NRA's Hutchinson endorses expanded background checks

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Appearing on CNN, Hutchinson told Wolf Blitzer that he opposes most of the gun control proposals floating around Capitol Hill, but he says he could accept expanding criminal background checks – as President Obama and many Democrats are proposing.

"Yes, absolutely, I'm open to expanding background checks," Hutchinson told Blitzer. "[If] you can do it within a way that does not infringe upon an individual and make it hard for an individual to transfer to a friend or a neighbor."

Under current federal law, licensed gun dealers are required to screen potential buyers before making a sale to weed out those prohibited from buying or owning firearms – a list that includes felons, fugitives, illegal immigrants, spousal abusers and the severely mentally ill.

Unlicensed gun sellers, however, are not required to investigate buyers at all – an enormous hole in the screening process that allows most anyone to purchase firearms.

In the wake of December's Newtown, Conn., shooting massacre, Obama has urged Congress to enact a long list of tougher gun controls, including an expansion of background checks to precede all gun sales. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has introduced such a bill, which is expected to get a vote on the Senate floor this month, but he's had no luck attracting Republican support in the face of the NRA's blanket opposition to background checks for private gun sales.

Prior to his CNN interview Tuesday, Hutchinson had unveiled a 225-page report – funded by the NRA – on how to protect students from tragedies like Newtown. The blueprint disregards all gun control efforts, however, and advocates instead for putting armed personnel in every school in the country.

Hutchinson says the issue of student safety is unrelated to tougher gun laws, including an expansion of background checks.

"On my task force, we had varied opinions on that issue," Hutchinson told CNN. "But it was not the focus of our task force."