An announcement Wednesday that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators supports a measure to expand gun background checks clears the way for the first congressional vote on major gun control legislation in two decades.

But no one should start celebrating just yet.

The broadening of background checks, which has significant public support, will be fought vigorously by the National Rifle Association and others.

The vote Thursday will only decide whether the Senate will take up the measure. If the coalition holds, that vote would be followed by debates and amendments.

This proposal, a modest effort to ensure more gun buyers undergo federal background checks, has a long way to go before it's law.

Currently, those attempting to buy firearms from federally licensed dealers undergo checks to determine whether they're eligible to buy a gun. This measure would extend the federal requirements to people buying weapons online or at gun shows.

But it would exclude some other gun sales that didn't involve advertising, so it's not as comprehensive as some had hoped.

Nevertheless, it is progress for federal lawmakers, who seem to be operating in slow motion in the wake of several mass shootings including the Aurora theater shootings that have galvanized public support for gun control measures.

In the meantime, Colorado passed several important gun bills, including universal background checks and limits on magazine sizes, before the Senate could even agree to discuss the least controversial measure among them.


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For the record, Colorado's U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, support the idea of expanding background checks. We're glad to hear it.

With such a effort just to get the background check measure to an initial vote, it's hard to envision a path to passage for an assault weapons ban or even a magazine limit, which Udall and Bennet support in principle, according to their offices.

Expansion of gun background checks is a small step toward addressing the problem of gun violence in this country, but it's an important one that could set the stage for other common sense reforms.

The Denver Post, April 11