Senate to start gun control amendment votes Wednesday

Manchin and Toomey’s deal would expand background checks to cover all sales at gun shows and over the Internet. Those background checks would have to be accompanied by records proving to law enforcement officials they took place. It would exempt gun sales and transfers between friends and acquaintances, and explicitly ban the federal government from creating a national firearms registry.

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The Senate is debating S.649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, which would expand background checks on gun purchases, crack down on gun trafficking and beef up security in schools. GOP senators have vowed to block that bill, claiming it goes too far and infringes on the rights of gun owners.

The bill doesn’t include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clip capacity — although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised Wednesday votes on those provisions as amendments from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

Reid also set up amendment votes on the following amendments for Wednesday: Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) GOP substitute amendment; Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins's (R-Maine) amendment on gun trafficking; Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) amendment on conceal and carry rules; Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-N.C.) amendment protecting gun rights of veterans; Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) amendment on privacy of gun owners; and a mental health amendment from Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

All of those amendments will be held to a 60-vote threshold. Reid has promised an open amendment process, so several more amendments could receive votes if additional agreements are reached.

Democrats have been pushing for stricter gun laws since December, when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“In these final hours, we're engaged in a full court press on both sides of the aisle for a bipartisan compromise," Blumenthal said after the amendment agreement was announced. "These votes afford an opportunity to keep faith with the families of Newtown, and 3,400 victims of gun violence since that unspeakable tragedy. Just as the world has watched Newtown since December 14, Newtown will be watching the U.S. Senate tomorrow."

This article was updated at 8:50 p.m. to include Sen. Blumenthal's statement.

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