Thursday, June 10, 2021

Bill to expand background checks for gun purchases stalls, more on the overall politics of gun control than any policy

UPDATE, June 10: Sen. John Cornyn of Texas has dropped out of negotiations, reducing chances that there will be an agreement, Laura Litvan reports for Bloomberg.

"Senators said they are struggling to find a bipartisan agreement on expanding background checks for gun sales after weeks of talks, with many Republicans wary of backing new efforts to regulate firearms," Kristina Peterson reports for The Wall Street Journal. "A handful of Senate Democrats and Republicans have been working to strike a deal on an expansion of background checks that could garner the 60 votes needed for a bill to advance in the Senate. Lawmakers said they were taking a pragmatic approach, trying to reach a narrower agreement than the legislation that passed the House in March that would expand background checks to nearly all gun sales, aimed at flagging people with criminal or mental-health histories that disqualify them from gun ownership."

The discussions have centered on expanding background checks to all commercial sales. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced legislation in 2013 that would have mandated such, but the Senate voted it down in a close vote. Toomey told Peterson he was skeptical that nine other Republican votes could be found in the Senate for the new bill.

"The biggest sticking point isn’t a policy detail, but the contentious political nature of any legislation touching on gun restrictions, according to a person familiar with the discussions," Peterson reports. "Lawmakers said they were also discussing other gun-related legislation, including safe-storage measures and efforts to pass red-flag laws aimed at allowing courts to temporarily take guns from people deemed dangerous."

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