Blow to NRA: Bipartisan Agreement Expands Background Checks

Provision stops short of universal background checks when buying guns, but it's a start.

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A bipartisan duo of senators with A ratings from the National Rifle Associated havereached a deal to expand background checks to private gun purchases that occur in commercial settings.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) will announce the details of the plan during a press conference Wednesday morning. Currently, only federally licensed gun dealers are required to conduct background screenings.

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Under the Manchin-Toomey agreement, background checks will occur for sales conducted at gun shows, online, and through public advertisements with full record keeping, which advocates see as essential for enforcement and tracing crime guns. Friend-to-friend and family sales will be exempt from the requirement.

And while the plan stops short of the far more expansive background check provision offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — that measure would have extended background checks to all gun sales outside of close family transfers — the new agreement builds momentum for reform and may come as a blow to the 14 conservatives who have pledged to block debate of any new gun regulations.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on Tuesday and the first procedural vote on the motion to commit is scheduled for Thursday. Today, groups representing gun safety advocates and victims and survivors of gun violence announced that they will read the names of the 3,300 people who has been killed by guns since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut until the Senate agrees to debate and vote on the package.

While Congressional Republicans have yet to weigh in on the agreement, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — who is seen as a likely 2016 presidential nominee — told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that he will strongly consider the compromise and may be open to expanding background checks to gun shows.

 

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Igor Volsky is a vice president at the Center for American Progress and the deputy director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.