Daily Video

April 9, 2013

Senate Bill Seeks to Expand Background Checks on Gun Sales

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Teachers: this video contains a 4-minute story followed by a discussion

The debate over gun control is heating up once again in the U.S. Senate, where lawmakers are debating whether to vote on a Democratic bill that would expand the federal background check requirement to nearly all gun purchases.

The current federal law that enforces background checks on gun purchases was part of the 1993 Brady Act, which requires prospective gun buyers to fill out a six-page form for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

However, in what is known as the “gun show loophole”, private gun sellers are not required to do background checks on their customers. This new bill would change that.

It is uncertain at the moment how the debate will play out. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined today with 13 Republicans who have vowed to block a vote on the Democrats’ bill unless it’s changed. They say that background checks may infringe on individual’s right to privacy in terms of mental health.

However, Vice President Joe Biden strongly urged the Senate to act, saying, “We have an obligation to try. We know, if we do the things we are talking about, we will all save lives. You have all seen the urgency of this issue. And you know what we have to do.”

Warm up questions

1. What is the Second Amendment?

2. What do you know about guns in the United States? Can anyone buy a gun?

3. What December event prompted the recent national conversation on guns?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think stricter gun laws would help prevent more gun deaths?

2. Why are gun laws so controversial in the United States?

3. What do you think can be done to prevent more shootings?

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