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April 15th, 2013

Gun Buyers Face Greater Scrutiny in Senate Bill


Families of the first graders killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut are in Washington, D.C. this week calling on Congress to pass new laws aimed at preventing another tragedy.


Amongst the public outcry following the Newtown massacre, were demands for a ban on the sale of rapid-firing assault weapons, limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines, expanded background checks, a crackdown on gun trafficking, and improvements to school safety.

Gun control, proposals aimed at restricting or limiting firearm possession and production, is a hotly contested topic within the halls of Congress and around the country.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania announced yesterday that they have agreed on a deal to expand background checks for potential gun buyers. A preliminary vote on the amendment to new gun legislation will be held today in the Senate.

Proposed law would improve background checks, but doesn’t address “assault weapons”

The latest proposal expands criminal background checks, closes loopholes for sales made at gun shows and online, and requires all sellers to keep a record of the transactions. The measure also increases funding for school security and puts tighter restrictions on gun trafficking. However, sales among friends or family members would remain exempt from the new law.

When a seller performs a background check, they must call into the FBI or another designated agency to ensure customers do not have a criminal history or are otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. In a proposal put forth by President Obama in January, he said:

“Nobody is talking about creating an entirely new system. We are simply talking about plugging holes, sealing a porous system that isn’t working as well as it should. If you want to buy a gun, whether it’s from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to pass a background check to show you’re not a criminal or someone legally prohibited from buying one. And that’s just common sense.”

The new amendment to the bill is not an all-encompassing reform of gun control, but for families of shooting victims, and gun control advocates, it’s a step in the right direction.

“I want to thank Senators Manchin and Toomey for their determination to find common ground on a bill that Democrats and Republicans can fully support,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“This bill will not only help keep guns out of the wrong hands–it will help save lives and keep our communities safe.”

NRA says background checks won’t solve crime

However, guns rights advocates were less than happy with the agreement.

“Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools,” said the National Rifle Association (NRA) in a statement. “The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson.”

While the bill is expected to be passed in the Democrat-held Senate in the coming weeks, it will face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Politicians tweet their support and opposition to new gun legislation

In order to garner popular support for their positions, politicians have taken to the internet to bring awareness to their positions. Here is a collection of tweets from the president’s twitter feed, then tweets from gun rights advocates:





Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)


Graphic by DPCC

Statement released by National Rifle Association today:

“Fairfax, Va. – Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools. While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg’s “universal” background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows. The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson…”

— Compiled by Mallory Sofastaii for NewsHour Extra

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