Key Democratic Senator Backs Universal Background Checks, And Indicates A Bipartisan Bill Is In The Works

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), once thought to be a possible roadblock to some of President Obama’s proposed gun control measures, told a West Virginia talk show host Thursday morning that he supports legislation requiring a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun.

Manchin has long been a darling of the National Rifle Association, and has consistently earned A ratings from the organization since he assumed his Senate seat in 2010. In December, days after the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, Manchin signaled an openness towards rethinking his past resistance to new gun control regulation, but his comments to radio host Hoppy Kercheval on Thursday suggest that the blue dog Democrat is already working on a bill to introduce universal background checks:

KERCHEVAL : Do you think there should be universal background checks on anybody who wants to buy a gun? Right now it’s done only through federally licensed firearms dealers.

MANCHIN: I’m working on a bill right now with other Senators — Democrats and Republicans — we’re trying to get it, and looking at a background check that basically says that if you’re going to be a gun owner, you should be able to pass a background check, to be able to get that. With exceptions. The exceptions are: Families, immediate family members, some sporting events that you’re going to — that if you’re just going to be using them at the sporting events. So we’re looking and talking to people with expertise. I’m working with the NRA, to be honest with you, and talking to them.

Recent polling has shown that more than nine in ten Americans are in favor of universal background checks, but the NRA has thus far refused to lift its opposition to any substantial new regulations on gun ownership. But Manchin is now the second Democrat to reveal that the NRA has been party to ongoing negotiations over background checks.

Presently, as many as 40 percent of all guns sales are done with no background checks at all.

(HT Greg Sargent)