03/21/2013 11:50 pm ET Updated May 22, 2013

Game On for Gun Background Checks

After rejecting an assault weapons ban as part of a comprehensive gun control bill, Senate Majority Harry Reid backed off threats to also scuttle universal background checks.

Sure, it's disappointing for gun control advocates to lose the assault ban, but expanding background checks -- and cracking down on gun show trafficking -- is still a step forward. Indeed, anything that makes it harder for criminals to get handguns and the like could actually save more lives than banning assault weapons.

Reid promised to allow a separate vote on the assault ban, but its chances for passage are diminished without being included in the larger bill.

Reid, in a statement: "I will start the process of bringing a bill to reduce gun violence to the Senate floor. This bill will include the provisions on background checks, school safety and gun trafficking reported by the Judiciary Committee. I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed. If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill. But I want to be clear: in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks."

Bowing to pressure from gun control advocates who were furious at Reid's plan to deny votes on the assault ban and other embattled provisions the Senate's top Democrat now says everything will at least get an up-or-down vote, no matter how remote passage might me.

More Reid: "The bill I advance will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do."