Proposal Considered for Expanded Background Checks

Two U.S. senators announced a new proposal Wednesday that would expand background checks for gun-buyers.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania want laws in place that would require background checks for people buying guns at gun shows and on the Internet.  Currently, the system only covers sales through licensed gun dealers.

“If you pass a criminal background check, you get to buy a gun. It’s no problem,” said Toomey. “It’s the people who fail a criminal or a mental heath background check that we don’t want having guns.”

The mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater last July left 12 people dead. Police said the suspected gunman purchased four guns at local shops and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet.

However, it was the shooting in Newtown, Conn. where 20 children lost their lives that prompted the senators to draft the legislation.

“Nobody here, and I mean not one of us in this great Capitol of ours with a good conscience could sit by and not try to prevent a day like that from happening again,” said Manchin.

The proposal is already facing opposition from many, including local gun-owners.  Rick Kaleda, Mahoning County chairman of Buckeye Firearms and independent firearms instructor, said the expanded checks wouldn’t have changed any of the mass shootings, and the best way to prevent tragedies like Connecticut is to train law-abiding citizens on how to protect themselves.

“In Connecticut, the guns were stolen. And in other tragedies, guns were obtained through different ways,” said Kaleda. “An armed teacher, an armed law-abiding parent, these are the kinds of solutions that could actually solve the problem,”

Lawmakers are expected to start debating the new proposal as early as Thursday.

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