Four new gun control laws were under consideration on Thursday in the Senate, but a key provision on background checks appears to be stalled.
Today Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is starting the bill markup process, which could extend into next week, giving negotiators more time to find a solution on background checks.
The Senate is considering separate bills on assault weapons and ammunition clips; more money for schools to buy safety equipment; and universal background checks.
Stricter laws on gun trafficking were approved by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning.
The widely anticipated law on background checks seems in danger, but Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma hinted on Thursday that a deal could still be reached.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer had broken off talks with Coburn on Wednesday. The two were part of a four-person team trying to broker a compromise deal on background checks.
On an MSNBC talk show, Coburn said negotiations still could be fruitful. He said one sticking point is the logistics of tracking gun transfers.
“I think we’ll ultimately get there even though, you know, the outside groups aren’t comfortable with it yet,” he said.
Schumer, Coburn, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois had been concentrating on closing the “gun show loophole,” a provision that excludes background checks for sales at private events.
Instead, Schumer will press on by offering a tougher bill he previously crafted on background checks. But Manchin and Kirk said on Wednesday they would oppose the effort to put that bill in as a “placeholder” until a compromise can be negotiated.
“We are committed to continuing to work in a bipartisan effort with Senators Schumer, Coburn and others in order to find a commonsense solution for enhanced background checks, however, Senator Schumer’s current proposal is one we cannot support as it stands today,” the two senators said in a statement.
The Washington Post said that Manchin and Kirk were working toward getting Republican support for the compromise they had negotiated with Schumer.
Last week, Coburn said that progress was stalled over whether people who sell guns directly to others should be required to keep records of the sale, in the same way that licensed dealers handle a transaction. Coburn said that was a deal breaker for an expanded background check law.
Some Democrats believe keeping records of private sales is needed because current federal law requires licensed gun dealers to keep similar records.
Since the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have pressed for expanded gun violence measures in several areas.
It’s unlikely that there is enough support currently in Congress to pass legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity gun clips.
Last month, Constitution Daily looked at polling questions on guns from nine different sources, including Fox News, NBC, ABC, Pew Research, and Gallup. On average, 89 percent of those people polled wanted expanded background checks.
Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he would oppose expanded background checks.
The National Rifle Association also is on record opposing expanding background checks.
The NRA and Goodlatte are opposed to a record-keeping requirement for private gun sales because they believe it will lead to a national gun registry. Democrats counter that a national gun registry is illegal and that their efforts are in good faith to make sure background checks are enforced better.
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