Skip to main content

Leading Senate talks falling short of universal background checks

By Dana Bash, CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent
updated 6:23 AM EDT, Tue April 9, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bipartisan effort is weighing different gun control proposals; debate possible this week
  • President Obama, many Democrats favor expanding FBI background checks to all sales
  • But focus of leading Senate talks, at the moment, would expand checks, but not universally
  • NEW: Obama chides Congress for not passing gun legislation; Newtown families lobbying

Washington (CNN) -- The leading Senate negotiations on gun control legislation favor expanding background checks, but the effort would as of now fall short of the universal approach backed by President Barack Obama and many Democrats, CNN has learned.

FBI background checks are currently required for commercial sales. The proposal being considered would expand them to gun shows and Internet sales, but would not require checks for other private transactions, according to multiple sources from both parties who are familiar with the talks.

Sources familiar with the negotiations between Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, tell CNN they exchanged proposals and ideas over the past few days and will soon get a better sense of where things stand.

Obama: As a society, we must change
Sen.: Background checks 'common ground'
Manufacturers impacted by new gun laws
Background checks 'kneejerk reaction'?

Toomey joins talks on background checks

Obama made another pitch for his gun control agenda on Monday in Connecticut, not far from the town of Newtown where a December school massacre jolted the nation and prompted current efforts in Washington for stricter gun laws.

Obama, in Hartford, angrily chided lawmakers, saying overwhelming support among the American people for measures like universal background checks should force action in Congress.

His message was crafted as much for lawmakers as it was for the families of Newtown victims. They sat behind him on stage and were to travel to Washington with him on Air Force One to lobby members of Congress.

"Newtown, we want you to know that we're here with you," Obama said. "We will not walk away from the promises we've made. We are as determined as ever to do what must be done. "

The Senate is expected to begin debate as early as this week over proposed firearms legislation, but Democratic sources admit that the gun bill as currently written does not have the 60 votes needed to break any Republican filibuster.

The powerful National Rifle Association is staunchly opposed to the measure.

Putting new pressure on negotiators, a spokesman for Mitch McConnell said the Senate Republican leader would support efforts by GOP colleagues to filibuster the Democratic legislation.

Democratic leaders are hopeful that a deal on background checks that can win enough Republican support will emerge from the bipartisan negotiations.

Obama scolds lawmakers on gun control

Sandy Hook families to return to DC with Obama, lobby Senate

The working proposal between Manchin and Toomey would require background checks as well as make sellers keep a record of transactions.

Many law enforcement groups and gun control advocates view record keeping as critical to ensuring the check is enforceable and a weapon is traceable in case of a crime.

Senior Democratic aides and sources from outside groups pushing for tighter gun restrictions acknowledge that this approach is less expansive than what they want.

But they believe it would produce a better result than the other prominent negotiating track underway - requiring background checks in virtually all cases of private sales, but not mandating that records of those sales and checks be saved.

Recent polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans favor making a change to the background check system.

McCain: 'I don't understand' threats to block gun bill debate

Poll: Could background checks lead to gun confiscation?

Deal on background checks still possible

CNN's Ted Barrett, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords co-authors a piece discussing the lethal mix of domestic violence and guns.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Gun rights and gun control advocates largely agree there should be restrictions on mentally ill people obtaining firearms.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law that has critics howling and proponents applauding.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Thu June 13, 2013
Six months after a gunman burst into an elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and killed six others, promises of stricter national gun control laws remain largely unfulfilled.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Next time there's a mass shooting, don't jump to blame the NRA and lax gun laws. Look first at the shooter and the mental health services he did or didn't get.
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
The sign at the door of the Colt factory displays a gun with a slash through it. Makes sense for workers at a plant, ironic considering one of the largest arsenals in America lies just beyond.
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Much attention has been paid to the defeat in Congress of proposals to ban assault weapons and expand background checks for firearm purchases.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Sat June 29, 2013
Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" gives an in-depth look at the issue of firearms -- as viewed from behind the counter of a gun store.
updated 1:28 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
The Supreme Court continued its recent hands-off approach on gun control, refusing to accept a challenge to New Jersey's restrictions on carrying weapons in public.
updated 11:02 AM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013
The Senate defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
updated 8:03 PM EDT, Thu April 11, 2013
As Congress grapples with major gun control legislation proposals, families write about the people they loved and lost to gun violence and how it changed their lives.
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Thu April 11, 2013
Hear from both sides of the gun debate as opinions clash.
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
It was a bit awkward the first time Kate Daggett asked the question.
updated 9:41 AM EDT, Wed April 10, 2013
Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
updated 3:35 PM EDT, Thu April 4, 2013
Still stinging from the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
It took fewer than five minutes for Adam Lanza to squeeze off 154 rounds, upending life in Newtown, Connecticut, and triggering a renewed national debate over gun control.
Who should get them? Join the gun control debate and share your perspective on CNN iReport.
updated 11:24 AM EDT, Tue April 2, 2013
Before having children, she was a firm believer that guns were dangerous. Now this mother of three has a different perspective.
updated 6:54 PM EDT, Tue March 19, 2013
In the biggest fight over firearms since December's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun-control advocates are poised to notch a victory in an unlikely place.
A former drug addict turned anti-violence crusader, and a man who lost his father in a temple shooting. These are just two of many in the conversation.
updated 1:22 PM EST, Fri February 1, 2013
At a town hall that brought all sides of the gun debate together, was there a consensus? Sort of.
updated 10:51 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
The federal background check system for gun buyers didn't stop a mentally ill man from buying a gun, which he used to kill his mother.
updated 7:37 PM EST, Thu January 31, 2013
In disputes over the future of gun laws, people espousing different positions often literally don't understand each other.
ADVERTISEMENT