McCain Seen as Key Senator in Expanding Background Checks

Image: McCain Seen as Key Senator in Expanding Background Checks

Monday, 25 Mar 2013 01:40 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Veteran Sen. John McCain is No. 1 on Democrats’ target list of Republicans who may support their move for universal background checks for gun buyers.

The Arizonan is seen as the most likely GOP member of the upper chamber to vote with the majority to support the move, reports The Hill newspaper.

But fellow Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada are also seen as crucial votes if the measure is to pass.

The move to target McCain and the others comes after talks with Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn broke down when he objected to the creation of a national registry of gun owners.

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois has reportedly indicated that he will support a proposal to expand background checks that he negotiated with Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The plan would make certain concessions to Republican opponents, including letting rural gun owners conduct background checks from their home computers.

McCain’s endorsement could persuade Heller to vote for the legislation, said the publication, because he has a solid B-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. Collins has a C-plus rating, while Kirk, also a Republican, has an F.

According to The Hill, Manchin, who has an A rating from the NRA, said he is “talking to everybody” in a bid to win over Republican senators on the issue of background checks, a key element in President Barack Obama’s proposals for gun reform.

“We’ve had discussions about the issue,” McCain told the publication, adding, “I never describe my discussions with other senators.”

Requiring private sellers to maintain records, something vehemently opposed by the NRA’s leadership, could prove to be a sticking point.

Heller said he shared that concern “because you have to keep those records from 15 to 20 years and even proponents of the legislation say they would subject law-abiding citizens to stings by the ATF,” he told The Hill, referring to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

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