Sen. Kay Hagan favors expanding background checks for guns
By Travis Fain
News & Record
GREENSBORO — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan likes the idea of expanding background checks for gun purchases, but her vote on legislation nearing the Senate floor will depend on the details, her office said Tuesday.
Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, is also prepared to vote for increased gun trafficking penalties and new school safety measures widely expected to be part of a gun bill.
She’s “unlikely to support” a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban or limits on gun magazine sizes because of “the impact it could have on responsible gun owners,” said Sadie Weiner, a Hagan spokeswoman.
These comments come as rhetoric in the gun debate again nears fever pitch. The Senate is scheduled to take up a bill after it returns from Easter break April 8. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns group is running $12 million worth of commercials in the interim.
The goal is to pressure key lawmakers to vote for the bill, and particularly for the new background checks. The group lists 15 senators it’s targeting — 10 Republicans and five Democrats, including Hagan.
Burr’s office was coy Tuesday when asked about details of the developing bill.
“Sen. Burr opposes efforts to further infringe on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens,” a spokesman said in an email. “Burr is open to having a conversation about ways in which our nation can address mental health issues and reduce violence, but he does not support limiting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”
Burr’s press office declined to address the specifics of background checks and other expected elements of the bill.
The expanded background checks, which polls show people favor, are expected to be the bill’s centerpiece, though it’s unclear how expanded the checks will be. Gun control advocates have complained for years of a “gun show loophole” that allows person-to-person weapon sales without government records.
Would closing that loophole mean a family member who gives or sells a gun to another family member must run a background check and file paperwork with a licensed firearms dealer?
That’s one of many questions that needs to be answered before a final vote in the Senate, Weiner said.
Bloomberg’s group is also working with the remnants of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, operating as “Organizing for Action,” to put together “National Day to Demand Action” events across the country Thursday. One is scheduled for Greensboro.
At least one of the group’s ads is running in North Carolina. It features a man in a camouflage hat holding a shotgun in his lap as he sits on his pickup at a farm while children play in the out-of-focus background. He speaks in favor of comprehensive background checks and their ability to keep criminals and the mentally ill from buying guns.
The ads tell viewers to call a telephone number that plays recorded talking points and connects to a targeted senator based on the caller’s ZIP code. From North Carolina, the line connects to Hagan’s office.
Contact Travis Fain at 373-4476, and follow @travisfain on Twitter.