UPDATED 5:10 PM -
WASHINGTON --Three Philadelphia-area House Republicans praised Sen. Pat Toomey's compromise plan on background checks Wednesday, sending a signal that local Republicans could provide critical support to help the plan through the GOP-controlled House.
"I support Sen. Toomey's plan and thank him for his hard work," U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, of Delaware County, said in a statement. "The bipartisan agreement accomplishes the goals I set out at the beginning of this debate: it takes effective steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, and it protects the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans."
UPDATE: "This is a common-sense proposal that can make a real difference. As proposed, it deserves the support of the House," said Bucks County Republican Mike Fitzparick. "I will work with a bipartisan group in the House to introduce a similar proposal this week."
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, of Allentown, also sounded supportive of the bill crafted by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat.
"Preliminarily, it sounds like Sens. Toomey and Joe Manchin have come up with a reasonable plan, and one that I could support, as far as expanding and enhancing checks," Dent said.
Both Dent and Meehan stressed that the provisions of the plan would prevent a national gun registry - a prospect that the NRA has raised as it opposed broader background checks. Meehan, a former federal prosecutor, pointed out that the FBI would be required to destroy data identifying the purchaser of a gun within 24 hours of a successful background check.
Any new gun laws face a steep climb in the House, where many Republicans oppose new measures. It will take a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans to advance any bills. It seems like Republicans from the Philadelphia area could be part of that group.
Local Democrats have long been on record as supporting new gun laws. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Montgomery County Democrat who is running for governor, said:
"I applaud Sen. Toomey and Sen. Manchin for their bipartisan leadership to put forth a bill that will close the gun show loophole and expand background checks to online sales."