Obama Scores a Major Victory as Senate Reaches Bipartisan Agreement on Background Checks

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The announcement by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) that the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on background checks is a major victory for President Obama in his push for gun reform.

CNN is reporting that, “According to sources, the bipartisan agreement crafted by Manchin and Toomey — both rated as strong supporters of gun rights by the influential National Rifle Association — would require background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows as well as Internet sales.”

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The Senate already has the votes to overcome a promised Republican filibuster, and debate is expected to begin on the gun legislation tomorrow.

This development is a major victory for President Obama. The president has tirelessly advocated for changes in the nation’s gun laws after the Newtown shootings, while the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has repeatedly promised that no gun legislation would be passed. The fact that NRA favorites Toomey and Manchin are the two senators announcing the compromise should add to the NRA’s humiliation.

Majority Leader Harry Reid drew the ire of the left when he removed the assault weapons ban provision from the legislation, but it should be clear to those critics now that Reid didn’t kill gun reform. He saved it. If the assault weapons ban had been left in, the entire bill would have gone down to defeat. Because of Reid’s actions and this bipartisan compromise, the nation is on the cusp of seeing Senate passage of the first meaningful gun reform in two decades.

What will happen to the bill when it arrives at the dysfunctional Republican controlled House of Representatives is a mystery. One thing is certain, the fractured Republican caucus doesn’t pass anything easily or quickly, so expect lots of drama.

The closing of the gun show loophole is something that gun control advocates have been pushing for decades. Senate passage of expanded background checks will be a significant development given the NRA’s decades long monopoly on gun policy.

Some will try to minimize this achievement, but as with health care reform, major change begins with one step.

President Obama is fighting the NRA, and right now, he is winning.

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