February 5th, 2013
10:30 AM ET
2 years ago

Cantor says background checks a possibility

Washington (CNN) – The number two House Republican said Tuesday that he supports beefed up background checks for gun sales, an indication of where potential gun control legislation could be headed on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash that a system put in place in his home state of Virginia following the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech could be a model for a nationwide measure.

He said that model ensured mental health information was linked to databases used in background checks during gun sales.

"I think that we can take a lot of lessons from what Virginia did and put it in place at the federal level, because there are a lot of states that aren't doing what Virginia is doing to try and beef up the database for the background checks to make sure that we actually can do something that does have a chance at reducing the likelihood and hopefully eliminating it from happening again," Cantor said.

Expanding background checks on gun sales is one of the measures being pushed by President Barack Obama, who spoke in Minneapolis Monday and pressed Congress to act on the legislative proposals he advanced following December's shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Along with background checks, Obama wants a ban on semi-automatic rifles modeled after military weapons as part of an updated version of an earlier weapons ban that expired in 2004.

Democrats have said the background check measure would stand the best chance of garnering bipartisan support, including from some pro-gun Democrats. Even if passed by the Senate, a gun bill would face tougher scrutiny in the Republican-led House.

Obama said Monday that lawmakers in Congress from both parties were working together on plans that would expand background checks to all gun purchases and criminalize "straw purchases" in which legal gun owners buy weapons for people prohibited from doing so.

Guns sold through private sales currently avoid background checks - the so-called gun show loophole.

Cantor said Tuesday that he supports "making sure that we increase the quality of information in the database that is in existence already."

On another hot-button topic – immigration – Cantor said any plan on reforming the system currently in place must include increased border security and a guest worker program before any discussion of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.

He stopped short of saying that he himself supported a route to citizenship, saying instead he wanted to wait and see where negotiations between Democrats and Republicans led.

"I am for addressing these problems so that we can see a better future for more Americans," he said.

A bipartisan group of senators recently presented a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a "tough but fair" path to citizenship hinged upon bolstering the nation's border security.

The plan comes as Republicans seek to find ways to appeal to minority voters, including Latinos, who overwhelmingly supported Obama in November's election.

Cantor himself is attempting to give the Republican Party a message makeover during a speech Tuesday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

In a sharp departure from the GOP's emphasis on slashing federal spending, bringing down the deficit and moving legislation to assist the "job creators," Cantor is rolling out a more personal appeal in the speech, which asserts Republicans can help Americans "make life work."

Cantor is hoping to put last year's bruising fiscal battles that pit House Republicans against President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats behind and turn the page to a new approach that demonstrates the GOP cares about problems Americans confront in their daily lives.

"I think that there's a lot of lessons to be learned from the last election," Cantor said Tuesday. "And, you know, frankly there are a lot of moms and dads out there that are hurting right now, a lot of working people that are having a real struggle trying to get through the month and too many millions of Americans out of work. And I think what we all need to do is to focus on how we're going to make life work for those people again."

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Eric Cantor • Gun rights • Immigration
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "a system put in place in his home state of Virginia following the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech could be a model for a nationwide measure."

    Hahaha...so they're going to set up another situation in which people compromise and adopt some national variation on a state plan and then the GOP/Teatrolls go freekin ludicrous over it? Someone let the 10thers know this is their cue...

    February 5, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. ThinkAgain

    Google LaPierre May 27, 1999 and watch the NRA emphatically state they want background checks for everyone, no exceptions, no loopholes.

    February 5, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "frankly there are a lot of moms and dads out there that are hurting right now"

    Not so hurting that a few million of them couldn't afford to try to buy guns that cost several hundred to thousands of dollars last month. Did they pinch the penny and switch from Chef Boyardee to the store-bought stuff so they could afford their new Sig-Sauer? Their poor kids can't even have the good stuff because daddy's a loon.

    February 5, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Guns sold through private sales currently avoid background checks – the so-called gun show loophole."

    Most interesting in all of this background check meme is that a majority of Americans think gun ownership CAN be traced from owner to owner. Too much T.V. giving such erroneous impressions to the multitude of uninformed, I suspect. But, kudos to Cantor for seeing the need to stop private sales. Unless Limbaugh rakes Cantor over the coals and he (Cantor) recants. Which is a very good possibility.

    And, oh, BTW. Cantors job creator meme is getting old, abused, and absolutely comical (quoted below) deserving nothing but a "Yeah. Whatever" response.

    "And, you know, frankly there are a lot of moms and dads out there that are hurting right now, a lot of working people that are having a real struggle trying to get through the month and too many millions of Americans out of work. And I think what we all need to do is to focus on how we're going to make life work for those people again."

    Yeah. Whatever.

    February 5, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. v_mag

    There are so many ironies floating around the people who are intent on owning murder weapons. For instance:

    They fear and hate the government, because it might someday reach out and take their weapons. However, they LOVE the military and support every war that comes down the pike, even though that same military would be the arm of government that, in their fantasies, would be coming to disarm them.

    They claim to want guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unfit. Yet, they oppose registration, background checks, and the elimination of un-tracked private arms sales and gun shows. All of those steps would tend to keep guns away from the bad guys, but NRA-types generally oppose them.

    They say they abhor gun violence, yet they demand we fix the problem by throwing more gasoline on the fire.

    What a mixed-up bunch of lunatics. That thinking is so looney that you'd have to conclude that the NRA folks are not mentally fit to possess firearms of any type, which may explain their ability to have mutually contradictory views without batting an eye.

    February 5, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. Bill from GA

    Background checks are probably good. And lock up anyone attempting to buy one illegally, or possessing one illegally.

    Let's also get a Federal law against using a gun to commit a crime. With a long sentence. Apply it for any age perp, at least fourteen years old and higher.

    These measures will help a little.

    February 5, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. Sniffit

    NRA positions:

    National, universal background check database for gun ownership and transactions: "OMG, everyone freak out...tyranny tyranny!!!! they want to know who owns which guns and what transactions are taking place, just like they do for your cars. The evil gubmint is going to use this data in some manner that we're not quite sure of in order to systematically confiscat all guns and crete a dictatorship!!! Be afraid!!! Buy more guns right now!!! The UN's black helicopters will be here before you know it!!!"

    National registry of mental health data/diagnoses/treatment records, etc.: "No biggy. This information isn't insanely private or inherently sensitive. Clearly, law-abiding gun owners, manufacturers and retailers deserve to keep everything on the down-low, but we've gotta shine a spotlight on all the crazies, who gave up most of their rights when they decided to, you know, be all crazy. There's no such thing as a law-abiding crazy because crazy breaks the laws of nature...so there's nothing to fear about this at all. The beneficent gubmint couldn't possibly use such sensitive information against you, there's no risk to the patients should there be some security leak of all their personal mental health information and besides, the government would never do that to people."

    February 5, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. LibParrots

    OK, background checks, no big deal, already did that. Now, what are you going to do about your thugs and gangs of the inner cities that commit most murders with hadguns? Crickets as usual democrats? They standin up for the "cause"...the truf!

    February 5, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. maf

    Wow, Cantor in the news two straight days on two separate issues . . . me thinks he is looking to upgrade his position within the GOP. Couldn't hurt, but still won't help. President Obama has been speaking about Education and Social Issues for 5 YEARS now. The GOP just getting onboard????

    February 5, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess the NRA has learned a lot from their warped perspective on unions: they are now forcing gun clubs that accept their grants to make their members to join the NRA, as well as to pay fees for people from those clubs to enter shooting competitions. Those that refuse to join the NRA are summarily kicked out of the rod and gun clubs. The irony is interesting, to say the least. I wonder if that vet who killed the SEAL had his membership card with him?

    February 5, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    I wonder how Cantor feels about Rod and Gun Clubs that accept NRA grants making their members join the NRA or quit: the NRA has been making this a condition of accepting their money. I thought the Righties were against forcing people to join organizations against their will, so what does he have to say about this?

    February 5, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. NickAnast

    Lynda: "kudos to Cantor for seeing the need to stop private sales."

    Let's face it, what Cantor really saw was the polls showing that more than 90% of all Americans support background checks on all purchases, including gun shows and private transactions.

    February 5, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. nothing new here

    Why is this topic of universal background checks for guns even a debate? Come on.
    The average, legal American gets checked for everything these days. A person cannot even apply for a minimum-wage job without having to prove identity and approval to work in this country. A person has to have ID to drive, to buy alcohol and cigs, to vote, among so many other things. So why start hedging here?
    Either submit to a background check, or find another weapon of choice to protect your home with. It is only fair, considering what the rest of society has to deal with.
    Jeezzzz....

    February 5, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. nothing new here

    ThinkAgain

    Google LaPierre May 27, 1999 and watch the NRA emphatically state they want background checks for everyone, no exceptions, no loopholes.
    _________________
    The NRA is being pressured by the right-wing extremists, just like the GOP is dealing with now.
    The NRA use to be a great organization, when it was focused on other things besides politics.

    February 5, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "OK, background checks, no big deal, already did that. Now, what are you going to do about your thugs and gangs of the inner cities that commit most murders with hadguns? Crickets as usual democrats? They standin up for the "cause"...the truf!"

    Thank you for mocking ebonics to show your racism.

    February 5, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Interesting seeing how back in 1999 Pepe LePew (LaPierre) stated that it was a necessity, for everyone. No exceptions.
    It begs the question: WTH is wrong with these people?!
    @Lynda Minnesota
    A prejudice of mine that I need to overcome by not pointing fingers at others, yes?
    -------------------------------------------------
    My friend you warm my heart. You're a joy.

    February 5, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  17. Bill from GA

    To v_mag

    "There are so many ironies floating around ..."

    You missed one big irony:

    They want National records on mental health treatment (who can predict when a patient may go over the edge? Are they 'cured' enough to own a gun?), but no National records on gun ownership or purchases.

    February 5, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. Thomas

    Cantor , all talk for the media . The guy is a puppet , no real bone in his spine !
    Eric Ivan Cantor , the fruit loop from Virginia's rich military corporate elite , who's favorite battle charge was ," make Obama a one term President " Not to mention his contribution to the economic meltdown and his forgiveness to lending institutions who bilked BILLIONS from the government and home owners .

    If Cantor was a politician in China , he would have been executed and his kidneys would go to somebody who needs them !.

    All look see show !

    February 5, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. AK_steve

    How nice. He might supports something we are already suppose to be doing. Everyday the GOP never fails to impress me on how insensitive and uncaring they really are.

    February 5, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Thomas

    Cantor ,
    all talk for the media . The guy is a puppet , no real bone in his spine !
    Eric Ivan Cantor , the fruit loop from Virginia's rich military corporate elite , who's favorite battle charge was ," make Obama a one term President " Not to mention his contribution to the economic meltdown and his forgiveness to lending institutions who bilked BILLIONS from the government and home owners .
    All look see show !

    February 5, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Gregory M. Newbold

    Leadership requires someone to have a foward looking vision [in advance of a problem] and taking action to implement a PROACTIVE plan. It requires having the courage to face down opposition that may have broad backing and to use logic and irrefutable facts to persuade. Cantor chiming in on BACKGROUND CHECKS does not reflect "leadership".

    February 5, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    The Real Tom Paine

    I wonder how Cantor feels about Rod and Gun Clubs that accept NRA grants making their members join the NRA or quit: the NRA has been making this a condition of accepting their money.
    -------------–

    I'm not sure how Cantor feels (and yes, NickAnast I agree Cantor IS reading the polls) about Rod and Gun Clubs that accept NRA grants FORCING their members to join the NRA or quit, but I can tell you how my husband reacted: he did as was suggested and quit.

    February 5, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Canuck

    Increased funds to treat mental health would seem to be a great idea, unfortunately American politicians have demonstrated how much value they place on health care.

    February 5, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. nothing new here

    Show several forms of ID to vote for corrupt politicians, but don't ask to see ID for a gun purchase.
    Pass the plunger, please.

    February 5, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. lottie

    Keep an eye on Kantor he is reading the polls but I don't think he is very sincere. He will flip flop like the rest of his buddies. It amazes me how much power the NRA has. Republicans seem to want to be lead by people like Norquist and the NRA. Why don't they try thinking on their own. It is equally amazing the most democrats are one the same page this time around Their biggest problem has always been that they are to individualize and tend to think as individuals .

    February 5, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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