U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, also voted Wednesday against the bipartisan Toomey-Manchin amendment to expand background checks for potential gun purchasers.
Like U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Corker said he supported what is known as the Grassley amendment.
“Like most Americans, I want to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and dangerous mentally ill people,” Corker said in a press release Wednesday evening. “Today, I supported the Grassley amendment to enhance mental health reporting requirements, which I believe is the central issue, and to improve the background check system in a way that is not an impediment to Second Amendment rights.
“Unfortunately, the Toomey-Manchin amendment overly burdens a law-abiding citizen’s ability to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights and creates uncertainty about what is and is not a criminal offense when it comes to gun ownership.”
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated several gun-control measures proposed four months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Wednesday’s votes were considered major defeats for supporters of tougher gun laws.
Other amendments would have banned assault weapons (some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons) and a ban on high-capacity gun magazines. The amendments needed 60 votes under an agreement both parties had reached to consider them.
On Wednesday, Alexander said the proposal offered by senators Chuck Grassley, a Iowa Republican, and Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, would strengthen federal prosecution under existing gun laws and clarify which records must be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
It would also target criminals, such as gang members who are responsible for putting guns in the hands of violent offenders, Alexander said.
The Toomey-Manchin amendment had been proposed by senators Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and it was considered to have the greatest chance of passing.