Wednesday morning brought two new developments in gun-control legislation, most significantly in a background check deal that seemed all but dead at the start of the week.
And in another step forward for gun-control advocates, the NRA reached an agreement with a bipartisan group of Senators on legislation to combat illegal gun trafficking.
The deal that would expanding background checks was forged by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the latter of whom has become an unlikely saviour for gun-control advocates in the last few days. Both of the Senators have earned strong support from the NRA in the past, which said on Wednesday that it opposes the deal.
“Candidly, I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control,” Toomey said at a joint press conference Wednesday morning. “I think it’s just common sense.”
Here are some of the specifics in the proposed background check bill:
- All background checks would be conducted by federally licensed firearms dealers, who need to record that a background check was performed.
- The bill explicitly bans the creation of a national firearms registry, and imposes a felony charge with up to 15 years in prison on any person who “misuses or illegally retains firearms records.”
- It closes the so-called “gun show loophole” by requiring background checks on all commercial sales, whether at gun shows or via the Internet.
- It creates a commission to “study the causes of mass violence”
The NRA blasted the bill in a statement:
“Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools. While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg’s “universal” background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows.”
However, the NRA did reach an agreement with Sens. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) on legislation to combat illegal gun trafficking and so-called straw purchases.
In a statement, the Senators hailed the legislation as one that, for the first time, creates specific criminal statutes for the trafficking and straw purchase of guns. Straw purchases occur when a person cannot pass a background check, so they have someone else who can pass it buy a firearm for them.
The background check bill’s overall fate in the Senate remains unclear, but Democrats appear to have the votes to overcome a GOP-led filibuster and begin debate on Thursday.
The bill got immediate support, too, in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said in a statement that they would introduce similar legislation in the House.
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