March 7, 2013

Senate committee starting votes on curbing guns

Alan Fram / The Associated Press

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"Your contribution will help us keep the pressure on Judiciary Committee senators while ensuring the rest of them see our message" during Congress' recess late this month, she wrote.

NRA officials said they have urged their members, said to number more than 4 million, to contact lawmakers.

Democrats say background check records, whether kept by the individuals, manufacturers or others, are the only way to ensure that the checks are conducted for private sales. Coburn said such information could help create a federal registry of gun owners — something that is now illegal and the White House says would not happen.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., also have been involved in the background check negotiations and said in a joint statement that they would continue looking for a compromise with other senators.

"Dr. Coburn is still hopeful they can reach an agreement," Coburn spokesman John Hart said Wednesday.

Lacking an agreement with Coburn, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., planned to seek a vote by the Judiciary Committee on a bill resembling a measure he initially proposed two years ago. It would require background checks for nearly all gun sales, with narrow exemptions including transactions between close relatives. It would also cut federal aid for states that don't send enough mental health records to the federal background check network — a widespread problem that has fueled critics' complaints that the current system should be fixed before it is expanded.

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