Region 8 reacts to background checks on gun purchases

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Today lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan deal on expanding background checks to gun buyers at gun shows and online.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced the proposal Wednesday morning detailing key points of the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.

Toomey and Manchin say the proposed bill would expand the existing background check system to cover commercial sales, including sales at gun shows and online, strengthen the existing instant check system and it establish a National Commission on Mass Violence to study the causes of mass violence in the United States.

Lynn Exum, gunsmith and owner of Lynn's Gunshop in Paragould, has crafted and sold firearms since 1961 to several retailers in Region 8. "I do all the business in Paragould and Jonesboro. I do gunsmithing for DNW and Hawks (Outfitters) and Al's Lock & Key."

Exum, who is a licensed seller says the bipartisan gun deal will not affect his business because licensed sellers have always been required to do background checks.

"The dealers are required to do the I.D. checks… here and at gun shows before they ever even leave the building," he said.

Lynn's Gun Shop sells at shows about once a month. Exum believes the new law would most impact independent sellers at those shows. "It will affect most people that does not have a license that carries their own personal weapons into the gun shows (to sell them)."

Gun owner Kevin Edwards thinks the focus on background checks is misplaced. "I do feel like there should be background checks, but don't push that issue. That's not the issue here," Edwards said. "I think Congress and lawmakers are going the wrong way. I believe if you break a law as far as a gun, don't punish the rest of us for these criminals. I believe that they need to stiffen the laws."

Shortly after the deal announcement, the NRA issued a response, saying:

"Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools. While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg's "universal" background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows. The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson. We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies, while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone. President Obama should be as committed to dealing with the gang problem that is tormenting honest people in his hometown as he is to blaming law-abiding gun owners for the acts of psychopathic murderers."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) plans to hold a vote Thursday on opening debate about the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.

Click here for more details about the proposed act on Sen. Toomey's web site.

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