Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is working with Democratic senators on a bill that would mandate background checks for all gun buyers, with some limited exceptions.
In an interview Friday with a Tulsa television station, Coburn said he is working with Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) on plans to keep weapons away from criminals and the mentally ill.
Coburn's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment, but other Senate aides familiar with the negotiations confirmed his involvement. If a deal involving Coburn pans out, his ruby-red Republican reputation would lend significantly to any bipartisan effort to draft gun-control legislation.
"I think there's lots of good things that can happen in terms of mental health screening and checks," Coburn told KRMG-TV Friday. "If you transfer your car, you have to have a license to transfer, it has to go through that. That's a responsibility of freedom. I have no problems with us making sure that we don't allow guns to get in the hands of either felons, or people who are a danger to themselves or other people. ... I'm willing to work with Manchin and Schumer on that, and going to."
Manchin, a moderate Democrat with an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, has also recruited his close friend, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), to help with the background check legislation. Kirk, who is much more moderate than Coburn and hails from a state suffering from urban gun violence, also plans to unveil legislation next week with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to make illegal gun trafficking a federal crime.
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