POLITICS
03/29/2013 01:06 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2013

Mike Lee: Background Checks Like Letting Government Know What You Ate For Breakfast

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) likened universal background checks for gun purchases Friday to letting the government access what Americans eat for breakfast or how often they go to church.

"The concern with those is that background checks in and of themselves aren’t going to work unless they are accompanied by some sort of registration system," Lee said during an appearance on Fox News. "But the American people when asked about that are far less comfortable."

"They are not really comfortable with the idea of the government knowing exactly what firearm they purchase any more than they would be comfortable with the government knowing when or how often they go to church or what they eat for breakfast or what books they are reading from the library," he added.

Lee's characterization of the legislation is misleading. As ThinkProgress points out, Senate Democratic leadership has proposed requiring private sellers and buyers to meet with a licensed dealer in person. The dealer would check the buyer against the federal database for a fee and then keep a record of the sale.

Although Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has argued that records of private firearms transactions are one step away from a federal gun registry, under the current proposal, the federal government would remain prohibited from establishing a national records database that would track which gun specifically an American citizen decided to purchase.

A poll conducted by HuffPost/YouGov found that 74 percent of respondents favor requiring gun sellers to keep a record of every sale, casting doubt on Lee's confidence that Americans oppose such records. Other recent polling has found that 84 percent of Americans support broader background checks.

Lee is part of a pledge to filibuster gun control legislation, an effort spearheaded by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined the group Thursday, shortly after President Barack Obama continued to press Congress to pass measures to reduce gun violence in response to December's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

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