Gun laws advance in U.S. Senate

March 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved bills to expand background checks for gun sales and reauthorize federal funding for security at schools.

The background check bill passed on a party-line vote of 10-8, while the committee voted 14-4 in favor of the school security bill, USA Today reported.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said action could come Thursday on a bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would restrict ownership of 157 types of military-style assault weapons.

The National Rifle Association, as well as most Republican and some Democratic senators, oppose the bill, which Feinstein introduced in January, seven weeks after 20 children and six adults were shot and killed in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The background check bill approved Tuesday would apply to all gun sales, but it isn't likely to pass the full Senate, Politico said. Its sponsor, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would work with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. -- who generally opposes restrictions on gun ownership -- to lobby Republicans to line up behind a bipartisan version of the measure, Politico reported.

Before the committee voted on the background check bill, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, questioned whether the bill could be effective, The Washington Post reported.

"Why would anyone think that criminals would comply with broader background check requirements?" Grassley said.

Schumer said Republicans only use that argument on gun bills, never on legislation to combat terrorism or other criminal activity.

"We never see the argument, 'Oh, we shouldn't have laws, because the bad people will get around it anyway,'" Schumer said. "Only on this issue -- and it makes no sense, with due respect."

The bill to provide federal funding for school security was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and has support from GOP Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

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