Two U.S. senators said Wednesday that they have reached a bipartisan deal to expand background checks at gun shows and for online purchases, as the Senate is set to begin its debate on gun control. Washington D.C. bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
For weeks, it appeared a compromise was out of hand, too politically complicated to reach.
But after intense negotiations, a deal was struck that would expand background checks for gun purchases.
"I don't consider criminal background checks to be gun control," said Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania. "I think it's just common sense."
Toomey, who has high ratings from the NRA, teamed up with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who also has high ratings from the NRA, to craft an amendment that they hope will get bipartisan support.
Sen. Charles Schumer also helped broker the agreement, but he didn't publicly roll it out, believing it made more sense for Manchin and Toomey to take center stage.
The deal would require background checks for gun show and online sales, but not for the transfer of weapons between private individuals.
"If you're going to go to a gun show, you should be subjected the same as if you went to the gun store," Manchin said. "If you're going to go online, you should be the same as if you bought across state lines, the same as if you're in state."
President Barack Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the deal, even though it would not create the universal background checks for which they had lobbied.
The NRA, however, refused to budge from its opposition. In a statement, the gun lobby said, "Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools."
In just the last few days, it appears momentum has been building on the side of gun safety supporters.
Some say it's the result of the families of Newtown victims coming to Washington and personally lobbying senators.
"They're walking the floors of Congress every single day to demand action, to say, 'My daughter died, my son died because of gun violence in this country, and you must be held accountable and you must do something,'" said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Debate is expected to begin on the legislation after the Senate votes Thursday to block a threatened Republican filibuster.