"I've talked to my friend Pat Toomey," Manchin told National Journal on Wednesday. "We are still working on the votes. Right now, we are in a different position, being in the minority. We have fewer Democrats."
Manchin says that the senators have to wait and see if "people want to do the most reasonable thing." When asked if he was undertaking a serious effort, Manchin said, "It is always serious.
"If people would just read the bill we have, it's not gun control; it is just gun sense," he said.
Yet there is still a lot of convincing to do.
"Colorado is a very pro-Second Amendment state," said Sen. Cory Gardner, the freshman from Colorado who replaced Udall, a background-check supporter. "The debate would be better served if we focused on [mental health] legislation."
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who was lobbied personally by former congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords during the 2013 gun debate, says he'd be very surprised if the issue made its way back to the Senate.
"The likelihood of something getting through the House and the Senate is extremely low," Flake said. "I think McConnell or Boehner are unlikely to entertain something that is just going to play out without getting anything done."
It appears that focusing on mental health is still the most likely way to push a change through in Congress. But more gun laws seem to be impossible. Many Republicans argue now—as they did two years ago—that more could be done to enforce gun laws already on the books.
"We have had 80,000 people fail a background check; 44 were prosecuted," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "Adding to the system that doesn't work does not make sense to me."
Even those sympathetic to rehashing the debate are dubious that a new vote could yield different results. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who voted in support of the legislation in 2013, said she still supports it, but is not that optimistic about a revival, nor does she believe the Senate really has the time to prioritize background checks at the moment.
"My vote would be the same," Collins said. "I thought the compromise that Senator Toomey and Senator Manchin came up with was fair and did not in any way infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. But there is an awful lot of work and legislation that has already been reported that I think it would be difficult to push aside in order to make room for this."
There is one scheduling loophole, however, that some gun-reform-minded senators are hoping could be used to force the issue in a Republican-controlled Congress.
In the Senate, McConnell has made a major push to have a more transparent and open floor debate. That—at times—has imperiled the Senate from getting its work done by a deadline. But it also allows the possibility for an amendment process in which interested parties could introduce a background-check bill as an amendment on another upcoming bill.