April 10, 2013
Ladd Everitt, (202) 701-7171,  leveritt@csgv.org  
Washington, DC-The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) applauds Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) for their efforts to negotiate a compromise version of the universal background check bill sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013. This morning €™s press conference on Capitol Hill, during which Senator Toomey declared, €œWhat matters to me is doing the right thing, € demonstrated that this amendment is a good faith effort aimed at enhancing public safety in the United States, rather than one that prioritizes a top rating from the National Rifle Association.

That said, CSGV is deeply concerned with several elements of the compromise. While the Manchin-Toomey amendment expands background checks on gun buyers, they are far from universal. The legislation regulates private sales of firearms at gun shows and through websites, but simultaneously permits such sales to go unchecked everywhere else. CSGV believes an unregulated gun sale made through a classified ad in a newspaper, on a street corner, or across a kitchen table is just as serious a threat to public safety as one arranged on armlist.com.

The compromise amendment also seems to weaken certain longstanding provisions enacted to curb illegal gun trafficking. Under this bill, for the first time, Americans would be permitted to buy handguns from licensed dealers outside their home state. This would make it difficult, if not impossible, to enforce licensing and/or registration laws for handgun purchasers in states like New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut. Furthermore, the bill would actually decrease the amount of time the FBI has to process background checks on firearm purchasers at gun shows, despite the fact that experience demonstrates not all background checks can be fully processed within 24-48 hours. We believe it is important to err on the side of public safety in instances where more time is needed to conduct a background check. And these instances are few in number-90% or more of background checks are completed in a matter of minutes.

Finally, it is becoming increasingly unclear why a €œcompromise € is even necessary on background checks. National polling shows that 91% of Americans support universal background checks without exemptions or loopholes. That support extends to even more politically conservative states. A March poll in Senator Toomey €™s own state of Pennsylvania, for example, found 88% support for truly universal background checks.

The American people deserve a vote on universal background checks. There is no need to water down this legislation and riddle it with loopholes and exemptions. We will reserve our full judgment until we can read a draft of the Manchin-Toomey amendment, but we see no reason why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could not, or should not, advance the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013 itself to the Senate floor for consideration, without €œcompromises € aimed at satisfying an increasingly marginalized special interest.

The  Coalition to Stop Gun Violence  seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.


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