Reeeeeal curious to see what the vote on this looks like in the House. Expanded background checks is the one plank of Obama’s gun-control platform that draws extremely high support across parties. Here are the numbers from yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll, which are nothing out of the ordinary on this issue:
Pew found 85 percent support last month for mandating background checks “for private and gun show sales.” A week later, Gallup saw 91 percent support for background checks for “all gun sales.” Even Wayne LaPierre has been known to talk them up in the past, if not recently. Lots of political cover for Congress to make a move here, in other words. But will voting for any form of new gun regulations expose the average House Republican from a very red district to a primary challenge? If you believe the polling, it shouldn’t; even Republican voters like this idea. Then again, if you’re a GOP incumbent, why take the chance?
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN is told the legislation they are working on would effectively require background checks on private gun purchases made with non-licensed gun dealers, according to sources in both parties. That would include closing the so-called gun show loophole.
However, the sources emphasize they are trying to work through this sticky issue so that Republicans, especially Coburn, are comfortable that it would address privacy concerns of gun owners, and would have clear exemptions for situations where a background check should not be needed. The most common example of that scenario is a grandfather or uncle giving guns they already own to a grandson or nephew.
According to sources in both parties, they’re making “significant progress.” The AP offers a few more details, claiming that sales “in remote areas” and sales to gun buyers who’ve already been screened and approved for concealed carry might also be exempt from further checks. Maybe the real question here isn’t whether a majority of House Republicans will support it but whether Boehner’s willing to blow up the Hastert Rule yet again and try to pass the bill with a huge number of Democrats and a few dozen centrist Republicans to push them over the line to 218. The votes are surely there to make this happen given the polling; it’s a simple matter of whether Boehner feels as comfortable cutting his caucus loose on an issue as red-meat as gun control as he did on drier matters like the fiscal cliff and Sandy relief bill.
Here’s Coburn on “Meet the Press” two years ago, a few days after the Tucson shooting, making the case that regulation should focus not on the arms but on the man. Hence his support for expanded background checks now; “the whole goal is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals,” he said recently. Exit question: Now that Reid has something to show the Democratic base as proof of progress on gun control, does this mean he’ll drop Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban, which was never, ever, ever going to pass anyway?