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Modest Gun Law Reform May Finally Be On The Way

  • 07.15.13 02:53 PM EDT

In a debate that's often divided quite neatly along party lines, a bipartisan pairing of two Senators could be the tipping point. Conservative Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey are coming together to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate on gun control -- an event that's seemed politically impossible.

Senators voted today 68-31 to allow a vote on a new background check bill. A report in the the Huffington Post describes the bill like this:

The bill would expand background checks to all commercial gun transactions, including those that take place at gun shows, according to a source close to negotiations. It would exempt family transfers and gifts or temporary transfers for hunters and sportsmen, though the exact language was still being negotiated. There will be record-keeping for transactions in which a background check takes place, though it remained unclear who would keep those records. The expanded background checks would be done through a federal firearm license holder instead of through an online portal — a policy win for gun control advocates.

Manchin, a Senator from West Virginia, has been looking long and hard for a Republican partner for gun-control reform -- and recently, he found it in Senator Toomey from Pennsylvania. According to the New York Times, the two gun-owning legislators found themselves on the same Amtrak train and started the conversation that lead to them teaming up -- an alliance that allowed the bill to come overcome attempts at a filibuster.