US weapon background-check bill stumbles, senators press on
AFPWASHINGTON -- A U.S. Senate panel approved legislation Thursday that makes gun trafficking a federal crime, but bills banning assault weapons and expanding background checks to nearly all gun buyers face a tougher battle.
March 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
President Barack Obama applauded the vote by the Judiciary Committee in support of a bill that cracks down on “straw purchasers,” who buy firearms for gang members and other criminals, saying he hoped to see it on his desk.
“I urge the Senate to give that bill a vote,” he said. “I urge the House to follow suit.”
The president has made it a priority to rein in gun violence in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults with a semi-automatic rifle last December.
A cornerstone of his effort has been an expansion of background checks, but lawmakers have been grappling with how to shepherd it through a divided Congress.
Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy said he hoped to move three more bills through committee in the coming week.
But the bill on federal background checks for all gun purchases hit a roadblock after two senators negotiating on its provisions brought their talks to a halt.
Democrat Chuck Schumer was seeking to team with Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, but the pair failed to resolve a dispute over requiring that records of private gun sales be kept by the seller.
Republicans argue that such data should be destroyed, or it could ultimately be used to compile a national gun registry, something currently prohibited by law.
Despite the setback, Coburn insisted he was “still hopeful we'll get a bill that will actually enhance background checks.”