McCain emerges as key senator in creating universal gun registration scheme; Bloomberg targets Ohio Sen. Rob Portman in ads

by Chad D. Baus

The Hill is reporting that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has emerged as a key player in Senate Democrats' battle to move legislation to impose a so-called "universal" background check gun registration scheme that would force law-abiding gun owners to get permission from the government before any private transfer of firearms, even among family members.

From the article:

McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are at the top of a list of Republicans considered most likely to sign on to legislation expanding background checks after talks with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stalled earlier this month.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has signaled he will likely support the yet-to-be-finalized proposal he negotiated with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales, according to Senate sources.

The proposal includes modifications to attract Republican support. One would let rural gun owners conduct background checks from their home computers. Another would create an appeals process for military veterans who have been declared mentally unfit to own a gun.

The article notes that expanding background checks is the centerpiece of President Obama's proposal to change the nation's gun laws in response to the mass shooting that killed 20 children in Newtown, Conn., last December, but fails to observe that such a law would not have prevented the massacre since the little coward used a stolen gun, as is often the case.

Despite his poor record on the gun issue, including past support for a ban on modern sporting rifles and campaign finance reform legislation that nearly muzzled pro-gun groups, as a 2008 presidential candidate, McCain promised to fight future attempts to weaken the Second Amendment. Given the specter of an Obama presidency, some gun rights groups, including the NRA, endorsed McCain.

This article and these events show the dangers of endorsing a candidate based mainly on who his opponent is. The media are now using the NRA's grades to prop up the notion that supposedly pro-gun legislators are backing this gun registration scheme:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has announced he will include background-check legislation in a firearms package scheduled for the Senate floor in April, even though it’s uncertain whether it could attract the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

McCain could provide crucial Republican support because he has a "B-plus" rating from the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful interest groups in Washington. His endorsement could bring along Heller, who has an "A" rating from the NRA.

Collins and Kirk have weaker credentials on gun issues within Republican circles. Collins has a "C-plus" rating from the NRA and Kirk has an "F."

Manchin, who has an "A" rating from the NRA, has taken the lead in shopping the background-check proposal to Republican lawmakers, said a Senate aide.

Manchin said he is shopping the proposal widely but declined Friday to reveal his lobbying list.

"Anybody and every one of them. I'm talking to everybody," he said when asked to identify targeted Republican senators.

McCain said he has discussed extended background checks but declined to reveal any details from those talks.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is targeting Ohio senator Rob Portman in his effort to help secure enough votes to pass a "universal" check/ registration scheme.

From the Akron Beacon-Journal:

Bloomberg, a former Republican turned independent, has just sunk $12 million for Mayors Against Illegal Guns to run television ads and phone banks in 13 states urging voters to tell their senators to pass legislation requiring universal background checks for gun buyers.

"We demanded a plan and then we demanded a vote. We've got the plan, we're going to get the vote. And now it's incumbent on us to make our voices heard," said Bloomberg.

...Recalling the horrific shooting three months ago at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 first graders and six school administrators dead, Bloomberg said it would be a great tragedy if Congress, through inaction, lost the moment to make the country safer from gun violence. Bloomberg said that 90 percent of Americans and 80 percent of NRA members support universal background checks for gun purchases.

"I don't think there's ever been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly, where Congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing," Bloomberg said.

But the NRA's LaPierre counters that universal background checks are "a dishonest premise." For example, mental health records are exempt from databases and criminals won't submit to the checks. Background checks, he said, are a "speed bump" in the system that "slows down the law-abiding and does nothing for anybody else."

"The shooters in Tucson, in Aurora, in Newtown, they're not going to be checked. They're unrecognizable," LaPierre said. He was referring to the 2011 shooting in a Tucson shopping center that killed six and wounded 13, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the July assault in a suburban Denver movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.

PLEASE CLICK HERE to contact Sen. Rob Portman and make your voice heard on this important issue.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

Media Coverage:

WCMH (NBC Columbus) - Ohio Targeted By TV Ads Pushing For Gun Buyer Background Checks

"What Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Coleman need to do is to crack down on the felons and the people out there committing crimes in the first place and this problem goes away," said Gerard Valentino, Buckeye Firearms Association Board member.

He said a Justice Department study shows that less than one percent of guns used in crimes can be traced to gun shows and private sales. Also, by law, licensed gun dealers in Ohio already have to do background checks.

WBNS (CBS Columbus) - Bloomberg's Pro-Gun Control Advertisement Running In Columbus Spurs Debate

But Gerald[sic] Valentino from the Buckeye Firearms Foundation strongly disagrees.

"Universal background checks make it impossible for me as a father to transfer a gun to my son. And it also creates a universal gun registry," Valentino said.

Valentino says Coleman and Columbus police already have enough gun laws on the books.

"When they figure out that a stolen gun was used in a crime, the very first charge that's usually dropped in a plea bargain is the gun charge. We know there's no compelling need here because as more people have carried guns, gun crime and gun violence has gone down," said Valentino.

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