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Gun-rights advocate Blunt touts background checks on gun sales

By   /   January 22, 2013  /   News  /   No Comments

BLUNT: Universal background checks important part of gun control debate

By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog

ST. LOUIS — Missouri’s Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a staunch gun-rights supporter, may have been looking for common ground when he told Fox News that background checks on all gun sales should be part of the gun-control debate.

Background checks have been at the forefront of the discussion after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and most Americans seem to support the checks.

“This is a moment where we can do something about mental-health information sharing, maybe about background checks and other things as well,” Blunt said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think we ought to talk about that.”

Generally speaking, most Democrats have pushed for tighter gun control while the GOP doesn’t want to restrict access.

NEWMAN: Introduced a bill to require background checks for gun show sales.

State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, has proposed legislation in Missouri that would require background checks on sales at gun shows. A current loophole allows unlicensed gun dealers to sell firearms in those settings.

Steve Marx, spokesman for the Gateway Civil Liberties Alliance, told Missouri Watchdog the government should not regulate private-party sales.

“That’s too much power in the hands of a select few bureaucrats,” he said. “They’re looking for total control over this issue.”

President Obama called for tighter background checks as part of a set of proposed laws announced this past week.

“If you want to buy a gun, whether it’s from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one,” he said, adding that as many as 40 percent of gun sales are conducted without a background check.

A poll by CBS News and The New York Times released Thursday indicates that 92 percent of Americans support universal gun background checks.

The support included 89 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats and independents. Eighty-five percent of those living in a household with a member of the National Rifle Association support the idea.

Blunt is less keen on other proposals by Obama, including renewing a long-expired ban on assault weapons and eliminating high-capacity gun magazines.

“Let’s see what they come up with in terms of specific proposals,” Blunt said. “But let’s talk about changes that would have done something about (Newtown). We had bans on things for a decade that didn’t seem to make a difference at all.”

A Huffington Post and YouGov survey done after the Newtown shooting found that about half of Americans — 54 percent — support banning larger magazines.

Blunt has received an A rating from the NRA for promoting issues with which the group agrees. He spoke at a leadership forum held by the NRA in St. Louis last year.

His Democratic counterpart in Missouri, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, got an F from the NRA.

In a scathing op-ed on Huffington Post after the Newtown killings, McCaskill called for the NRA to “come out of hiding” and be a “constructive partner.”

She called a ban on assault rifles and limits to magazine rounds “commonsense proposals.”

Contact Johnny Kampis at [email protected] For more Missouri Watchdog updates, visit Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for a free newsletter.

— Edited by John Trump at [email protected]

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Johnny Kampis is National Watchdog Reporter for Watchdog.org. Johnny previously worked in the newspaper industry and as a freelance writer, and has been published in The New York Times, Time.com, FoxNews.com and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A former semi-professional poker player, he is writing a book documenting the poker scene at the 2016 World Series of Poker, a decade after the peak of the poker boom. Johnny is also a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors.