Here's facts for anyone that has hope in elections or anyone doing the right thing in DC!
A bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal to expand gun background checks to all commercial sales — whether at gun shows, via the Internet or in any circumstance involving paid advertising, according to Senate aides familiar with the talks.
The amendment to the guns legislation already proposed in the Senate would not cover private transactions between individuals, unless there was advertising or an online service involved.
The agreement forged by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) would be more stringent than current law, which requires checks only when purchases are made through a licensed dealer, but less strict than the requirements originally sought by President Obama and congressional Democrats, who were seeking to expand background checks to nearly every kind of sale.
In announcing their plan Wednesday morning, Manchin and Toomey invoked December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 schoolchildren and six educators dead.
“This amendment . . . will not ease the pain of the families who lost their children on that horrible day,” Manchin said at a packed news conference. “But nobody — not one of us in this great Capitol of ours — with a good conscience could sit by and not try to prevent another day like that from happening again.”
The National Rifle Association, the powerful lobbying group that is the leading force against tightening gun laws, said expanding background checks “will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe.”
The NRA’s statement called for a “serious and meaningful solution” to gun violence and asked the White House to move forward to combat gang and criminal activity that are “tormenting honest people.”
Under the terms of the Manchin-Toomey deal, all background checks would be conducted by federally licensed gun dealers, who would need to verify the validity of a purchaser’s gun license and record that a check was performed. Background checks would need to be completed within three days, except at gun shows, where they would have to be completed within two days for the next four years, and then within 24 hours. To avoid processing delays, the FBI would be required to complete background checks requested at gun shows before those requested elsewhere.
In a key concession to Manchin, the agreement establishes a bipartisan commission to study incidents of mass violence and present Congress with potential legislation to address such incidents. The panel would bring together experts from the fields of mental health and school safety and representatives of the firearms and entertainment industries. Any proposals presented by the commission would be submitted for an up-or-down vote in Congress — a process similar to that used by the 2011 fiscal supercommittee that failed to reach an accord on budgetary matters.
“We have a culture of violence, and we have a whole generation that has basically been desensitized,” Manchin said. “We’ve got to find out how we can change and reverse that.”
A precise list of which transactions would be covered by the background-check deal was not immediately available. One person familiar with the discussions said the proposed legislation would likely require background checks on all advertised transactions, including those posted on Internet sale sites. It was unlikely, the person said, that sales conducted through an individual, private e-mail exchange would be governed by the new deal. But, he added, it is impossible to say with certainty until legislative language is announced.
The Senate has scheduled a vote for Thursday on a “motion to proceed,” which would officially start the debate over the most wide-ranging and ambitious gun-control legislation in 20 years. Democrats seem to have assembled the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
The deal between Manchin and Toomey follows weeks of negotiations as Senate Democrats, along with Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, made an effort to win the support of enough Republicans to blunt a filibuster threat. It is expected to secure enough bipartisan support to allow the Senate to launch debate on an overarching guns bill that would expand background checks, make gun trafficking a federal crime for the first time and bolster federal funding for school security plans.
Like Manchin, Toomey has been highly rated by the NRA in the past, but he is a new player in the months-long negotiations over gun legislation. He said he decided to engage with his colleagues on the topic when he realized that a gun bill was headed to the Senate floor.
“I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control; I think it’s just common sense,” he told reporters. “It’s the people who fail criminal and mental-health background checks that we don’t want having guns.”
After reviewing the details of their agreement, Toomey said: “I will tell you categorically that nothing in our amendment prevents the ownership of guns by any lawful person — and I wouldn’t support it if it did.”
Arkadi Guerney, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, which has been advocating for tighter background checks, called the agreement on background checks “a huge step forward” that “will make it harder for criminals to get guns without any questions being asked.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a longtime advocate of gun control, negotiated throughout much of March with Sen. Tom Coburn (R- Okla.), who has a top rating from the NRA, in hopes of moving the guns legislation forward. But the pair could not find agreement on how to keep records of background checks on potential gun buyers.
Coburn and top officials at the NRA worried that such records would lead to a kind of national registry of gun owners. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, has said that such information could be used by the Obama administration to confiscate guns — a claim that supporters of the record-keeping vehemently deny.
Under the Manchin-Toomey deal, records of the newly covered transactions would be kept by federally licensed arms dealers, according to a person familiar with the agreement. Currently, licensed arms dealers keep records of gun sales that take place in gun stores.
The deal also permits licensed gun dealers to perform background checks on prospective employees and would grant licensed dealers legal immunity from lawsuits if the weapon is subsequently used in a crime, said the aides. Dealers would be permitted to travel across state lines to sell weapons at gun shows, as long as the dealers abide by applicable state gun laws.
Members of the military would be permitted to purchase firearms in their home states and anywhere they are based, said the aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly about details of the agreement.
Schumer called key players in the gun debate Wednesday morning, including New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), to inform them of the details.
Groups pushing for stricter gun laws praised the bipartisan agreement, while acknowledging that it didn’t yield everything they hoped for.
“This bill will not only help keep guns out of the wrong hands — it will help save lives and keep our communities safe,” said a statement from Bloomberg on behalf of his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Bloomberg said his group, which includes more than 900 mayors nationwide, would strongly support the plan and help secure more support.
Pia Carusone, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions — founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, Mark Kelly — said their group “will do everything in our power to ensure that Americans know about the determined leadership of Senator Manchin, a conservative Democrat, and Senator Toomey, a conservative Republican.” The group also plans to campaign against senators who might block consideration of the gun legislation, Carusone said.
The Obama administration has lobbied hard for increased background checks on potential gun buyers and for new limits on assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The measures are heavily opposed by the NRA and its Capitol Hill allies in both parties.
The Democratic-led Senate is expected to reject Obama’s proposals to ban military-style assault rifles and to limit the size of high-capacity magazines.In an ominous sign for the president, at least two Democratic senators — Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Max Baucus (Mont.) — have said they are unsure whether they can support his legislative goals.
Senators from both parties are likely to introduce numerous amendments to the guns bill. Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Wednesday that they would introduce changes to the underlying bill’s provisions regarding gun trafficking, to provide legal protections for people legally purchasing weapons to give as gifts or as raffle or contest prizes.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) also unveiled a bill Wednesday that would bolster security for federal judges and prosecutors in response to the recent shooting deaths of Texas prosecutors. Cornyn aides said he might eventually introduce the plan as an amendment to the gun bill.
Other potential amendments include a plan from Coburn to establish an online portal for background checks and another, sponsored by dozens of senators, that would provide more federal funding for mental-health programs assisting veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There also probably will be amendments backed by the NRA, designed to make the bill less onerous for gun owners and buyers.
Any bill would need only a majority of votes to pass. After that, it would go to the GOP-led House, where another long deliberative process could begin.
David A. Fahrenthold, Aaron Blake and Scott Wilson contributed to this report.