Leahy stresses background checks

January 30, 2013

In his opening statement at the gun violence hearing, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, focused most of his remarks on bolstering background checks for all gun buyers -- an issue earning more bipartisan support by the day.

Leahy noted that he is a gun owner, and added: "I know gun store owners in Vermont. They follow the law and conduct background checks to block the conveyance of guns to those who should not have them. They wonder why others who sell guns do not have to follow these same protective rules. I agree with these responsible business owners. If we can all agree that criminals and those adjudicated as mentally ill should not buy firearms, why should we not try to plug the loopholes in the law that allow them to buy guns without background checks?"

Leahy said something similar in a recent interview with The Washington Post:

"I hear this from gun stores all the time back home in Vermont. There’s one gun store where I often go to buy my own ammunition," he said. "It's a very, very conservative, sort of a Republican and he (the owner) said, 'Why don't they close the gun show loophole? I have to pay taxes to the town where my gun shop is, and I have to pay taxes to the state of Vermont. I have to pay federal income tax. I have to fill out all the reporting requirements, which you know can be significant. These guys don't. Why shouldn’t they have to do the same things I have so at least we have a level playing field?' He raises a good point."

Leahy added in the interview that "I think the majority of people would agree that whatever the requirements are for buying a gun, they should be the same no matter where you buy it."

In that vein, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is leading conversations with moderate Democrats and Republicans about sponsoring legislation that would require background checks for all gun purchases, with limited exceptions.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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Philip Rucker · January 30, 2013