New compromise could expand background checks on gun sales - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

New compromise could expand background checks on gun sales


A new compromise reached by two senators could expand background checks.

Right now, the background check system covers sales only by licensed gun dealers.

But this compromise by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Patrick Toomey could expand the background checks to all commercial sales such as transactions online and at gun shows.

James Godell owns The Gun Doctor and More in Longview. He said a lot of people he has spoken to are leery of background checks.

"It will definitely hurt the gun shows. Our business will increase a little bit just because everybody is going to have to have a background check," he explained.

Licensed firearm instructor and attorney Sean Healy said he is a little surprised by this bipartisan deal.

"These two persons have been A-rated by the National Rifle Association, so you would expect them to be staunch defenders of our constitutional rights. Again, we don't know what this bill says, and the devil is absolutely in the details here," Healy.

Even without knowing all of the gritty details, Healy said he is not in favor of the direction this is headed.

"Requiring a background check before a citizen purchases a gun is a prior restraint on a fundamental constitutional right," Healy said.

Godell thinks otherwise.

"I don't know if someone is a criminal unless I run a background check and the last thing that we need is that someone who is not allowed to have a firearm to possess one," Godell said.

If passed, private transactions that are not-for-profit would be exempt. It is something Healy is in favor of, but he says even with exemptions like that, he does not think the majority of East Texans will support these expanded background checks.

"A congressman and a senator have to answer to their constituents. If they vote for something like this, they have a lot of explaining to do," Healy said.

Senator Toomey said background checks on gun buyers are not the same as gun control. The agreement is expected to make it more likely that the senate's vote on Thursday to start debating gun legislation will succeed, despite an effort by conservatives to block it.

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