Hutchinson clarifies position on background checks
The National Rifle Association adviser who broke with the organization's position has clarified his position on gun sale background checks.
After announcing the NRA's National School Shield Project school safety findings at a Tuesday press conference, he appeared on CNN later and said he "absolutely" supported expanding background checks. The NRA supports expanding the data included in the database - such as those with mental health issues - but does not support conducting a background check on every gun sale, including so-called private sales currently exempt from the federal requirement.
"I have stated that, just now, earlier, as to my view that, first of all, let's fix this system," he said in an interview on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
"Secondly, if you can somehow close any of the loopholes in backgrounds without infringing upon those casual sales between friends and neighbors and relatives, then obviously we want to keep those firearms from being purchased by someone who has that kind of a criminal record."
Hutchinson underscored that he is "not a spokesperson on those issues for the NRA" and that his views are his own.
"We have a Second Amendment. And the Second Amendment says you have the right, citizens have rights, and you have to have some reasonable constraints on those and that's the debate," he said in the interview. "But I don't think we need to make it more burdensome on the average citizen whenever it comes to handling firearms whether it's for hunting purposes or whether it is for personal safety."
He suggested he would support closing the so-called gun show loophole in some cases when the background check would not place an additional burden on the seller or purchaser.
"For example, right now if you go to a gun show, you have registered firearm dealers who are there, but if you have a casual sale ... they're not a registered dealer, perhaps they can make a sale" and conduct a background check because "you've got accessible, they're right there in the same venue, so you can have those background checks done very easily without being a burden."
On Tuesday, he answered a question on the issue telling CNN, "Absolutely. I'm open to expanding background checks."
"If you can do it in a way that does not infringe upon an individual and make it hard for an individual to transfer to a friend or a neighbor or somebody," he added.
A spokesman for the NRA told CNN after the remarks that Hutchinson was "not speaking" for the NRA, which does not back universal background checks.
"He meant expanding it to include more people into the national instant check system," the spokesman said. "And by number of people, this is in reference to the quality of information within NICS."
Hutchinson later explained in an e-mail to CNN, "On universal background checks, I don't think that will solve the problem; nor increase safety; and the details of private transfers are all difficult to visualize. That has not been my focus."
Instead, he underscored in both interviews, he was focused on the school safety issue, which included a proposal to train and arm a staff member in schools.
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