Manchin joins gun background check effort

PARKERSBURG – A U.S. senator from West Virginia is working behind the scenes on a compromise expanding background checks on gun sales.

Sen. Joe Manchin Friday had little to disclose other than the four senators working on a compromise had to include a Democrat and Republican with A ratings from the National Rifle Association.

“We’re working in a responsible and reasonable way,” Manchin, a Democrat and member of the NRA, told The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

The Associated Press on Friday reported that Manchin and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., were involved in the private talks. Schumer is the third in leadership in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Coburn is a member of the NRA.

Coburn and Manchin have A ratings from the NRA while Schumer and Kirk have Fs.

An issue is background checks are required only for sales by federally licensed gun dealers, of which there are more than 55,000. However, background checks are not required for sales at gun shows that are person-to-person sales or private transactions.

Other aspects such the “culture of violence” in the nation need study, too, Manchin said.

“We need to look at all aspects of that,” he said.

Expanding background checks is part of the gun-control plan put forth by President Obama after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in December.

The discussions by the senators includes ways to encourage states to put mental health records in a national system, the types of gun transactions that could be exempt, such as between relatives or those who have permits to carry concealed weapons, exempting sales in remote areas and to help veterans who sought treatment for traumatic stress disorder and are prohibited from getting firearms.

The senators have been frequently talking with each other, Manchin said. They will reach an agreement, then take it to other lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, he said.

“We’re just about finished with our drafts,” Manchin said.