Deal on background checks still possible
April 3rd, 2013
05:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Deal on background checks still possible

Washington (CNN) - Senate negotiators have not given up hope that bipartisan compromise is possible on the issue of background checks for guns, according to sources familiar with the talks, despite not yet finding common ground on the divide over how to handle records from those checks.

Central to the talks is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, a pro-gun Republican with a 100% rating from the National Rifle Association. Coburn is on board with the idea of conducting background checks to prevent convicted felons and the mentally impaired from purchasing guns. But he is vehemently opposed to any legislation allowing the federal government to keep track of who owns guns.

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Most gun control advocates, however, argue that some record of a background check must be kept in order to enforce the check and trace the purchase of the gun in case it is used in a crime.

Sources close to the talks say Coburn spoke last week to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the chief Senate negotiator on the issue, and say aides to the two men are talking.

The Senate is currently on schedule to begin voting on gun control measures as soon as next week when Congress returns from spring break, but Democratic sources admit the gun bill as currently written does not have the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. This bill written by Democrats includes a background check that requires gun sellers to keep a record of the background check as part of the sale.

Democratic leadership sources say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would delay votes until the following week if there is a bipartisan agreement on background checks.

Coburn has been seen as a lynchpin on this issue, since his credentials as a conservative gun owner would give political cover not just to Republicans, but to the handful of conservative Democrats who are reluctant to support new gun control measures, including background checks.

Democratic sources also say that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, another staunch supporter of gun rights, is working on a separate track with unnamed Republicans to cut a deal on the background check issue.

When it comes to Coburn and Schumer's talks, sources familiar with the specifics tell CNN that what Coburn has proposed is something he calls a "portal" for background checks outside gun stores – like gun shows and other private sales.

The way the "portal" would work is that a gun buyer would go to a website, fill out personal information and, if that buyer has no criminal record or history of mental illness, would get a green light to buy a gun. The buyer would print out that approval and bring it to the gun show, or wherever the private sale is conducted.

To set up the portal system, it would cost federal dollars and would mean using a government system to maintain.

Still, sources say Democratic gun control advocates could find a way to support this Coburn idea.

The biggest problem – according to sources on both sides of the issue – is what to do about records from these checks.

Coburn does not want to require the seller in a private transaction to keep a record of the background check. Gun control advocates argue there must be a way to keep a paper record of the private sale – just like licensed gun dealers do – in order to enforce the background check and trace the gun sale if it's used in a crime.

CNN is told that Schumer had proposed the idea of asking a third party – perhaps gun manufacturers – to hold onto the background check records, but Coburn refused.

According to sources on both sides, no one is advocating a central registry of the background check.

Currently, federal law requires the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to destroy records of requests for background checks within 24 hours.

In town hall meetings in his home state of Oklahoma, Coburn has expressed cautious optimism about finding common ground on this thorny issue.

According to a report from the Ada News in Oklahoma, Coburn told constituents he hopes there is a system "where it's easy for me as a gun owner to know I'm not selling my gun to a felon or somebody that's mentally impaired with no records kept, I have no problem with trying to do that. And that's what I've been trying to do for the last three months."

Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. SpencerRifle

    I don't for a second believe that 90% of americans support what's described as a universal background check. I doubt 90% of americans can agree on if the world is round or not. But let's assume the actual number is more than 50%. How many people still support a background check on all firearm transfers if the government keeps a record of it? A federal registry of gun owners is expressly prohibited by law. I actually support background checks to keep the insane & felons from buying guns. But I do not support any permanent record kept by the government on private transfers & have urged my congressmen to oppose any legislation that includes a record. And there's the quandary. If someone can come up with a way to enforce background checks without a record being kept please get back to me. I'd like to hear about it.

    April 3, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Bob

    You have to register your vehicle in order to drive it. If you sell a car to another person, you have to notify the DMV or get in trouble. If a car you own and is registered is used in a crime, you are liable unless you report it to the police or can prove in court it was really stolen and not just a straw purchase. To drive a car, you need training and testing. To drive bigger (more dangerous) vehicles, you need special licenses. Why should owning a gun (whose primary function is to kill) be LESS restrictive than owning and operating a vehicle? And before some NRA shill says "but cars kill more people than guns"- we have 100 times (at least) as many cars in this country as guns yet the number one cause of death in this country for people under 26 is guns (not car accidents). If law-abiding citizens (the only people who should have guns) want to own and use a gun, that's great. But then they should first be law abiding citizens. That means proving they are law abiding citizens and promising they won't give the gun to someone who shouldn't have a gun. And if someone allows their gun to get into the hands of a nut job like Adam Lanza, they should be held responsible. It's no different than if you let your underage son use you car and he hits a bunch of kids crossing the street. You will be held financially and criminally (partially) responsible. Heck, we should make gun owners carry "gun insurance". We know such requirements are constitutional thanks to Bush-appointed Justice Roberts.

    April 3, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Bob

    SpencerRifle: Of course you don't believe it. People like you ignore facts. You use the internet the way a drunk misuses a lamppost- for support instead of enlightenment.

    April 3, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. Bob

    The government insists of training and records when a car is operated or transferred ownership. Failure to do so results in fines and jail time (if severe enough). Why should owning something whose primary function is to kill be less restrictive?

    April 3, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  5. Andrew

    What is wrong with keeping tract on who own guns? Why do you need a gun other then for sports? What do you have to hide? Why do I have to stop at a stop sign, maybe because it's the law and I may kill someone?
    What is the differance?

    April 3, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "But he is vehemently opposed to any legislation allowing the federal government to keep track of who owns guns."

    Without it, this whole exercise is pointless...which is exactly why they oppose it. They have no anger or fear towards registerig their home ownership (property ownership also being constitutionally protected right) or their car or whatever and having records kept of transactions involving the same, but when it comes to their surrogate penises, they throw a hissy and demagogue it as an attempt to "castrate" everyone by taking away said surrogate penises. It's nonsense. What it really is, is that the NRA and its manufacturer/retailer puppetmasters prey and rely upon the fearful, weakminded and angry...people who are very likely to believe their demagoguery about sucha system and who would be predisposed to have their own conspiracy-like fears about it anyway. They rely on those people for gun sales...and those people might suddenly be afraid to purchase lots of guns if a registry was in place, despite there being no ratioanl reason for said fears. It's that simple.

    April 3, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    The NRA and its manufacturer/retailer puppetmasters prey upon fear and resentment and the portion of the population predisposed to fall for conspiracy-type demagoguery. Those people are a faithful gun purchasing market. Despite them having no problem with systems for registering your land or your car and all transactions invovled therewith, they've been acculturated to believe the manufactured conspiracy theories and other demagoguery from the NRA...and that big fat fear cake has been iced with a thick layer of ideation about becoming a freedom-fighter underdog overcoming the oppressive gubmint to save the world. Those people, if a registry were implemented, would be likely to not buy as many guns because they've been taught to fear it. THAT is why the NRA and its owners don't want a registry: because it might discourage stockpiling by their most faithful customers.

    April 3, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  8. James

    Why don't Obama, Scott Pelli and Piers Morgan go to the White House and solve everyone's problem. Background checks are a waste of time. Garbage in and garbage out on a computer. The US Constitution trumps all that reterick anyway–Of course the are always Executive Oeders–

    April 3, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  9. rs

    90% of America has said they support full, thorough background checks for all firearm transactions. This is a no-brainer and should be done.

    April 3, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. rs


    If the government (or private firms for that matter) want to see what you own, it is already way too easy. Stores (especially chains) keep track of all your purchases. Banks have all your financial transactions. That stuff is already recorded and ready for access. Shoot- traffic cameras probably have you photographed pretty much everywhere you go, nevermind store security cameras. Unless you live in a tent somewhere you leave a trail. Face it the gun registry foolishness is just that.

    Question: You have to register your car (or truck) ; the county, city or town know about your house. Has anyone ever taken those from you?

    Thought not, and if they do, it won't be because they're registered.

    What about your guns (if you have any)? Fill out those warranty cards? You think the manufacturer doesn't keep those? Oh, my what could happen there? Ever have your gun repaired? What about those records?

    Its way too late....

    April 3, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Crystal

    I thought that the receipt of the gun purchase would serve as a record of any gun purchased. If i'm wrong this point is kind of whatever, but it seems redundant from a database design and normalization standpoint to have redundancy.

    April 3, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  12. Wes

    I say use the same laws as in Chicago. Gun violence is at or near zero.

    April 3, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein

    I think that there needs to be some greater background check for those wishing to purchace or transfer firearms from one person or dealer to another. There also needs to be a lower threshold for prosecuting firearms violations so that anyone caught with a weapon and can't provide proof that they are legitimately allowed to have it can charged. We need to have those charges stick.

    April 3, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear spencer Rifle.
    So in the interests of your desire to have as an individual the right to bear arms you see the only solution as having a registry leaving a huge loophole for criminals and others to walk through.... but as an example are perfectly happy to be forced to have a driving license trackable and traceable to you federally for something that is not designed to kill ( but does by accident or misdeed ( drunks/druggies) but not rquired to have a gun license... which for me in no real way impinges on your INDIVIDUAL Constitutional right to gun.
    If it does explain why in words of one syllable to this simpleton. Please dont use cant afford the license fee as a reason since if you can't afford that you aint got the several hundred dollars a gun plus ammo costs.

    April 4, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  15. GI Joe

    100% of the people I know want gov't out of people's bedrooms, but that ain't happening either.

    April 4, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  16. 82ndABNVET

    @ SpencerRifle

    I agree. It would be a miracle if Americans can get more than 70% approval for any one thing asked, let alone 90%. The President was elected with a popular vote of 52%. That basically proves that the so called model used by the polling entity is flawed in favor of more democrats.

    I do support background checks on all purchases/transfers, except maybe handing down from father to son or something along those lines. Does my wife need to have a background check before she shoots my shotgun or AR? Do I need one before I shoot her glock? Where does it end?

    I am adamatly apposed to keeping a federal level gun registry in any form. As stated in the article the NICS system is required to destroy records of the checks within 24hrs. That is basically how any increase in background check legislation should work. Registry just leads to requiring insurance and making someone pay yearly property taxes. It is also an easy way for the Government to swing by my house and take everything I have, most likely without due cause and without some sort of judicial decree.

    If we are trying to keep guns out of the hands of those that would do harm, we need to beef up the mental health records being submitted to NICS, and actually put away thugs, drug dealers, rapists, murderers, and the like instead of giving them a slap on the wrist or letting them out early for "good behavior".

    Limiting magazines to 10 rounds or less will do almost nothing at all. A person can carry multiple magazines. And if you say well, it will take them a long time to load a new magazine.................... I tell you that you are wrong. Anyone that has handled a gun a few times can get to the point where they can put a new magazine in in less than 5 seconds. Its amazing what you can actually do in that amount of time.

    And AR-15's are not DEADLY, well as DEADLY as the media would have you believe. There are far more DEADLY weapons out there, that arent being talked about. 12ga shotguns (that the VP touts), .50BMG sniper rifles, .50AE Desert Eagles, .44MAG revolvers, and 10MM Glocks are just a few. All of those can take down an elephant. An AR-15 chambered in .223/5.56mm, however are lucky to take down an adult human with one shot, but more likely 2-5 rounds are needed. It is little more than a faster .22lr bullet, which are used for small game such as squirell. There is a reason why the Special Ops folks have looked into more powerful rounds such as the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel as they are more capable of taking down an insurgent with fewer rounds.

    And, check the FBI stats for homicide rates by weapon type per year. Its pretty easy to google. Rifles (which includes more than just AR-15's, like hunting rifles and .22lr plinkers) account for roughly 4% of all gun related homicides. Pistols account for over 70%. Heck, of all homicides, knives account for more homicides per year than rifles. But, you dont see anyone trying to ban knives. Nor do you see them trying to ban tire irons or bats. All of which account for more deaths per year than rifles.

    What are the gang members using to kill innocent kids in Chicago? The vast majority are pistols. But, no one wants to talk about the majority black males belonging to gangs that take many more innocent lives per year than Columbine, Auroa, Newtown all combined.

    April 4, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |