Leah Barkoukis

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin(D-WV) have reached a deal on expanding background checks. Firearms purchases at guns shows, on the internet or “any circumstance involving paid advertising” would be subject to background checks but there would be important exemptions, such as temporary transfers and between close relatives.  

“Under the terms of the Manchin-Toomey deal all background checks would be conducted by federally licensed gun firearm dealers, who would need to verify the validity of a purchaser’s gun license and record that a check was performed. Background checks would need to be completed within three days, except at gun shows, where they would have to be completed within two days for the next four years, and then within 24 hours. In order to avoid processing delays, the FBI would be required to complete background checks requested at gun shows before those requested elsewhere. […]

A precise list of which transactions would be covered by the background check deal was not immediately available. One person familiar with the discussions said the proposed legislation would likely require background checks on all advertised transactions, including those posted on Internet sale sites. It was unlikely, the person said, that sales conducted through an individual, private email exchange would be governed by the new deal. But, he added, it is impossible to say with certainty until legislative language is announced.

Although the press release issued by Manchin and Toomey explicitly states that the bill will not create a national registry and makes it illegal to establish one, Guns Saving Lives points out an important detail. “If transfers are done through a federally licensed firearms dealer there WILL be a form 4473 for every single transaction. These forms must be turned over to the government whenever a dealer changes owners or closes its doors. The ATF can also inspect these forms almost at will. This will create a de facto gun registry through the records that will be generated.” Top NRA officials and gun-rights advocates have long feared that expanded background checks will lead to a registry--and possibly confiscation.

“I don’t consider criminal background checks to be gun control, I think it’s just common sense, Toomey said. “It’s the people who fail criminal and mental health background checks that we don’t want having guns.”

The NRA issued a statement criticizing the Manchin-Toomey deal, saying that background checks wouldn’t have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson, and won’t stop the next:

Fairfax, Va. - Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools. While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg's "universal" background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows. The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson. We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies, while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone. President Obama should be as committed to dealing with the gang problem that is tormenting honest people in his hometown as he is to blaming law-abiding gun owners for the acts of psychopathic murderers.

The Senate has scheduled a vote for Thursday and, according to the Washington Post, it looks like Democrats have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. 


Leah Barkoukis

Leah Barkoukis is the Managing Editor at Townhall Magazine.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography