ATLANTA (CNN) — Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, became the second Republican senator not directly involved in negotiating a bipartisan background check measure to say she will support it, according to a report Saturday by NBC News.
She described the bill as a responsible compromise between two senators - Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia - who have strong ratings from the National Rifle Association, according to NBC. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, is expected to support the deal.
Collins and 15 other Republicans voted Thursday to begin debating the gun issue, helping Democrats reach the 60 votes necessary under the threat of a filibuster. Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, both from conservative states and up for re-election in 2014, voted against it.
Collins is also up for re-election next year and hails from a state where gun ownership is strong.
One reason she will support the measure, she told NBC, is because the bill would not require background checks to be conducted on sales made to family members and by individuals, a key point of opposition to background checks from Republicans.
The compromise reached by Toomey and Manchin - as well as Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Mark Kirk, R-Illinois -- would extend the current federal background checks to sales made at gun shows and between states over the Internet. It would also require all states to recognize concealed weapons permits issued by other states.
It has the backing of President Barack Obama but was rejected by the National Rifle Association. Procedurally, it will be offered as an amendment to the bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that senators agreed to begin debating.
Collins found herself in the spotlight on the issue after her office initially offered the relatives of Newtown, Connecticut, shooting victims a meeting with her staff rather than the senator. Collins did end up meeting with the families on Wednesday and told both NBC and Politico that she was deeply moved by the conversation.