Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is seen as a key player in passing a gun-reform bill, but his opposition to a federal gun database is preventing a deal on the issue of universal background checks.
Even though Coburn has an A rating from the National Rifle Association, Democrats viewed him as a likely ally on crafting a Senate gun bill when he suggested after the Sandy Hook tragedy that a compromise on background checks for gun-buyers could have bipartisan support.
With other Republican senators threatening a filibuster against a package of gun-control measures, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will need 60 votes to move the bill to the floor, including at least five Republicans.
Gun-control advocates say an endorsement by Coburn, who has been negotiating the issue with Democratic point-man Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, would bring as many as 15 to 20 Republican votes for a bill, The Huffington Post reported.
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“When we visited Republican offices to talk about it, a bunch of them have said, ‘We know Sen. Coburn is negotiating on this and we will wait to see what he does,’” Third Way’s Jim Kessler, a longtime gun-control advocate, told The Huffington Post
With the bill expected to be considered when Congress returns from its Easter recess next week, Coburn is sounding less likely that he will lead a GOP effort to pass the legislation.
Coburn said on Tuesday that Congress could figure out a way to block gun sales to criminals without infringing on Americans’ Second Amendment right to carry weapons.
“I don’t think it’s wrong for me not to want to sell my gun to a felon … and I don’t think I want to sell my gun to somebody that’s mentally impaired,” reported The Ada News, a local Oklahoma newspaper. But Coburn said he would vote against any measure allowing the federal government to keep track of who owns guns.
The Daily Ardmoreite, another local Oklahoma newspaper, quoted Coburn on Monday, saying: “We are not going to have a new gun-control law.”
Coburn’s office did not respond to calls from Newsmax.
Coburn’s unwillingness to endorse a background-check compromise has frustrated Democrats, who spent weeks negotiating legislative language with him.
Talks between Coburn and Schumer broke down in late March, but Schumer told The New York Daily News that their staffs are in communication over the issue and that the two senators will meet before they return to Washington from the Senate recess.
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