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Gun Buyer Background Check Best Chance for New Limits

by Heidi Przybyla, Bloomberg.com  |  published on February 12, 2013

A coalition of House Republicans is willing to thwart the National Rifle Association’s opposition to broadening background checks for U.S. gun purchases. That may be President Barack Obama’s best chance for advancing tougher gun regulations this year.

Representatives Patrick Meehan and Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania are among Republicans expressing openness to expanding the background-check system, including mandatory screening of buyers at gun shows. “We need to consider any option that will keep people safe,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview.

“I’m interested in looking at closing the gun-show loophole,” Meehan said in an interview. “But I’m also going to be watching where this goes, particularly in the Senate and how much real effort will be put” forth, he said.

The loose alliance of Republicans, largely from urban districts in the Northeast and states including Virginia that have been the sites of mass shootings in the past several years, is also focused on regulations involving mental-health reporting of firearms buyers and gun trafficking as first steps in combating gun violence.

Expansion of background checks for gun purchasers is gaining bipartisan support in Congress and among the public while restrictions on weapons may confront stiffer opposition in Congress. A Quinnipiac University poll released Feb. 7 found more than 9 in 10 Americans support universal background checks.

The coalition of House Republicans is probably no larger than 40, according to advocates of tighter gun restrictions, though it may grow once such measures advance in Congress.

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