Bipartisan group of senators looks to expand background checks

Updated
Sens. Charles Schumer and Tom Coburn during President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.
Sens. Charles Schumer and Tom Coburn during President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.
File photo by Evan Vucci/AP

A bipartisan group of senators is endorsing President Obama’s call to expand background checks for gun buyers.

The lawmakers crafting the proposed legislation include Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma (both of whom have “A” ratings from the NRA) and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York (who each earned an “F” rating). “I think you’re going to see very likelihood in the next week or two, a proposal that has broad support for universal background checks,” said Schumer on NBC’s Meet The Press recently. He is author of a universal background check bill and has been consulting with “pro-gun Democrats” and Republicans to find common ground on this controversial issue.

The Associated Press reported the compromise may include “ways to encourage states to make more mental health records available to the national system, and the types of transactions that might be exempted from background checks, such as sales among relatives or to those who have permits to carry concealed weapons.”

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri expressed doubt this newly formed gun control posse would succeed in getting any legislation through the Senate. “I’m not sure the Senate can produce any legislation that changes this,” said Blunt, a recipient of big campaign donations from the National Rifle Association. “I’m willing to look at it–I have in the past voted for ways to expand background checks at gun shows. I’m not for a law that would mean that two neighbors couldn’t be able to trade shot guns….most of my energy is going on the mental health side.”

A poll suggests this bipartisan quartet will have the majority of Americans on their side. According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, 97% of the publics supports background checks on all gun buyers. Among gun-owning households, 91% support universal background checks. While the majority of Americans want more gun control, 46% said that the NRA better reflects their view on guns. Only 43% said President Obama does.

Last month Manchin talked about this bipartisan effort on a West Virginia radio show: “Why would a legitimate gun retail shop have to go through that, but then the unfair advantage for someone at a gun show doesn’t?” He said that closing the gun show loophole is just “common sense.”

While all of this is promising for gun control advocates, any legislation would still need 60 votes to pass in the Senate.

Bipartisan group of senators looks to expand background checks

Updated