Could the much trumpeted goal (by many on the Left and some on the Right) of universal background checks for gun sales be one step closer to being met? Apparently, according to the Washington Post, it is. The Post reports that a bipartisan group of unnamed US senators has struck a deal on the policy.
Senators striking the deal include Joe Manchin (D-WV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-Ill) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).
The deal in question certainly moves the ball on the issue. Current law only requires that background checks occur when purchases are made through a licensed dealer. The new law would expand that requirement to gun shows, the internet and “any circumstance in which there is paid advertising.” It is unclear how far this last set of requirements can be read to go, though.
The issue of universal background checks is a sticking one even in the pro-gun community. The National Rifle Association strongly opposes the idea on the grounds that it “criminalizes private firearms transfers between law-abiding individuals.” Members, however, appear more open. The NRA itself reportedly plans to introduce a competing bill via friendly Senators on the issue of background checks.
Nevertheless, the Democratic caucus has also been left somewhat cold, given that the proposed legislation does not cover every type of sale. All the same, if the Post report is correct, it should reach the Senate floor this week as part of larger legislation that will expand background checks, make gun trafficking a federal crime, and increase school security.
It is possible that the bill may get bogged down in parliamentary procedure, given that amendments from both parties will be allowed by Senate Democratic leadership. The Post reports on some of the possible amendments:
Senators from both parties are likely to introduce numerous amendments. One might establish an online portal for background checks and provide more federal funding for mental health programs assisting veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There also probably will be amendments backed by the NRA, designed to make the bill less onerous for gun owners and buyers.
Naturally, even with bipartisan support in the Senate, it’s highly possible that the bill will die in the House.
This story has been updated.