US Senate compromise sets stage for gun control debate

(Photo: Reuters / Brian Blanco)Firearms instructor Mike Magowan (R) looks on as a student, a teacher at a nearby high school, takes aim at a target down range as a group of public teachers takes part in a teachers-only firearms training class at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida January 11, 2013. The December 14 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has sparked a national debate about whether to arm teachers, prompting passionate arguments on both sides.

A day before the U.S. Senate gun control bill is set to begin debate, two senators from separate parties have reached a compromise on expanding background checks on firearms.

In a reported deal struck between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), background checks would be implemented for firearms purchases at gun shows as well as through Internet sales.

On the eve of Thursday's debate over gun control legislation being introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the compromise could be particularly crucial because both Manchin and Toomey are endorsed as "strong supporters" of gun rights by the National Rifle Association.

Democratic leadership remains optimistic that as many as 12 Republican senators will vote in favor of allowing the bill to go to debate tomorrow.

Such support will be necessary since only 55 senators are caucusing with or as Democrats, which means the party falls under the 60-mark needed to break a filibuster a prcudure that delays debate.

Fourteen GOP senators, including Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have pledged to filibuster any and all new gun control legislation.

The deal also follows a day of phone calls and grassroots initiatives to raise awareness over support for gun control. This included Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence urging congregations to call senators on the issue during April 9.

"Our clergy are the ones who bury those who die unnecessary deaths of gun violence," said James Winkler, Chair of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. "It's a terrible loss from so much gun violence."

Gun control has moved to the center of national discourse since a gunman killed 20 students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Following the Newtown shooting, Manchin, a staunch gun rights advocate, came out in support of serious reform.

"It's time to move beyond rhetoric," Manchin said to MSNBC in December. "We need to sit down and have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way."

It is believed that this deal will be the bill's first amendment.

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