Right now, whether a gun purchase requires a background check some of the time, but it depends on the state and situation.
If the elected representatives in Washington truly represent their voters, one would think those voters are sharply divided on the issue of universal background checks on all gun purchases. Not so, according to a new poll from the Washington Post/ABC. They found that 91% of Americans support universal background checks and 74% of National Rifle Association (NRA) members agree. 82% said they strongly support background checks. Republicans were with the consensus, supporting background checks 87-11, 73% saying they support strongly.
As for the poll itself, Nate Silver of the New York Times estimated that Washinton Post/ABC polls have an average error of 2.8 percentage points, according to his analysis of their presidential polls. That error isn't nothing, but the overwhelming results of the poll trump any bias in the numbers (Silver also found that Post/ABC polls have a Republican lean).
In March, talks over the specifics of a background checks bill broke down between Senators Schumer (D-N.Y.), Manchin (D-W.V.), Kirk (R-Ill.) and Coburn (R-Okla.). While all of them were working toward enhanced background checks, it's telling that they couldn't agree on the specifics when 90% of America agrees on the general idea. We'll have a better idea of how many in Congress support universal background checks when a bill comes forward later this month, but the smart money would be on less than 90%. The gun lobby is very strong, and it fights tooth and nail against any reforms, and politicians have to be plied away from their money and power to listen to their constituents.