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Senators near a deal on background checks

Feb. 24, 2013 at 9:49 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is closing in on a deal requiring background checks for all private firearms sales with limited exemptions, officials said.

If the group, led by two Democrats and two Republicans, comes to an agreement, it would be the first step toward consideration of legislation to limit gun violence in the wake of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., the Washington Post reported Saturday.

"These negotiations are challenging, as you'd expect on an issue as complicated as guns," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Saturday. "But all of the senators involved are approaching this in good faith. We are all serious about wanting to get something done, and we are going to keep trying."

Lawmakers have yet to come to an agreement about keeping records of private gun sales, aides familiar with the talks told the Post.

Democrats argue that keeping records of private sales is needed to enforce any new law and because current federal law requires licensed firearm dealers to keep records. Republicans, however, maintain that records of private sales could put an undue burden on gun owners or could be seen by gun rights advocates as an precursor to a national gun registry.

Senators are considering the creation of an online portal that would allow buyers and sellers to conduct background checks or to allow federally licensed gun retailers, such as Wal-Mart or Dick's Sporting Goods, to charge a small fee to do background checks for private dealers, aides said.

"There are laws on the books right now that prohibit the illegal sale of firearms to people who shouldn't be buying them, people who shouldn't be selling them, and they're just not being enforced as well as they could be," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told C-SPAN. "It would save a lot of lives if they were."

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