The weapons ban, which would update a similar 1994 law that expired a decade later, already has been dropped, though Reid has promised a floor vote on it as an amendment to the package.
Some states already have passed stricter gun laws similar to the federal proposals since the Newtown shootings. They include Connecticut, where the killings occurred, and Colorado, the site of two other notorious mass shootings that contributed to a renewed gun debate in America.
The current background check system was created in 1989. It requires federally approved gun dealers to check whether gun buyers have a criminal background or other problem to make them ineligible to purchase a firearm.
Under the system, the gun dealer maintains a record of the transaction, but the federal government keeps no such identifying paperwork.
According to a Justice Department report, less than 2% of those seeking to purchase firearms were denied because of background checks from 1998 through 2009.
Opponents cite that figure as evidence that the system fails to stop illegal weapons sales that the legislation seeks to target, while supporters say the result shows the system keeps some guns out of the hands of the wrong people and the system should be expanded and strengthened.