Updated at 2:50 pm EDT
Six years ago today, 32 people were gunned down on the campus of Virginia Tech, notes former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a 2011 outdoor shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that also killed a federal judge and five others, as she makes the rounds of the U.S. Capitol today pressing for action in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.
Six years ago we lost too many lives at Virginia Tech shooting. I’m working hard to prevent more tragic deaths from gun violence. join me.
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) April 16, 2013
As Senate Democratic leaders struggle to find the 60 votes needed to approve amendments to the gun safety bill they are trying to take to the floor this week, Giffords was meeting today with Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who has joined with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania in sponsoring an amendment to require more stringent background checks of gun buyers.
Giffords also was meeting today with the Democratic caucus — two of whom, Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mark Begich of Alaska, voted last week to prevent the gun bill from advancing. Sixteen Republicans joined most of the Democrats and two independents in voting to advance the bill, but few of those appear ready to support the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
Last week, parents and other relatives of the Newtown victims pressed Congress for action — and the Senate voted to advance the bill. Today, Giffords is here, once again asking for a vote.
— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) April 10, 2013
Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said today he hoped that “powerful” speeches to the Senate Democratic caucus by Manchin and Giffords’ husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, would help get more Democratic votes for the background-check provision. “A lot of people are struggling at this point,” he said, noting supporters need nine or 10 Republicans to get the 60-vote super-majority needed.
Heidi Przybyla and Jim Rowley contributed to this report from the Capitol. See their full report here.