As was expected, the Toomey-Manchin gun control amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases failed to get the required 60 votes in the Senate this afternoon. The measure failed 56-44, with four Republicans voting for it -- John McCain, R-Ariz.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Five Democrats, mostly representing rural pro-gun constituencies, voted against it including Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Mark Pryor, D-Ark; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also voted against the bill but only as a procedural matter that allows him to resurrect the amendment later. Though Reid sought to bolster his gun credentials in his last election, Reid surprised observers earlier today by announcing he would support an "assault weapons" ban in addition to increasing background checks.
In the wake of the failed amendment, Republican senators Ted Cruz and Charles Grassley have gone on the offensive proposing their own gun legislation. The GOP legislation would, among other things, create a task force that will go after felons who fail existing background checks, allocates new resources to address mental health issues, and proposes $30 million “secure our school” grants. The GOP proposal also seeks to loosen some existing gun restrictions, such as allowing interstate gun sales and making interstate gun transportation easier. You can read a full summary of the Grassley/Cruz Gun substitute here.