The one-two punch of separate pushbacks against any gun control legislation that involves a national database of gun owners has stalled in the Senate, perhaps permanently. First, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn told Fox News on Sunday that any inclusion of a national registry in legislation will kill it. He said that there “absolutely will not be record-keeping of legitimate, law-abiding gun owners.” This was followed by comments from House member Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), head of the House Judiciary Committee, that he would oppose any such legislation as well. His committee would oversee any such gun bills in the House.
Expanded background checks that include all gun transactions, including those between private citizens, have been a priority of the Obama administration. The Los Angeles Times called it Obama's “centerpiece” legislation. That such legislation is now effectively stalled was signaled by Vice President Joe Biden in remarks on Wednesday to the National Association of Attorneys General: “They want the law to say no record would be kept. How in the h—l would you know if that transaction would be real if no record can be kept?”
And that is precisely the point. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association told Fox News that such record-keeping wouldn't work in reducing crime simply because criminals wouldn't sign up. So such legislation must be aimed at law-abiding gun owners instead, meant to get their information into a national database for use in the future. Goodlatte agreed, saying that such legislation is “not a very practical thing to do … [and that] you’re not going to keep many weapons out of the hands of people who are misusing them.”
This is disappointing news to Biden’s “working group,” formed just after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting, which included Dan Gross, head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum; and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As noted by the Washington Post, the group was “seriously considering measures … that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers [and] track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database.”
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