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Manchin: ‘I need Republican help’ to fix gun sale checks

One of the Senate’s biggest supporters of firearm background checks is renewing calls for Congress to fix the system in the light of a deadly theater shooting in Lafayette, La.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Sunday that Congress should “shut down the loophole” that allows some mentally ill people, like the Louisiana movie theater shooter, to slip through the government’s system for vetting gun sales.

“Right now, I need Republican help,” said Manchin, a moderate Democrat has led the push to reform background checks.

“I need my friends on the Republican side of the aisle to help us with a most reasonable, sensible path forward,” he said in an appearance with CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Under federal law, licensed gun dealers are required to conduct a background check, either online or by phone, before each firearms sale using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS.

In every state, the system searches for criminal convictions. But the system only scans mental health records in 30 states because it is not required under federal law.

“Right now, a lot of the states and a lot of territories and a lot of areas do not do it,” Manchin said. “We have to make sure we have a thorough job done and that people to turn their records in.”

The system also does not require checks at gun shows.

Manchin co-authored legislation on background checks in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school massacre with a Republican colleague, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) – though it ultimately failed after intense pressure from gun activist groups.

Manchin on Sunday reiterated his previous arguments that the legislation on background checks “is not gun control.”

“It’s just saying that, listen, if you go to a gun show, commercial transaction, we need to know who you are and if you’ve had a problem before,” he said.

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