A bipartisan quartet of U.S. senators, including two National Rifle Association members and two with “F” ratings from the potent firearms lobby, are trying to find a compromise on expanding the requirement for gun-sale background checks, reports the Associated Press. A deal could add formidable political momentum to one of the key elements of President Obama’s gun control plan. Background checks now are required only for sales by the 55,000 federally licensed gun dealers, not for gun show, person-to-person sales, or other private transactions.
The senators’ talks have included discussions about ways to have states provide 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. The private discussions involve Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W VA), an NRA member, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), another NRA member, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL). “It will not limit your ability to borrow your Uncle Willie’s hunting rifle or share a gun with your friend at a shooting range,” Schumer said. Polls show that requiring background checks for nearly all gun purchases has more public support than Obama’s proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and it is among those given the best chance of enactment. Even so, it is opposed by the NRA and many congressional Republicans, who consider it intrusive and unworkable for a system they say already has flaws.