The thinking among Democratic leaders was that they now could apply pressure two ways. First, point out, as Reid put it, “Republicans are in an unsustainable position: crosswise with 9 out of 10 Americans.” Polls find overwhelming support for most background checks.
Second, fight harder against gun interests. Obama is leading that charge, and senators vowed Thursday to apply new public pressure in the form of ads, lobbying and other means to convince colleagues that some kinds of limits on gun use and sales are imperative.
“Our job is to spread awareness, spread the rage that we feel,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
Manchin agreed, saying that the more the gun lobby’s credibility comes under fire, the better it will be for gun control advocates. Asked why more pressure wasn’t applied this week, particularly by the White House, Manchin said he wasn’t in touch with the White House. And, he said, the process moves slowly.
“The more the American public knows, the better it will be for us,” he said.
Gun rights supporters bristled at the notion that they were beholden to the gun lobby. “I and many of my colleagues are not worried . . . about the gun lobby,” said Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas. “I don’t work for them. I work for Texans.”
The Senate did pass two uncontroversial amendments to the gun bill. One, pushed by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., would withhold 5 percent of a state or local government’s money for the Community Oriented Policing Services program if the state released information about people who have licenses to purchase, possess or carry firearms.
The other amendment would reauthorize certain mental health programs, including those involving aid to college students and suicide prevention.
Sean Cockerham contributed to this article.