U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), the author of legislation approved by the Senate in 1999 to close the gun show loophole, today expressed cautious optimism about the gun safety compromise bill introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Lautenberg's proposal to close the gun show loophole--a significant loophole in U.S. law that allows guns to be sold, even to criminals and the severely mentally ill, by unlicensed sellers at gun shows without conducting background checks--is at the heart of the compromise bill introduced today.
"I've been fighting to close the gun show loophole since 1999, and I'm glad to see we'll have another chance to enact this important reform," Lautenberg said. "When it comes to gun legislation, the devil is always in the details and I will carefully review this compromise bill. I am cautiously optimistic that this compromise will be effective in reducing illegal gun sales and preventing dangerous weapons from getting into the wrong hands."
Senator Lautenberg re-introduced his bill to close the gun show loophole in January 2013. The legislation has 16 co-sponsors.
Sen. Lautenberg has been working to close the gun show loophole since 1999, when he first introduced legislation to require background checks for all guns sold at gun shows. Later that year--in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, where three of the weapons were purchased at gun shows without a background check--a Republican-controlled Senate passed Sen. Lautenberg's legislation as an amendment to a juvenile justice bill. The legislation passed by one vote, with Vice President Gore casting the tie-breaking vote. However, the gun lobby killed the legislation in the House-Senate conference.