The NRA wants Congress to fund more armed guards at schools, step up prosecutions of people who file false gun applications and increase the background check system's access to state records of people with serious mental illness and other problems.
If not included in the overall gun bill, an expansion of background checks could have been offered as an amendment. But that would have likely meant it would have needed support from 60 of the 100 senators to prevail - a difficult hurdle for Democrats.
Including expanded checks in the gun legislation signals either of two courses by Democrats: A feeling that they can win bipartisan support for the measure, or a willingness to essentially challenge Republicans to reject the entire gun-control package and face the political consequences in next year's elections.
Reid said during next months' debate, he will allow votes on amendments including an assault weapons ban, curbs on high-capacity ammunition magazines and mental health. There is wide-ranging agreement that many states poorly report mental health records to the federal background check system.
Days ago, supporters of gun restrictions suffered a blow when Reid decided to exclude a proposed assault weapons ban from the gun bill the Senate will debate.
In a hint of possible movement, Schumer and two other senators who have spent weeks searching for a bipartisan deal are considering several options, including requiring background checks and record keeping for private sales at gun shows and commercial sales online. It would exclude in-person, non-commercial transactions between people who know each other. The idea was described by a lobbyist and Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.
Besides Schumer, the Senate's No. 2 Democratic leader, other senators involved are moderate Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has an NRA A-rating for his votes, and moderate Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois.