Speaking exclusively to NBC News, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is the first GOP senator to say publicly she will vote for the bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks for the sale of guns online and at gun shows.
Collins said "I do intend to support it" now that she has reviewed the actual text of the Manchin-Toomey bill and calls it a "reasonable" approach. Collins described the Manchin-Toomey effort as "a responsible break through from two people who have far better NRA rankings than I have." Both Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia and Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, hold "A" ratings from the National Rifle Association. Collins added she knows her yes vote and support is "not a popular thing in my state."
Again, the private sale loophole is definitely far short of universal background checks, and the federal enforcement increases of existing laws are all in another bill. So the bill that started out with universal background checks, magazine size limits, limits on the sale of military-style weapons and increased enforcement has become some background check expansion on commercial sales only, and if Collins is backing it, there's a very good chance it'll make it out of the Senate.
And it took 19 years for that. It's an accomplishment, but it comes with the baggage. And again, I put the odds of this making it out of the House at near single digits. I hope I'm wrong, but I just don't see enough Republicans -- and Democrats -- risking their NRA ratings for this.