WASHINGTON — Two pivotal senators have announced a bipartisan deal on expanding background checks to more gun buyers. The agreement could build support for President Barack Obama's drive to curb firearms violence.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania said their agreement would help keep firearms from criminals and the mentally ill.
The checks would now apply to commercial sales, such as transactions at gun shows and online. The sales would have to be channeled through licensed firearms dealers, who would have to keep records of the transactions.
In a statement released this morning, Toomey said, “Pennsylvania has a long, bipartisan tradition of supporting gun rights. I am a proud part of that tradition. I am a gun owner. I revere the rights enshrined in our Second Amendment. My record shows this.
“Criminal background checks are just common sense. If you pass a criminal background check, you can buy a gun. It’s the people who fail a criminal or mental health background check that we don’t want having guns.
“That can be done without infringing on law-abiding people’s gun rights. And we ought to do it.”
Manchin said that since the slayings of school children and educators in Newtown, Conn., both sides in the gun debate must find common ground.