April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Two U.S. senators said they reached a bipartisan agreement to expand background checks of gun purchasers, boosting the prospects of a broader Senate plan to curb firearm violence.
The agreement will "prevent criminals and the mentally ill from getting firearms and harming people," Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, told reporters today. Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, was at his side at a news conference in Washington.
Toomey said, "I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control. It’s just common sense."
"It’s the people who fail a criminal or mental-health background check that we don’t want having guns," Toomey said.
Toomey’s backing may help draw the support of Republicans and Democrats from pro-gun states. Manchin has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, which opposes new gun restrictions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a procedural vote tomorrow on the gun legislation, which also would crack down on firearms trafficking and increase funding for school safety.
The measure is a scaled-back version of a gun-safety agenda President Barack Obama proposed after 20 children and six adults were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Obama’s proposals to renew a ban on assault weapons and limit the size of ammunition magazines were dropped from the Senate bill because of a lack of support from lawmakers.
Even if the legislation with background checks passes the Democratic-led Senate, it faces an uncertain future in the Republican-run House. "We’ll wait and see what the Senate does," Speaker John Boehner told reporters today.
Toomey and Manchin’s plan would expand current law to require background checks for gun sales over the Internet and between private parties at gun shows. Noncommercial person-to- person firearms sales wouldn’t be covered.