A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is closing in on an agreement to expand background checks for gun purchases, a test of how far lawmakers may go to address gun violence after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahomahave worked out 90 percent of their differences over a measure that would expand criminal background checks to most private sales of guns, according to two Senate aides who asked for anonymity to discuss the talks.
The senators remain at odds over whether private sellers must maintain records of sales, which some Republicans oppose and advocates say is necessary to enforce a broad background check law. Coburn, who represents a solidly pro-gun state, could help the measure advance.
“They’re close,” said Jim Kessler, a former legislative director to Schumer. “It’s like climbing the summit of Mount Everest, the oxygen gets pretty thin up there,” said Kessler, now senior vice president for policy at Third Way, a Democratic- aligned policy group in Washington.