Monday, March 10, 2014
WASHINGTON — Maine Sen. Susan Collins said Saturday that she plans to support a plan to expand the federal requirements on background checks for gun sales.
Collins, a Republican, told NBC News that she would vote for a compromise negotiated by two gun-friendly senators earlier this week that would require background checks for private gun sales at gun shows or that were advertised online or in print. Under current federal law, background checks are only required for gun sales performed by a licensed firearms dealer.
Collins’ support for the compromise is not surprising. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania – the two primary negotiators – addressed a host of issues that Collins had mentioned were of high priority for her.
For instance, the Manchin-Toomey deal would exempt transactions between family members from the background check requirement. The proposal also explicitly prohibits the creation of a “national registry” of gun owners. And the compromise would create a national commission to study the causes of mass shootings, which Collins had called for in the immediate aftermath of the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Earlier this week, Collins had called the compromise “very promising” but declined to immediately endorse it. The deal was key to breaking a Republican filibuster of the gun control measure now pending on the floor, setting up votes on individual measures as early as next Tuesday.
“I want to see the actual language because the language is very important,” Collins, who has been the target of lobbying campaigns from both sides, said on Wednesday. “But I think they have made terrific progress in responding to some of the concerns that I have personally had.”
Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has said he would support expanding background checks to private sales but with exceptions for transfers between family members.
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