns. Hardly an “inconvenience” to someone living in this area.

  • RR senile columnist

    Re 11: Traffic signals were constructed primarily to regulate traffic flow. Accident avoidance was not the main purpose then, nor is it today—that’s where speed limits, DUI laws, etc., come into play. There is no parallel between auto and firearms regulation.

  • JohnW


    Can’t say that I remember Siegle’s gun shop. I’m a California newbie. Probably before my time. Only recent FFL controversy I recall is some guy in Pleasant Hill wanting to sell guns from his house.


    Boston Suspect #2 in custody.