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Sen. Ted Cruz: Gun show loophole ‘doesn’t exist’

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said Sunday that the “gun show loophole” doesn’t exist, pushing back against gun control advocates’ call for background checks in all guns sales.

“You know, there actually isn't the so-called ‘gun show loophole,’” Cruz, a gun-rights advocate, said on NBC News’s “Meet The Press." "That doesn't exist. Any licensed firearm dealer who sells at a gun show has to have a background check.  It's a requirement that applies to every licensed firearm dealer. What it doesn't apply to is personal sales one on one. And that's true whether it's at a gun show or not."

President Obama unveiled a sweeping slate of gun control proposals last week, including a call for Congress to pass a law requiring universal background checks for gun sales, including those between private citizens that don't involve licensed gun dealers, which are currently not subject to checks.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a leading gun control advocate, said on the same program that the proposal to require universal background checks “is the sweet spot in terms of actually making us safer and having a good chance of passing.”

Cruz disputed a study that suggested that about 40 percent of gun sales happen between private citizens and do not involve licensed gun dealers. He also repeated his view that Obama exploited the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school last month to push for new gun control measures.

When asked about a National Rifle Association ad that labeled Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for letting armed guards protect his own school-aged children while expressing skepticism about an NRA proposal to put armed guards in schools, Cruz, who is the recipient of an "A+" rating from the NRA, said, “Look, I'm going to let people decide to run what ads they want.”

Schumer pushed back against Cruz’s position on background checks, saying: “If you are someone who's not a felon, you go into a gun store, a registered firearm dealer, and buy 20 guns, which you can.  He'll do a background check on you. You can sell them to anyone you want, felon or anybody else.  So there are huge holes in this law.”

Speaking on ABC News's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," White House senior adviser David Plouffe said he was confident about the overall prospects of passing new gun control measures in Congress, but acknowledged the fight will be tough, and gun control advocates may not get everything they are pushing for.

"The president put forward a package," Plouffe said. "He's taken some actions on his own on things like mental health and background checks, but legislative proposals that he thinks will protect our kids, help with gun safety. We don't expect it all to pass or in its current form, but we think there's elements of this that are absolutely critical.  And I think there's going to be a big spotlight shone on this.  I think the American people are paying a lot of attention this debate."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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