A bi-partisan group of Senators are close to a deal on requiring background checks for most gun sales. A sticking point appears to be a requirement that records of gun sales be kept by dealers and individuals.
The talks, led by two Democrats and two Republicans, are expected to earn more GOP support in the coming days and likely enough to move the bill through the Senate, according to senior aides of both parties who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
"These negotiations are challenging, as you'd expect on an issue as complicated as guns," the chief negotiator, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), said in a statement Saturday. "But all of the senators involved are approaching this in good faith. We are all serious about wanting to get something done, and we are going to keep trying."
Resolution of whether to keep records of private sales is key to earning the support of one of the Republicans involved in the talks, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who has a solid A-rating from the influential National Rifle Association and could provide political cover for lawmakers of both parties who are wary of supporting the plan.
Coburn has declined to comment on the talks, saying recently that "I don't negotiate through the press."
Democrats say that keeping records of private sales is necessary to enforce any new law and because current federal law requires licensed firearm dealers to keep records. Records of private sales also would help law enforcement trace back the history of a gun used in a crime, according to Democratic aides. Republicans, however, believe that records of private sales could put an undue burden on gun owners or could be perceived by gun rights advocates as a precursor to a national gun registry.
The NRA is going to fight this, but listen to Chuck Schumer when he says "We are all serious about wanting to get something done..." This is all about "getting something done" whether it works or not. There are going to be just enough Republicans in the Senate and probably the House who want to "get something done" enough to vote for background checks.
At this point, there isn't much else from Obama's gun control agenda that could pass both houses. The magazine restrictions has a small chance in the Senate but none in the House. The assault weapons ban is a dead issue. There may be some tweaking of the national database with regard to the mentally ill, and better record keeping of criminals, but that's an easy sale.
For all the sound and fury, gun control, as envisioned by the president, isn't going anywhere.