McCain emerges as key senator in expanding background checks

MCCAINSen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has emerged as a key player if Senate Democrats are to have any chance of passing legislation to expand background checks for private sales of firearms.

McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are at the top of a list of Republicans considered most likely to sign on to legislation expanding background checks after talks with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stalled earlier this month.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has signaled he will likely support the yet-to-be-finalized proposal he negotiated with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales, according to Senate sources.

The proposal includes modifications to attract Republican support. One would let rural gun owners conduct background checks from their home computers. Another would create an appeals process for military veterans who have been declared mentally unfit to own a gun.

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Expanding background checks is the centerpiece of President Obama’s proposal to change the nation’s gun laws in response to the mass shooting that killed 20 children in Newtown, Conn., last December.

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