Chesterton Tribune


Indiana Senator Donnelly supports background checks for gun buyers

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, facing pressure to back comprehensive background checks for gun buyers, says he supports extending them to gun shows.

Donnelly told The Journal Gazette on Tuesday that the checks are needed to keep criminals and the mentally ill from getting weapons.

"I want to make sure that people with, say, a felony or dealing with mental illness cannot get their hands on weapons that can cause so much destruction," he said during a visit to Fort Wayne. "And so we're trying to put together a piece of legislation that will reflect that."

Donnelly said in January that he was receptive to background checks but declined to say at that time whether gun shows should be included.

Federal law requires criminal background checks on prospective customers of federally licensed gun dealers, but it exempts private sellers, including weapons sold at gun shows.

The Senate is expected to consider gun-control measures after it returns to session April 9.

Indiana is one of 13 states where television advertisements have urged viewers to tell their congressmen to vote for comprehensive background checks. That $12 million ad campaign is supported by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns group, whose members include Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry.

A news release issued Tuesday by Mayors Against Illegal Guns identified Donnelly and Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats among 15 key votes for comprehensive background checks.

Coats' communication director, Tara DiJulio, said Tuesday in an email that Coats is waiting to see details of the final legislation.

"Coats remains concerned that many of the current proposals infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and would not prevent deranged individuals from committing acts of violence," DiJulio said. "Coats also believes that more should be done to enforce existing laws on background checks."

Indiana Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman criticized the Mayors Against Illegal Guns' ad campaign in a statement released Tuesday. He is chairman of the Second Amendment Initiative, a caucus of Republican House members who want to preserve gun rights.

"Here in Indiana, responsible gun owners value the 2nd Amendment and know that Mayor Bloomberg's knee-jerk reactions on everything from sodas to firearms aren't going to solve the problem," Stutzman said.



Posted 3/27/2013