Divided Senate panel approves bill for near-universal gun background checks


A divided Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday narrowly approved a Democratic bill expanding required federal background checks for nearly all gun purchases, but put off immediate consideration of an assault weapons ban.

The panel approved the measure by 10-8, supported by all Democrats and opposed by every Republican. Expanded background checks is at the heart of President Obama’s proposals to curb firearms. The sponsor is Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer said the measure will reduce gun crimes, and said he hopes he can strike a compromise on the measure with Republicans, which would enhance the measure’s chances of passing in the full Senate.

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the panel, said he believes the measure will ultimately lead to a federal registry of gun owners — which is illegal. Schumer said that wouldn’t happen.

The committee also approved a measure providing $40 million a year for school safety programs.

The committee postponed until Thursday a vote on a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban assault weapons.


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