Obama, Congressional Advocates of Gun Control Call for New Restrictions--While Expressing Strong Support for 2nd Amendment

By Susan Jones | March 16, 2011 | 11:03 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama, congressional Democrats and the nation's mayors appear to be working in tandem to "fix the nation's broken background check system." They also want to "close the loophole" that allows private sales of guns between individuals.

In their latest comments on the subject, these gun control advocates are using similar arguments and similar language – including statements to the effect that they “strongly support the Second Amendment.”

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, both of New York, announced the introduction of a House bill that would penalize states that fail to submit  records on criminals, drug abusers, domestic violence offenders and the "seriously mentally ill" to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The bill was announced two days after an op-ed by President Barack Obama appeared in a Tucson newspaper. In the op-ed on Sunday, Obama called for “common sense” ways to keep guns out of criminals’ hands. He singled out “porous background checks” as a problem. But first he assured Americans, “I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.”

On Monday, a White House spokesman said the Obama Justice Department was beginning a dialogue this week with “stakeholders” on both sides of the gun issue.

Meanwhile, the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns – led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- is running a truck-mounted billboard across the country to spread the message that “guns kill.” The mayors’ group is urging Congress to “fix” the gun background check system.

In fact, the bill introduced by Rep. McCarthy is based on the mayors’ proposal, as is the bill that Schumer introduced earlier in the Senate.

Mayor Bloomberg joined Schumer and McCarthy and other lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday to generate publicity for the Democrats’ latest “commonsense” gun bill.

"Too often, any serious discussion about guns devolves into ideological arguments that have nothing to do with the real problem," Bloomberg said. "Our coalition strongly believes in the Second Amendment.  We also know from experience that we can keep guns away from dangerous people without imposing burdens on law-abiding gun owners.  This legislation, sponsored by Senator Schumer in the Senate, and now Representative McCarthy in the House, will give us a working background check system with no loopholes, which is what Americans want and deserve."

The legislation introduced by Schumer and McCarthy would penalize states that don’t submit all relevant records to the NICS database, which is supposed to weed out prohibited gun-buyers. States that don’t comply would face escalating cuts in their Justice Department grant funding. States would be required to report 75 percent of all relevant records by FY 2013; and 90 percent by FY 2018 to avoid noncompliance penalties.

The bill also would require federal agencies to certify twice a year to the U.S. Attorney General that they have submitted all relevant records to the NICS database.

Additionally, the legislation closes what gun control advocates call the private sale “loophole,” also known as the “gun show loophole.”

Under current law, only federally licensed firearm dealers must conduct background checks.  Individuals -- private citizens -- who are not licensed dealers are not required to run checks, but the bill would require private sellers to verify, either with local law enforcement or through certified gun dealers, that the person to whom they are selling guns is not on the NICS list.

"As a founding member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition and now a Member of Congress, I know one of the greatest threats to peace in our communities is gun violence," Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said on Tuesday. "While our coalition fully supports the Second Amendment, we know from experience in our cities that we need to do more to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of criminals, drug abusers, domestic violence offenders and the seriously mentally ill.  This common-sense legislation closes existing loopholes in the gun background check system in a way that better protects our neighborhoods against gun violence but does not impose additional restrictions on law-abiding gun owners."

In his March 13 op-ed in The Arizona Daily Star, President Obama talked about getting beyond “stalemate” and finding areas where both sides of the gun debate can agree. He said keeping guns out of the hands of criminals should be one such point of agreement.

But in its response to Obama’s op-ed, the National Rifle Association said any serious discussion would have to include a push to incarcerate more criminals as well as reforms in the nation’s mental health system.

See Related Story:
Invoking Tucson Shooting, Obama Seeks ‘Common Sense’ Restrictions on Gun Sales