Democrats Hit Pause on Gun Control Vote, Hoping for a Compromise

“Maybe it’s a personal responsibility not to shoot people with guns,” said Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, “and maybe people who don’t live up to that responsibility ought to be in prison for a very, very long time — like forever.”

Beyond elective office, some Republicans seemed to have had enough. Bill Frist, a former Tennessee senator who served as majority leader from 2003 to 2007, wrote on Twitter: “I can’t imagine this is what the Founding Fathers hoped for or intended. We can find ways to preserve the intent of the Second Amendment while also safeguarding the lives of our children.”

Such sentiments were hard to find among elected Republicans.

Mr. Schumer framed his call for negotiations as strategic. A quick vote on House-passed legislation to strengthen background checks would all but certainly be filibustered. Republicans would complain about wasting time with political show votes. Democrats would castigate Republicans for their opposition. Nothing would be accomplished, and the Senate would move on.

Negotiations, at least, could keep gun safety a live issue for a while.

“When things like this happen, I think it awakens sensibilities to the bigger picture — I will not say greater good, but the greater collective response,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, said of the Uvalde bloodshed. “I think that’s what we’re all probably grappling with right now.”

But it was not clear that much had changed. Mr. Manchin indicated that he was not dropping his opposition to changing the Senate filibuster rules, which would allow Democrats to push through gun control legislation over unified Republican opposition. He insisted that, with good will, a broad compromise could be reached and such a move would be unnecessary.

“If we can’t get 70 or 75 senators that won’t vote to have a common sense protection of your children and grandchildren, what in the world are we here for?” Mr. Manchin demanded. “What’s your purpose for being in the United States Senate? If it’s not at least to protect the children?”

The initial start to talks has begun. Mr. Murphy reached out to Mr. Toomey and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, two of the four Republicans who voted for the bipartisan background check bill co-sponsored by Mr. Manchin in 2013.

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