The Trump administration is assessing Senate Republican support for a proposal to expand gun-sale background checks.
So far, GOP Senators are being very cautious, reports The Hill.
The proposal is outlined in a memo titled “Idea for New Unlicensed-Commercial-Sale Background Checks.”
It calls for expanding background checks to all advertised commercial sales, including sales at guns shows, along the lines of legislation sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in 2013.
Toomey told reporters that the memo was drafted by Attorney General William Barr, not the White House.
“I have spoken with the attorney general. I think I have a pretty good idea of what he has in mind. I think it’s a very thoughtful, very constructive, very creative way to accomplish some important goals,” Toomey said, characterizing the proposal as “a work in progress.”
The tentative plan calls for all commercial gun sales to “produce two forms, a bill of sale that would record the details of the sale, and a certification from [the seller] that a successful background check has taken place,” says The Hill. “If someone who attempts to buy a firearm fails a background check, that would be reported to law enforcement officials.”
Sellers would be either federally licensed firearms dealers, or a new class of dealers, “licensed transfer agents.” Both would be authorized to conduct instant background checks by Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco.
“If the buyer passes the background check and purchases the firearm, the person who sells the gun would receive a copy of the form certifying that a successful background check was performed,” The Hill says, noting that the story was first reported by The Daily Caller, which published the memo on line.
Gun sellers would not maintain these records, “a provision intended to allay fears by Second Amendment-rights advocates that the proposal could lead to the creation of a federal firearms registry,” The Hill says.
President Trump has not yet endorsed the proposal, which accounts for some lawmakers’ reticence about it.
“My question to the attorney general … was what is the president going to support? What is the president going to put forward?” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) told reporters, adding that the memo consists of “some ideas that one could turn into a concrete proposal.”
Senate Democrats are wondering why they haven’t been given the chance to evaluate the memo.
“Not a single Democrat has seen this or signed off on it,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said, “and my understanding is the president hasn’t approved it either. It’s hard to know whether this is constructive or not.”