Updated at 5:14 p.m.
Washington – Sen. Chris Murphy met with U.S. Attorney General William Barr late Wednesday over a gun background check proposal the White House has circulated to a number of senators.
“Just finished meeting w Attorney General Barr w @SenToomey and Sen_JoeManchin,” Murphy tweeted after the meeting. “It was a really good discussion. But the fact remains that there is no good deal that the gun lobby will support. Now, the White House has a choice to make.”
The administration’s proposal says that “consistent with the Manchin-Toomey draft legislation,” (a compromise bill aimed at expanding FBI background checks of gun purchasers drafted in response to the Newtown massacre) all commercial gun sales would be subject to background checks, including those at gun shows.
But the proposed legislation exempts people-to-people sales and falls short of a bill the U.S. House approved in February that would make background checks of prospective gun buyers universal.
The legislation would also create a new group of licensed transfer agents that would, along with today’s established Federal Firearm Licensees, run information about a prospective gun buyer through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Sellers would choose voluntarily whether the federal firearm licensees or a transfer agent keeps records of the transactions. That’s a concession to Republicans who fear gun owners would object to any proposal could be considered a government “gun registry.”
Both Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., the authors of the compromise bill that failed to pass the Senate after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, have spoken to Barr about the proposal.
Toomey said the idea “as a lot of merit,” but that there are “a lot of details to be fleshed out.”
Murphy has been pressing the White House to back the Manchin-Toomey bill, even as it falls short of the senator’s goal of universal coverage.
A key conservative, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rejected the plan outright Wednesday, saying it is a step toward federal confiscation of guns. President Donald Trump has also not weighed in on the plan.