CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A new measure championed by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin calls for expanding background checks for guns purchased at trade shows or online.
Officially termed the "Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act," Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., introduced the measure Wednesday.
"Back home where I come from, we have common sense, we have nonsense and now we have gun-sense, and that's what we're talking about," Manchin said Wednesday during a press conference in Washington.
Current law requires a gun buyer to undergo a background check if he or she is buying from a licensed dealer. Many non-licensed dealers attend gun shows, and purchases from these dealers do not require checks.
Manchin's proposed change calls for all sales at gun shows to require a background check.
"You'll be treated the same at a gun show as you would at a gun store," Manchin said.
Not all online gun sales are covered by current law.
An online sale between residents of the same state does not require a background check. That "loophole" would be closed, Manchin said.
The bill goes a long way to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, Manchin said in a phone call late Wednesday.
It still would allow "personal transfers" of firearms: friends, neighbors or coworkers could still sell or trade guns without a background check, according to a checklist posted on Manchin's website explaining the amendment.
Anyone who had obtained a valid concealed carry permit would also not have to submit to a background check because obtaining the permit already requires one.
Licensed dealers still would have to maintain a record of background checks, but Manchin said the measure expressly prohibits the federal government from creating a registry with the information.
It also would create penalties for states that failed to submit information to the national system in a timely manner.
Such a delay appears to have allowed the man accused of fatally shooting Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum to purchase a gun.
Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks told The Associated Press an "inexcusable delay" in the reporting system allowed Tennis Melvin Maynard to buy the gun he allegedly used to kill Crum.
Manchin said he was not aware of the circumstances of the Mingo case but emphasized the need for speedy reporting.
If a background check didn't process within three days, the sale would be allowed to proceed under current law. Manchin's measure would shorten that period to 48 hours, with a provision to reduce it to 24 hours once the National Instant Criminal Background Check System improves.
The bill also establishes the "National Commission on Mass Violence" Manchin has advocated since the December massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Manchin said he was in constant contact with West Virginians Wednesday and most seem supportive of the measure after learning of its provisions.
The West Virginia Republican Party does not support the bill. In a prepared statement, GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas called Manchin's measure an attempt to "hinder freedom."
"No matter the topic, every issue is subject to negotiation or sale to the highest liberal bidders," Lucas said in the statement.