Senate Votes on Gun Control Proposals

June 20th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

On Monday, the Senate voted on four gun control proposals. The vote came a little over a week after a mass shooting left 49 dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. All four amendments failed. None of them even reached the 60 votes needed to for cloture — which ends debate and moves the amendments forward for an actual vote on the substance of the legislation.

The vote came after a nearly 15-hour filibuster by Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), last Wednesday. Republicans agreed to hold votes following the marathon session.

Similar proposals failed in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015 and following the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In fact, the Manchin-Toomey amendment of 2013, which focused on expanding background checks, received 10 more votes at the time.


There were two proposals brought by Democrats that failed.

Terror watch list: Failed

  • The amendment offered by California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein would have enabled the Department of Justice to bar the purchase of guns to buyers who had been on the FBI's terrorist watch list within the last five years. The person could be blocked if the FBI has a "reasonable belief" that the weapons would by used for terrorism. The DOJ voiced its support for the measure, Politico reported.
  • The amendment needed 60 votes to move forward.
  • The final votes: Yes: 47 No: 53


Background checks: Failed

  • An amendment, brought by Murphy, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), sought to close the so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to purchase weapons without going through background checks. The amendment also addressed gun sales over the internet, and sought to expand the background check database.
  • This amendment put forth by the above senators needed 60 votes to move forward.
  • The final vote: Yes: 44 No: 56

Two more proposals offered by Republicans also failed.

Terror watch list: Failed

  • An amendment offered up by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn is similar to Feinstein's proposal. Law enforcement would be alerted if a suspected terrorist tries to buy a weapon, but the buyer could be blocked for three days while authorities investigate the sale. The government would need to show "probable cause," which is a higher standard than "reasonable belief," according to USA Today.
  • Again, this amendment needed 60 votes to move forward.
  • The final vote count: Yes: 53 No: 47


Background check: Failed

  • The proposal brought by Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa) addressed mentally ill people seeking to purchase guns. It would clarify the threshold for mental deficiency, as well as give people who are suspected of serious mental illness an outlet to challenge that decision.
  • 60 votes were needed to move forward.
  • The final vote count: Yes: 53 No: 43

This was a pivotal vote in an election year, where votes could be used to paint lawmakers as weak on gun control (or, conversely, strong on gun rights).

Ahead of Monday's votes, a group of senators were working on an alternative proposal in hopes that it might actually pass, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told NPR over the weekend. That measure would narrow the gun-buying ban for suspected terrorists to people on the "no-fly" list, a smaller subset of the terror watch list, CNN reported.

Support among Americans for reforms included in the measures have spiked in the days after the Orlando shooting. According to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday, a strong majority, around 90 percent, support expanding background checks, banning felons and mentally ill people from buying guns, and restricting sales for people on terror watch lists.

Support for tougher laws has not been this high, CNN noted, since one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

Here's a full list of who voted for and against Sen. Murphy's amendment to expand background checks and close the gun show loophole, via the Senate's website:

YEAs: 44

  • Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Bennet (D-CO)
  • Blumenthal (D-CT)
  • Booker (D-NJ)
  • Boxer (D-CA)
  • Brown (D-OH)
  • Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Cardin (D-MD)
  • Carper (D-DE)
  • Casey (D-PA)
  • Coons (D-DE)
  • Donnelly (D-IN)
  • Durbin (D-IL)
  • Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Franken (D-MN)
  • Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Heinrich (D-NM)
  • Hirono (D-HI)
  • Kaine (D-VA)
  • King (I-ME)
  • Kirk (R-IL)
  • Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Leahy (D-VT)
  • Markey (D-MA)
  • McCaskill (D-MO)
  • Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Merkley (D-OR)
  • Mikulski (D-MD)
  • Murphy (D-CT)
  • Murray (D-WA)
  • Nelson (D-FL)
  • Peters (D-MI)
  • Reed (D-RI)
  • Reid (D-NV)
  • Sanders (I-VT)
  • Schatz (D-HI)
  • Schumer (D-NY)
  • Shaheen (D-NH)
  • Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Udall (D-NM)
  • Warner (D-VA)
  • Warren (D-MA)
  • Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs: 56

  • Alexander (R-TN)
  • Ayotte (R-NH)
  • Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Blunt (R-MO)
  • Boozman (R-AR)
  • Burr (R-NC)
  • Capito (R-WV)
  • Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Coats (R-IN)
  • Cochran (R-MS)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Corker (R-TN)
  • Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Cotton (R-AR)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Cruz (R-TX)
  • Daines (R-MT)
  • Enzi (R-WY)
  • Ernst (R-IA)
  • Fischer (R-NE)
  • Flake (R-AZ)
  • Gardner (R-CO)
  • Graham (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Hatch (R-UT)
  • Heitkamp (D-ND)
  • Heller (R-NV)
  • Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Isakson (R-GA)
  • Johnson (R-WI)
  • Lankford (R-OK)
  • Lee (R-UT)
  • Manchin (D-WV)
  • McCain (R-AZ)
  • McConnell (R-KY)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Paul (R-KY)
  • Perdue (R-GA)
  • Portman (R-OH)
  • Risch (R-ID)
  • Roberts (R-KS)
  • Rounds (R-SD)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sasse (R-NE)
  • Scott (R-SC)
  • Sessions (R-AL)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Tester (D-MT)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Tillis (R-NC)
  • Toomey (R-PA)
  • Vitter (R-LA)
  • Wicker (R-MS)

Updated Monday, June 20 at 4:55 p.m. PT: This piece was updated with a full list of those who voted for and against Sen. Murphy's amendment to expand background checks.