Gun Control Efforts Revived in Senate

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Senators struck a bipartisan deal Wednesday to expand background checks in gun transactions, inflaming the National Rifle Association while drawing support from a growing number of lawmakers. The proposal, drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), calls for an incremental expansion of NICS background checks for sales at gun shows and over the Internet.

While both Senators are vocal gun owners and carry “A” ratings from the NRA, Toomey’s involvement in particular has concerned some on the right. In the 2010 midterm race, the NRA poured nearly $1.5 million into his election efforts. Now, faced with an electorate rich with Democrats in 2016, in Obama-friendly Pennsylvania, Toomey has pivoted away from his ally.

“I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control,” Toomey stated at a joint press conference with Manchin on Wednesday. “If you pass a criminal background check, you get to buy a gun.”

According to gun news hawk Ammoland, one of the long-decried ‘loopholes’ addressed by the proposal deals with private sellers who set up tables at gun shows to sell their own personal stocks of used guns. Since these sales are secondary and don’t go through a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL), no background check is required.

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) prepares to open the floor for gun talks, setting a roll call vote for Thursday on the topic, minority leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) contingent of conservatives ready to block the deal is rapidly shrinking. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are already backing the proposal, with many other legislators looking poised to follow suit.

The Manchin-Toomey bill will be the first amendment to the main Senate gun bill. It will kick off the discussion when the firearms debate- which could last through the end of April- begins this week.