Deal Reached on Guns, But It Looks Fairly Weak

| Wed Apr. 10, 2013 10:59 AM EDT

Apparently we have a deal on background checks:

A bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal to expand gun background checks to all commercial sales — whether at gun shows, via the Internet or in any circumstance involving paid advertising, according to Senate aides familiar with the talks. The amendment to the guns legislation already proposed in the Senate would not cover private transactions between individuals, unless there was advertising or an online service involved.

....Under the terms of the Manchin-Toomey deal all background checks would be conducted by federally licensed gun firearm dealers, who would need to verify the validity of a purchaser’s gun license and record that a check was performed. Background checks would need to be completed within three days, except at gun shows, where they would have to be completed within two days for the next four years, and then within 24 hours. In order to avoid processing delays, the FBI would be required to complete background checks requested at gun shows before those requested elsewhere.

....Under the Manchin-Toomey deal, records of the newly covered transactions would be kept by federally licensed arms dealers, according to a person familiar with the agreement. Currently, licensed arms dealers keep records of gun sales that take place in gun stores.

On the bright side, the deal seems to require that records of background checks be maintained in the same way as current background checks. This is a key provision, since without recordkeeping the law is essentially worthless. On the not-so-bright side, the exemption for private transactions seems to be pretty broad. This goes well beyond the limited exemption for family members previously under consideration, and would cover anyone using, say, Craigslist to sell a gun.

I suspect that this is a very modest step forward, since the loopholes still seem to be big enough to cover pretty much anyone who wants to sell a gun without doing a check. But I'll wait for more knowledgeable folks to weigh in on this before I say more.

UPDATE: Apparently Craigslist doesn't allow sales of guns, so that was a bad example. However, the general point stands.