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Friends And Neighbors’ Exception Part Of Deal On Gun Checks

The scene at a gun show in Alabama last month.

With the Senate set to vote on Democratic-backed gun control legislation that a group of Republicans have promised to filibuster, there's word that two key senators have put the finishing touches on a compromise over one key issue -- "universal" background checks for gun purchasers.

Senators Joe Manchin, D-Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., are set to formally unveil their plan at 11 a.m. ET (C-SPAN will stream their news conference).

Politico, which says it has obtained a "fact sheet" about the compromise "from a representative of one of the gun control groups involved in the talks," writes that:

"The deal would close the so-called gun show loophole, requiring that background checks are conducted on all commercial gun sales in the country. ... When a sale occurs, the buyer and seller would meet at a licensed dealer, who would conduct the check. ...

"The fact sheet stresses that the dealer records would help law enforcement trace guns recovered at crime scenes. However, person-to-person sales -- the 'friends and neighbors exceptions' would not be subject to a check."

That last provision, about sales between friends, family members and neighbors, has been among the issues that opponents of new gun laws have been concerned about. They make the case that requiring background checks for such sales would be too much of a burden.

But so-called straw purchases, when a person with a clean record buys a gun for someone who legally couldn't make such a purchase, are also of concern. The Hill says that the Manchin-Toomey plan includes "a bipartisan provision to enact tougher penalties on straw purchasers."

According to Politico, the Manchin-Toomey deal "would be offered as an amendment to an existing Democratic gun bill."

The Hill adds that:

"Hopes for a deal on background checks have rested for days in the talks between Manchin, a centrist Democrat with an A rating from the National Rifle Association, and Toomey, who represents a state that has leaned toward Democrats in presidential election years. Toomey is up for reelection in 2016, the next presidential election year."

We'll monitor the senators' news conference and update this post.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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