04/03/2013 07:31 pm ET Updated Apr 04, 2013

Mark Pryor Sponsored Array Of Gun Control Bills As State Legislator

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has largely stayed out of the debate over the gun control package headed to the Senate floor in the coming weeks. He's said he opposes an assault weapons ban, and when a group backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran ads in Arkansas pressuring lawmakers to back the gun proposals, Pryor simply put out a statement in response, saying, "I don't take gun advice from the mayor of New York City."

But a look back at Pryor's time in the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served from 1991 to 1995, shows that he authored four gun control bills that target the same issues that would be remedied by two bills currently being debated in the Senate. Except those bills, which would implement universal background checks and target gun trafficking, don't have Pryor's support.

In 1993, Pryor authored bills that would confiscate weapons from minors illegally in possession of them, enhance penalties for minors in possession of a handgun, make it a crime to sell guns to a felon and increase penalties on people who sell guns to a felon or someone deemed mentally ill by a court.

The universal background checks bill, which is still being drafted, would require background checks at every point of sale of a firearm. By requiring checks at gun shows and between private sellers, something that isn't currently required, minors and people who have been adjudicated as mentally ill would no longer be able to purchase guns in those scenarios.

The gun trafficking bill, meanwhile, would explicitly make it illegal to buy weapons for someone else who is barred from owning weapons. It would also impose stiff new penalties of up to 25 years in prison.

Pryor, a conservative Democrat up for re-election in 2014, hasn't endorsed either of those bills. A Pryor spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To be fair, Pryor has hinted that he could get behind a gun trafficking proposal. And he is cosponsoring a watered-down background checks bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). That bill is narrowly focused on people with mental illness, though, and it wouldn't address the gun show loophole.


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