Senators are considering whether to establish a new online portal where buyers and sellers could conduct the background check or to allow federally licensed gun retailers like Wal-Mart or Dick’s Sporting Goods to charge a small fee to conduct background checks for private dealers, aides said. A record of the sale then could be turned over to a licensed retailer, sent to the gun’s manufacturer or kept by the seller.
The background check proposal is considered the most politically viable plan among several introduced in the weeks since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Schumer is facing pressure from the White House and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) to draft a bill by this week in time for the committee to consider as early as Thursday, when the panel is scheduled to meet to review bills.
Aides expect that the committee will not pass a comprehensive bill, but instead will refer individual proposals to the full Senate. In addition to the background check bill, aides expect the panel to approve a bill that would make gun trafficking a federal crime for the first time. Less certain is the fate of bills limiting the size of ammunition magazines and a ban of military-style assault weapons; those measures face opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.
During a town-hall meeting in Arizona last week, McCain bluntly told the mother of a victim of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting that the assault weapons ban will not pass in the House or Senate “because a majority of members of Congress don’t support it.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans are beginning work on gun legislation even though GOP leaders have said the House would not touch the issue until after the Senate acted.
“We’re obviously interested in what the Senate does, but we are hard at work on this issue right now, studying information available,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in an interview with C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program airing Sunday
that included questions from a Washington Post reporter.
Goodlatte added that any discussion of new gun laws should come only if the Obama administration steps up enforcement of current laws.
“There are laws on the books right now that prohibit the illegal sale of firearms to people who shouldn’t be buying them, people who shouldn’t be selling them, and they’re just not being enforced as well as they could be,” Goodlatte told C-SPAN. “It would save a lot of lives if they were.”
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