Passage in Doubt: Manchin Says He Needs 9 Republicans to Vote for His Gun Bill

By Susan Jones | April 17, 2013 | 8:55 AM EDT

Sen. Joe Manchin (D, W.Va.), left, and Sen. Patrick Toomey (R, Pa.), arrive at a news conference on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2013 to announce that they have reached a bipartisan deal on expanding background checks to more gun buyers. (AP File Photo)

( - The Senate needs 60 votes on Wednesday to advance legislation expanding background checks for gun sales, but it's not there yet. Even some Democrats, including Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, have not committed to support the bill.

"We have over 90 percent of Senate Democrats who will vote affirmative," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday. "If we just had 20 percent of our Republican colleagues -- that's not a heavy ask, that's not a heavy lift -- only 20 percent, that's nine members -- nine members -- this thing would be home. And we'll see."

So far, only four Senate Republicans — Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and John McCain of Arizona -- have indicated they will vote for the bill, press reports said.

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Manchin said he appreciates everything "Morning Joe" has done to support the bill he co-sponsored with Toomey.

"When you look at what we're doing here, all we're doing is taking current language: if you go to a gun store, by law for the last ten or more years, you're required to have a background check. If you go to a gun show, and there's a licensed dealer selling a gun, you have to do a background check at a gun show with that person, but you can go two tables over and buy all you want with nothing (no background check)."

Manchin said right now, anything goes with Internet sales, but his bill would require all Web-based gun sales to go through licensed dealers so background checks could be performed.

"This is not universal," Manchin said. "It does not infringe on anybody's rights. Or any individual's rights."

Manchin said his bill makes it a felony to collect records for the purpose of registration. "That's why you have the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms supporting it," he said.

Manchin criticized the NRA for spreading false information about his legislation: "They're telling members that our legislation would, and I quote, 'criminalize the private transfer of firearms by honest citizens.'" He said the bill "does not even touch" some private sales conducted away from gun shows.

Voting is expected to begin around 4 p.m., and a number of amendments will be considered. The Manchin-Toomey bill was considered to have the best chance of passage.

In an April 10 statement, the NRA wrote:

Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools. While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg's "universal" background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows. The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson. We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies, while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone. President Obama should be as committed to dealing with the gang problem that is tormenting honest people in his hometown as he is to blaming law-abiding gun owners for the acts of psychopathic murderers.