Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have agreed to a compromise on expanding current background checks for firearm purchasers. According to USA Today, the announcement came on Wednesday just as the Senate prepares to launch into a debate concerning other gun control proposals.
“I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control. It’s just common sense,” Toomey said at a news conference. “If you pass…you get to buy a gun. It’s the people who fail that we don’t want having guns.”
The amended bill will extend background checks to all commercial gun sales, including sales made at gun shows or “online.” Private transactions such as those between family or friends will not be covered under the deal. How precisely the online component of the bill works is unclear, as persons who purchase firearms on the internet and have the firearm transferred via a federally licensed dealer currently must undergo a standard background check as with any other firearm purchase from a dealer.
The Washington Post reports that the compromise will require federally licensed firearm dealers to verify and record each background check within three days. A commission will also be established to study mass shootings and present possible solutions to Congress.
This compromise is the result of a long debate between both sides of the gun control issue, which at its strictest asked for background checks on all firearm transactions. Gun control advocates argued that a more stringent background check system will prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
The amendment proposed by Senators Toomey and Manchin is a step down from the background check bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to introduce, but gun owner groups like the National Rifle Association are not happy either.
“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,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. He further stated that, “The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora, or Tucson. We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies, while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone.”
The Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote for gun legislation on Thursday. The Democrats in favor of the proposals require 60 votes to avoid a filibuster by those opposed to the package. Manchin and Toomey believe that their amendment to the background check bill may pass the deeply divided legislature.
“I will tell you categorically that nothing in our amendment prevents the ownership of guns by any lawful person–and I wouldn’t support it if it did,” Toomey said.