Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) announced his support for universal background checks, a key proposal in the Senate’s gun violence prevention package. After initially remaining vague about his position, Donnelly stressed the importance of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals or mentally incapacitated individuals:
“I am supportive of background checks,” Donnelly told local media after a business roundtable discussion at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. “I want to make sure that people with, say, a felony or dealing with mental illness cannot get their hands on weapons that can cause so much destruction. And so we’re trying to put together a piece of legislation that will reflect that.”
Asked whether he backs background checks at gun shows, Donnelly said, “Yes.”
According to a poll conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 89 percent of Indiana residents support background checks, which would keep criminals from circumventing the system through unregulated “private” sales. The state exports more than 3 times as many crime guns as it imports, and in 2008 it supplied the 8th highest number of crime guns to other states.
Universal background checks still face a rocky path through the Senate; Republicans are vowing to oppose it, and some have even threatened to filibuster the bill. Senate Democrats are still falling short of the filibuster-proof 60 votes needed to pass the measure; Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have yet to endorse the measure.