McCain gives background checks deal a thumbs up
ATLANTA (CNN) — A bipartisan Senate deal that would expand background checks on gun sales received a tentative endorsement on Sunday by a top conservative, Sen. John McCain, who said he was "very favorably disposed" to the measure.
"Eighty percent of the American people want to see a better background check procedure," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union," adding the country "wants to do what we can to prevent these tragedies and there's a lot more that needs to be done."
McCain was one of the first to criticize an ill-fated Republican-led filibuster of efforts to start debate on gun legislation. The Senate voted last week to take up the measure.
Brokered by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, the deal would extend background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.
Appearing on CNN with Manchin, Toomey told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley he expected the measure to come up for a vote next week and it was an "open question" on whether it would pass.
"What we're asking for is just for our colleagues to read it," Manchin added.
Two other Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois, have come out in support of the measure.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and others have been noncommittal, saying they want more time to read the proposal.
Some conservative Democrats are also on the fence, mindful of the pro-gun constituencies in the red states they represent.
Himself a conservative Democrat representing a traditionally red state, Manchin said he wasn't calculating the political risk of pushing forward with gun control laws.
While he's enjoyed the backing of the National Rifle Association in the past, the group now forcefully opposes his initiative.
Manchin was clearly moved by the families of those killed in last December's school massacre in Connecticut, which has prompted the current drive for stricter gun laws backed by President Barack Obama.
Manchin called them "the strongest people I've ever met with."
Toomey also claimed he wasn't overly concerned with the political blowback from conservative voters, saying he'd let "the political chips fall where they fall."
A background check compromise is expected to be unveiled in the House this week.