Sen. Susan Collins said on Saturday that she would support the bipartisan compromise reached on expanded background checks — the first Republican senator to say so publicly.
“I do intend to support it,” the three-term Maine senator told NBC News.
Collins said she reviewed the bipartisan compromise, announced on Wednesday by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and called it a “reasonable” approach.
Under the deal, background checks would be expanded to gun shows and online sales.
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Further, Collins described the compromise as “a responsible breakthrough from two people who have far better NRA rankings than I have.”
Both senators hold “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association.
Collins, who is seeking re-election next year, told NBC that her endorsement was “not a popular thing in my state.”
In addition, GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois worked privately with Toomey and Manchin on the legislation and is expected to support it, NBC reports.
Collins told NBC that she would have backed a plan that required universal background checks, including individual sales. She cited the instance of a father giving his daughter a gun for protection when she “moves to the big city.”
Maine, Collins said, has one of the highest gun-ownership rates in the nation — more than 40 percent — while also ranking as the safest state regarding violent crime.
She added that she was “being hit hard” and “being besieged by all sides” in the gun debate, referring to ads targeting her by the conservative National Association of Gun Rights and President Barack Obama’s nonprofit group, Organizing for America.
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