More than two weeks have passed since a bipartisan proposal that would have required background checks on the commercial sales of all guns failed to pass in the U.S. Senate .
The amendment to Senate Firearms Bill 649, co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Patrick Toomey, and West Virginia Democrat Joseph Manchin, won 54 "Yeas' and 46 "Nays' but failed to achieve the 60-vote "super-majority' the Senate has imposed upon itself.
While the powerful gun lobby is crowing over its well-bought success, legislators who ignored the will of more than 80 percent of Americans and opposed the potentially life-saving proposal, are now paying the price at the polls.
According to the latest series of surveys released by Public Policy Polling, the five senators from Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio who voted against the universal background checks for gun purchases have seen their approval ratings decline.
Both Alaska senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich, experienced declines of at least 8 points in their approval ratings in the wake of their opposition to the Manchin/Toomey amendment.
Forty-six percent of Nevada voters who were polled last week said they were less likely to support Republican Sen. Dean Heller in light of his vote against the Manchin/Toomey amendment.
Thirty-six percent of Ohio voters said because of his opposition to background checks for gun purchases, they were less likely to support Republican Sen. Rob Portman whose approval rating has plummeted 18 points in the last six months.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has earned the dubious distinction of being one of the most unpopular senators in the United States after only three months in office, earning an approval rating of only 32 percent following his opposition to the stricter gun law.
He formerly served in the U.S. House of Representatives with Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, a gun owner who supports universal background checks. Giffords resigned her congressional seat after suffering severe brain trauma when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire with a 9mm Glock 19 in January 2011 while she was meeting with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. He killed six people and injured 13, including Giffords.
But it was the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults by 20-year-old Adam Lanza with at least 150 rounds from an AR-15 style Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 that moved Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, to campaign for tougher gun control laws.
It was also the impetus for both Toomey and Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. to change their stances in favor of stricter gun control measures.
Tuesday afternoon, during an editorial board meeting with representatives of several local newspapers, Toomey reiterated that he did not see expanded background checks for gun purchases as a violation of Second Amendment rights, but just plain common sense.
He admitted that he was still trying to understand why 46 of his colleagues in the Senate opposed it other than, perhaps, they didn't want to support any legislation advocated by President Obama.
If politics is indeed the main reason senators voted against the amendment to expand gun background checks, it clearlyhas backfired for them, judging from their loss of popularity among voters.
Conversely, the bipartisan compromise has served Toomey well. According to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, Toomey's approval rating has reached a personal high of 48 percent with 54 percent of the voters polled thinking more favorably of Toomey because of his amendment for universal gun background checks. Only 12 percent disapproved of him for it.
Toomey noted that he doesn't put much credence in polls.
"Frankly, I don't know what that means. I don't know how lasting that is likely to be. The one that counts is the one we do on Election Day,' said Toomey.
Flake's press secretary has also tried to diminish the importance of polls after the pitiful rating the Arizona senator earned following his vote against universal background checks. She maintains that if earlier polls were to be believed, her boss never would have been elected.
It still doesn't change the fact that, after flouting the will of the people, Jeff Flake is one of the least liked senators in office.