US gun safety measures face first votes

2013-03-07 22:13
(Picture: Supplied)

(Picture: Supplied)

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Washington - President Barack Obama's prospects for winning near-universal background checks for gun purchases seemed shaky on Thursday as Congress faced its first votes on curbing firearms since December's deadly shootings at a Connecticut school.

The shootings of 20 children ages 6 and 7 turned gun safety into a leading national issue, though many of Obama's proposals are opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and many Republicans who point to the Constitutional guarantee of the right to bear firearms.

The Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee had four bills on its agenda on Thursday.

Besides expanding background checks, the measures would ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines carrying more than 10 rounds, make gun trafficking and the purchase of firearms for people barred from owning them federal crimes, and provide more money for schools to buy video cameras and other safety equipment.

All four measures were expected to pass the committee.

But their fate when the full Senate considers them, probably in April, was less certain.

In addition, gun safety supporters say the Senate will have to approve legislation with strong bipartisan support to boost their chances of success in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Republican leaders there have said they won't act until the Senate produces legislation.

Expanding background checks is the cornerstone and most popular part of Obama's effort to rein gun violence.

They are now mandated only for sales by the nation's 55 000 federally licensed gun dealers, not for private sales between individuals, like those at gun shows or online.

An AP -GfK poll in January found 84% favoured requiring background checks at gun shows. Other proposed gun curbs were supported by just over half the public.

Read more on:    nra  |  barack obama  |  us  |  gun control

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