Sens. Kirk, Manchin working on background check legislation

Sens. Mark KirkMark KirkJuan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (R-Ill.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCould bipartisanship rise with Trump government? Overnight Finance: Trump adviser softens tone on NAFTA | Funding bill to be released Tuesday | GOP leader won't back Trump tariff plan Top Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination MORE (D-W.Va.) are collaborating on legislation to expand requirements on background checks to purchase firearms.

"We are working together to find an amenable background-check proposal," a Kirk staffer told The Hill on Thursday afternoon.

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Proposals to increase background checks are widely popular with the public, according to polls, and are the least controversial of a number of gun-control measures proposed by President Obama. But gun-control legislation has gotten off to a rocky start because of resistance from Republicans and some red-state Democrats.

Kirk and Manchin, close friends who represent states that normally elect members from their opposite parties, could be crucial to any gun-control debate. Kirk has long backed an assault-weapons ban and is one of the most pro-gun control Republican senators. Manchin, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, has also emerged as a key player in the current gun-control debate. He's called for a wide-ranging discussion on how to cut down on gun violence, including new firearm restrictions, and on Thursday morning came out in favor of increased background checks.

The Kirk staffer also confirmed that the senator was working with Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandGOP chairman: Spending bill expected to last through April Vet groups applaud Trump's Defense pick of Mattis Dem lawmaker won't support waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary MORE (D-N.Y.) on legislation to crack down on gun trafficking.