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Weeks ago, virtually no one thought it would happen, but it now seems possible Congress could enact new gun regulations, even against the wishes of powerful gun groups like the National Rifle Association.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have struck a bargain to expand background checks to firearms bought at gun shows and on the internet. But it is unclear how many of Toomey's Republican colleagues will vote for the bipartisan plan. Toomey said a number of them have expressed interest.
"But I don't know in the end how many will support it," said Toomey.
Gun rights groups have already come out against the proposal.
"The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson," the NRAsaid in a statement Wednesday, in reaction to the bipartisan plan.
"It's not a cure, but it's some progress," said Toomey.
"What this legislation does, what Sen. Manchin and I have tried to do, is find some common ground, find a way to expand background checks," said the Pennsylvania Republican. "If our legislation is successful, it would make it more difficult for the dangerously mentally ill, and for serious criminals to obtain these weapons."
The mental health component to the proposed plan is already drawing fire. Gun Owners of America summed up Toomey and Manchin's plan as the "see a shrink, lose your guns" plan.
"Under current law, states are able to provide information that they have ... about criminal records, and about people who are determined to be mentally dangerous, unstable," said Toomey. "They don't always provide that information to our background check system."
Some states provide very little of this information, and some provide a great deal, continued Toomey.
"What this legislation does, is it creates greater incentives for states to come up with a plan, and to fulfill that plan to provide that information, so that when a background check is run, it's more likely to capture the information ... if a person shouldn't be allowed to purchase a gun," said Toomey.