The Senate Judiciary Committee will examine gun control measures at a hearing on Tuesday morning, in the wake of two mass shootings in the past week that left at least 18 people dead and created mounting pressure for Congress to break a decades-long cycle of inaction on gun violence.
The hearing, scheduled by Senate Democrats before the Boulder shooting, comes as the party had already begun advancing stricter gun control measures that face long odds in the 50-50 chamber. House Democrats passed two bills this month aimed at expanding and strengthening background checks for gun buyers, by applying them to all gun buyers and extending the time the F.B.I. has to vet those flagged by the national instant check system.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee quickly signaled that the shootings had created a new sense of urgency on Capitol Hill to tackle an issue that has long bedeviled Congress, where a grim pattern of anguish and outrage followed by partisanship and paralysis has become the norm following mass shootings.
“Editing my opening statement for tomorrow’s hearing on gun violence only to look up & see the news reporting six killed by a gunman in Boulder,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote on Twitter before the death toll rose to 10. “How many more lives must be lost before we enact the gun violence prevention our country so desperately needs?”
But the twin pieces of legislation passed in the House have been deemed too expansive by most Republicans — only eight House Republicans voted to advance the universal background check legislation. The bills would almost certainly not muster the 60 votes needed to clear a filibuster in the Senate.
The renewed focus on gun control is expected to cast attention back on Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who opposes dismantling the legislative filibuster but has long labored — fruitlessly — to pass a bipartisan control proposal. Following the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Manchin brokered a deal with Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, to close legal loopholes that allow people who purchase firearms at gun shows or on the internet to avoid background checks, but proponents were unable to pick up enough support to pass it.
Mr. Manchin told CQ Roll Call earlier this month that he opposed the House-passed universal background check bill, citing its provision requiring checks for sales between private citizens, but said he was interested in reviving the Manchin-Toomey legislation.