Sen. Durbin says universal background checks proposal 'has the best chance' of becoming law

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Durbin was asked on Tuesday about the likelihood of Congress passing legislation creating universal background checks for gun purchasers. His comments come as lawmakers consider a number of proposals to reduce gun violence in the aftermath of a shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December that resulted in 28 dead.

"I think it's the one proposal that has the best chance because hunters and sportsman — people who own a gun to protect homes and themselves, they agree," Durbin said in an interview with local radio station WDWS-AM. "We don't want to to sell firearms to criminals and fugitives, those who are under a domestic violence restraining order or people who are mentally unstable. The only way to do our best to keep our guns out of the hands of those folks is to have a universal background check.

"It's the folks that have something to hide or shouldn't own a firearm that we've got to go after," Durbin said.

Since the shooting massacre lawmakers have proposed a number of methods for reducing gun violence. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is seeking to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. But Republican legislators and some Democrats have expressed opposition to that proposal.

Meanwhile, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are working on a compromise for background checks for gun sales. Manchin, who, after the Newtown shooting, quickly called for federal action to reduce gun violence, opposes an assault weapons ban.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) recently called background checks a "reasonable step forward."