Although lengthy bipartisan negotiations over strengthening background checks for gun purchasers hit a stumbling block this week, Sen. Tom Coburn appeared relatively confident Thursday morning that a deal could ultimately be struck.
The Oklahoma Republican had been engaged in talks with Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, as well as Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, but talks were put on hold after a hang-up over record-keeping on gun sales proved too difficult to overcome.
Mr. Schumer’s own bill on universal background checks on gun sales is up for a vote at Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, and he, Mr. Manchin and Mr. Kirk also plan to hunt for other Republican co-sponsors on compromise legislation.
Mr. Coburn, though, was anything but sour Thursday, saying that he Mr. Schumer have a “great relationship” and that the New York Democrat has been really straightforward throughout the talks.
“The problem isn’t Chuck or I; the problem are outside groups and where you think you can go,” Mr. Coburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Mr. Coburn said one major problem is that guns are often unwittingly transferred to people who are a danger to themselves or others, and another is following up to trace a gun after a crime is committed.
“[T]he thing that’s holding us up is the ability to trace back to one of those transfers, and the problem is most gun owners — and I’d say well in excess of 98, 99 percent — don’t transfer a gun to somebody that’s not on the list and those that do aren’t going to follow whatever we do anyway,” Mr. Coburn said. “So the idea ought to be is let’s make it easy and not onerous on somebody to do the right thing and let’s make sure that their rights are protected — not just their Second Amendment rights, but all the rest of their rights under the Constitution, and by that I mean in our country, you have to prove that somebody did something wrong. They don’t have to prove they did something right.”
“And that’s the hang-up, and the outside gun groups aren’t there yet, but if we’re going to get a deal, that’s where it’s going to have to be; otherwise you’re not going to have a deal, and my deal is let’s do the right thing and enhance this, and I think we can,” he continued. “I think we’ll ultimately get there even though, you know, the outside groups aren’t comfortable with it yet.”