Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa, the committee’s top Republican, signaled he would be open to working with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the panel's chairman, to craft legislation on tougher penalties for weapons traffickers and for so-called straw purchases, where a legal gun purchaser obtains a weapon for those barred from gun ownership.
While Senator Leahy has introduced his own legislation on the subject, a separate but similar proposal from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York garnered the support of Sen. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois.
On expanding background checks to cover not only licensed sales from gun dealers but the sizable chunk of gun sales from private sellers that do not require such checks, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York said he was having “productive conversations with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including a good number with high NRA ratings” in pursuit of a bill. Senator Schumer offered his hope that those conversations were “close" to legislative language.
At Wednesday's hearing, Leahy proposed marking up whatever legislation emerges next month, then taking it to the floor for a vote shortly thereafter.