Tom Coburn: No deal on background checks if Democrats demand record-keeping of gun sales

Here’s the first hard evidence we’ve seen that the big meeting of the minds on guns that the media’s been touting might be overhyped. Plain and simple, says Coburn, if Democrats demand that records of private gun sales be kept, the compromise is dead.

But wait. Kept by who? By the seller, or by the federal government?

A Senate aide familiar with the process said Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace erred in the question he posed to Coburn. The aides said there is no discussion of allowing the federal government to keep any records of background checks or sales, something that is already illegal and would not change. What is being proposed is having the seller retain a record of a private sale, just as a dealer does now for a sale that happens at a licensed gun store, the aide said.

It’s true, Wallace does seem to think that the Democratic plan would involve the feds retaining records of gun sales. If that wasn’t being kicked around in negotiations, you’d expect Coburn to correct him — but he doesn’t. Does that mean Wallace is stating the Democratic position correctly, much to the chagrin of Schumer et al. who’d prefer to keep that quiet while negotiations are ongoing? Or is Coburn saying he opposes expanded record-keeping of any kind, whether by the feds or otherwise?

WaPo makes it sound like the records would be kept by a private entity, not by the government, but it’s uncertain which private entity that might be:

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…

Senators are considering whether to establish a new online portal where buyers and sellers could conduct the background check or to allow federally licensed gun retailers like Wal-Mart or Dick’s Sporting Goods to charge a small fee to conduct background checks for private dealers, aides said. A record of the sale then could be turned over to a licensed retailer, sent to the gun’s manufacturer or kept by the seller.

Hopefully Coburn will clarify today. Exit question: Assuming that they do reach a deal, what are the odds that it passes the House? I thought a bill on background checks would make it through simply because there’s such heavy polling support for expanding checks, but new Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte sounds lukewarm about that. He wants to improve the current background-check system, not expand it to private gun sales.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 08, 2022