Bipartisan Senate Gun Trafficking Plan Unveiled

Tuesday, 05 Mar 2013 09:46 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, has rolled out a new compromise plan — with bipartisan support — on gun trafficking, his office announced late Monday.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, also has the support of GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, according to Politico, giving the measure the kind of significant cross-aisle support on gun control efforts that other bills before the committee lack.

The panel is expected to consider the trafficking legislation on Thursday, along with larger bills dealing with a ban on military-style assault weapons and universal background checks.

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Leahy’s bill would make gun trafficking a felony, tighten laws for straw purchasers who buy guns and sell them to people who cannot legally own them, and punish the original seller in the illicit transaction, reported The Washington Times.

Even panel members who support the trafficking bill say they expect to see lots of amendments and a hard fight from GOP lawmakers as both sides seek compromises they can live with.

“There are honest differences of opinion between members on how best to stop gun violence,” a Grassley spokesperson told Politico. “Republicans will consider some amendments that they believe will actually curb gun violence without taking away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Until now, Senate action on gun control has been focused primarily on universal background checks, with Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma refusing to sign on to legislation pushed by Gillibrand and her fellow Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Chuck Schumer of New York. That proposed  bill would require background checks to ensure that gun-show retailers and private gun-sellers maintain sales records.

Schumer now plans to reintroduce a background check proposal without any GOP backers, Politico reported Tuesday. But without the approval of Coburn and his “A- rating” from the NRA, as Politico put it, it may not carry enough support to pass.

That may leave the trafficking bill as the only measure capable of getting out of the committee and onto the floor without major opposition.

According to Politico, Republicans led by Grassley are circulating about a dozen amendments they plan to introduce in committee. But in the end, the Democrats on the panel expect to have enough votes to move both the assault weapons ban and background check measures to the floor for a vote by the full Senate.

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