Tea Party Backed Sen. Pat Toomey Leading GOP Surrender on Gun Control?

Unwelcome news out of Pennsylvania.

Two influential senators, one from each party, are working on an agreement that could expand background checks on firearms sales to include gun shows and online transactions, Senate aides said Sunday.

If completed, the effort could represent a major breakthrough in the effort by President Barack Obama and his allies to restrict guns following last December's massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., could nail down an accord early this week, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private talks.

This is terrible both on substance and on politics. On substance, there is no reason to think that any of the measures currently being debated would have stopped the Newtown killer. He stole his guns from his mother, who would have passed any background check. He even took gun safety courses. He failed his own background check. Substantively, when Republicans and Democrats get together in back room deals like this one, they not only violate the idea of open government, they end up getting railroaded by the Democrats. As a conservative, Toomey's attachment to any measure weakens the hands of other conservatives and moderate Democrats who may otherwise steer clear of passing any gun control bill.

On the politics, handing the Obama side a gun control victory could resuscitate his flailing presidency and encourage him to go for more. There are several gun control proposals floating around. The president still wants an "assault" weapons ban, and Vice President Biden has said that whatever passes now is "only the beginning." No victory now will slake their thirst for more later.