Days ago, supporters of gun restrictions suffered a blow when Reid decided to exclude a proposed assault weapons ban from the gun bill the Senate will debate.
Reid said the ban lacked the 60 votes it would need and including it would risk defeat of the entire package. The ban's sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., plans to offer the provision as an amendment that seems certain to lose.
In a hint of possible movement, Schumer and two other senators who have spent weeks searching for a bipartisan deal are considering several options, including requiring background checks and record keeping for private sales at gun shows and commercial sales online. It would exclude in-person, non-commercial transactions between people who know each other. The idea was described by a lobbyist and Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.
Other exclusions could include gun transactions between relatives and acquisitions by people with state-issued concealed carry permits, and there would be an online background check system for people in remote areas. Veterans officially determined to have some psychological problems would be given a way to appeal that decision, which would otherwise bar them from getting firearms.
Besides Schumer, the Senate's No. 2 Democratic leader, other senators involved are moderate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has an NRA A-rating for his votes, and moderate Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Schumer has been insisting on record keeping for all private gun sales, saying the files are needed to keep the system effective. That led to stalemated talks with conservative leader Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who says the data would lead to federal records on gun owners.
On Thursday, Bloomberg stepped up pressure on Congress to expand background checks, saying it would save lives and win broad public support.