[WATCH] Bipartisan Effort On Gun Background Checks May Finally Reach a Deal
In the wake of yet another mass shooting in America and after years of failed attempts to pass a firearms background check bill, two Senators from opposite sides of the aisle think they finally have a path to an agreement, or at least they have reached common ground on one key component of a deal.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) have been quietly negotiating a way to improve background check rules by making a small but vital tweak to the current law, which they say would close an unintended loophole that has led to preventable mass shootings.
House-passed legislation to require background checks on nearly all gun purchases has stalled in the Senate. But Murphy and Cornyn, who have been negotiating behind closed doors with little attention, believe they may have a formula that can attract broad support from both parties.
Specifically, they want to clarify who is required to register as a federal firearms licensee, or FFL, and therefore conduct FBI checks on a buyer before selling a gun. The Senators say an ambiguity in the law has enabled unlicensed sellers to transfer weapons to dangerous people who skirt the background check system.
Cornyn said in an interview that Congress always intended to require anybody “in the business of selling firearms” to register as a licensee, but that the lack of a clear definition in the statute is allowing some buyers and sellers to evade that rule.
Asked if he would be open to the bill with some changes, Cornyn said: "It's a moot issue from my perspective because we can just do this through the standing committees."
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The two men still disagree on other gun-related issues. While there’s room for a deal on licensing rules, a Cornyn aide said they were not close to an overall legislative deal that can pass the Senate. In many states, unlicensed individuals sell firearms without a background check in what is known as the “private-seller loophole.” These sales can occur at gun shows or over the internet, which lawmakers have tried to prevent by beefing up regulations for those types of sales.
Watch MSNBC’s coverage on the bipartisan gun measure, below.