Was Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., waiting all along to pull the rug out on bipartisan gun control?
In an interview with Fox News, Coburn was asked about reports which suggested that a bipartisan agreement was at hand to expand background checks on gun sales. Coburn, according to these reports, had been working closely on the deal with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., but here's what he had to say about it:
"I don't think we're that close to a deal. And there absolutely will not be record keeping on legitimate law-abiding gun owners in this country. And if they want to eliminate the benefits of actually trying to prevent the sale to people who are mentally ill and criminals, all they have to do is create a record keeping and that will kill this bill."
After Coburn seemed to dump cold water on the prospects for bipartisanship, another report appeared in which sources close to Schumer tried to revive them. Jim Kessler, Schumer's former legislative director, told Bloomberg News that "they're close," while unnamed aides claimed that Schumer and Coburn had worked out "90% of their differences." "It's like climbing the summit of Mount Everest," Kessler said, "the oxygen gets pretty thin up there."
Fair enough. Perhaps Schumer's overtures to the gun-rights crowd will yield results. But the idea of Coburn as bipartisan bridge on a measure that's opposed by the National Rifle Association was always a little far-fetched. You can watch Martin's discussion of gun-law reform with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Washington Post political columnist Dana Milbank: