Let a cheer, however muffled, arise for the bipartisan deal on expanded background checks announced Wednesday by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa.
The agreement does not close all the loopholes in current law on background checks for gun purchasers. It is not as tough as President Obama wants. But it is progress.
It is evidence that the campaign to reduce gun violence begun in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is not dead.
Toughening background checks to stop criminals and people with mental health problems, among others, from buying guns is a key element of reform. Mr. Obama's proposal would cover nearly every gun transaction. The Manchin-Toomey deal would expand the current requirement for background checks to cover all commercial sales, but would exempt most private sales among individuals.
No compromises have been announced between Second Amendment absolutists and gun-control advocates on other elements of Mr. Obama's gun reforms, and it is unlikely that there will be any.
Still, Mr. Manchin and Mr. Toomey have proved that it is possible for a Democrat and a Republican to work together for the good of the country in today's highly polarized Washington. That is cause for hope.
As is another breakthrough Wednesday. It's now considered likely that the Manchin-Toomey deal and other elements of anti-gun-violence legislation will actually be debated on the Senate floor and receive the up-or-down vote requested by the relatives of the Newtown victims.
A bullying group of conservative Republican senators had threatened to filibuster the bill so that it wouldn't even get debated. But another group of Republicans have commendably pledged to side with a majority of Democrats to allow debate, amendments and votes on the merits of the bill. It's now considered likely that the pro-debate side will have the needed 60 votes.
How could there not be debate on an issue so important? It looks as if the Sandy Hook parents who are talking to members of Congress are making some headway with their "love and logic" lobbying.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun