Today the Senate decided that debate will take place on the only surviving gun control measure - so called "universal" background checks. So, what happens now and how could a bill make it to the president's desk?
First, the bill has to get out of the Senate. At this point we have only a vague idea of what this bill will include - but reportedly it will provide for background checks on sales at gun shows and over the internet (a minor issue since interstate sales must go through dealers under current law). Likely it will include language that allows sales between people "known to each other" without a background check - so it won't be universal. This mirrors current law in many "red" states. In addition, it reportedly will also include a ban on creating any kind of federal gun registry. When you consider where the debate started, there isn't much left of the original proposals.
Next, the anti-gun rights crowd will offer amendments to make it stronger - all of which will be defeated. In fact, many of these will be brought forward to enable Senators to vote against them. Included among these will be the so called "assault weapons" ban and magazine limits.
In addition to the anti-gun rights amendments, pro-gun rights amendments will be offered - at least some of which will pass and be attached to the bill. Some of these will be aimed at eliminating provisions that might be abused or that are unclear. Others will be flat out pro-gun amendments.
Most likely to be passed is a requirement that states recognize each other's carry permits just as they do driver's licenses. This has the best chance of passing. Next in line would be a requirement that every state issue permits to anyone who meets reasonable and objective standards. Given that 82 senators represent states with this policy, this will likely pass as well.
This will place the gun control advocates and the administration in a difficult position. Do they kill the bill because of the right to carry provisions, or do they support a compromise that gives both sides something they want?
If they want to get a bill passed they will have to compromise - because the Senate is the easy part. Before it gets to President Obama's desk, it has to get through the House. Without significant pro-gun rights provisions, that simply is not going to happen.
So, if they are smart, the administration and gun control advocates will allow expansion of right to carry in exchange for increased background checks. If they are stubborn and refuse to compromise, they will get nothing - and they will likely see the courts give pro-gun forces expanded right to carry on 2nd Amendment grounds, since a federal appeals court has already done just that.
How can the Dems get a gun control bill to Obama's desk? One word: COMPROMISE.