Thursday, March 07, 2013

Move for stronger background checks on gun sales snags on question of what to do with the records

"An effort by Democratic senators to get significant Republican support for expanding background checks of gun purchasers has hit snags, in another sign that firearm-control legislation is likely to focus on a handful of narrower measures that enjoy bipartisan support," Kristina Peterson reports for The Wall Street Journal.

"Even background checks for private firearm sales such as those at gun shows, an area thought to be ripe for consensus, are proving slippery," Peterson writes. "Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Charles Schumer of New York, both Democrats, and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois have spent weeks trying to reach a deal with GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, but they couldn't do so in time" for today's meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The impasse is over what to do with records of the checks, Peterson reports: "A Democratic aide said the lawmakers couldn't resolve whether to keep paper records of private gun sales. Democrats say the records would help law enforcement if a gun were used in a crime, while Republicans fear the records could be used to track law-abiding gun owners." Gun-rights advocates have voiced concern that the records could be the beginning of a national gun registry.

A January Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that nearly nine in 10 Americans support requiring background checks for sales at gun shows. Seven in 10 endorsed a federal database to track all firearm sales, 54 percent “strongly.” Among people in gun-owning households, more than half supported each measure. Ed O'Keefe and Sari Horwitz of the Post report that a poll done for Mayors Against Illegal Guns "found similar results in some of the nation’s most conservative states and congressional districts."

The Associated Press reports today that states with the most gun-control laws have the fewest gun-related deaths, according to a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using data from 2007 to 2010. It founds that states with the most laws had a 42 percent lower gun-death rate than states with the least number of laws.

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