As of now, more than a dozen Republicans, led by 2016 would-bes Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have lined up to do the NRA's bidding. They've signed on to a letter to President Obama promising they will filibuster any attempt to expand background checks and/or crack down on interstate gun trafficking.
Paul’s follow-up letter, obtained by POLITICO, bears Monday’s date and is signed by 13 Republicans, including fellow potential 2016 presidential aspirant Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)—who signed on shortly after Paul’s first threat was issued—and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas. [...]The letter reiterates that these senators are committed to blocking legislation from even proceeding to debate, saying, "[w]e will oppose the motion to proceed on any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has some procedural options available to bring the bill to the floor anyway under the new Senate rules, provided he can get Mitch McConnell's agreement. If both sides agree to two amendments being allowed from each side, they can break the filibuster on a motion to proceed to debate. That's a sort of big if.
In addition to Paul, Lee, Cruz, Rubio and Moran, the Republican who have signed the second letter are Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho, Dan Coats of Indiana and Pat Roberts of Kansas.
Of course, Reid could also go nuclear, and change the rules with a simple majority vote. This weekend, he made an explicit threat to do just that, but over judges and not necessarily over other legislation. The best way to achieve that is to create enough pressure on the rest of the Senate Democrats that they in turn pressure him.
President Obama is doing his part to pressure senators, along with families of the massacred Newtown children. It will be a real showdown, the "freedom-loving" senators standing in the way of universal background checks, the most basic and popular gun safety proposal, versus the families of 11 slain children.