gun laws

Congress Set to Consider Tighter Rules on Firearms

by JENNIFER STEINHAUER, The New York Times  |  published on February 25, 2013

After weeks of sometimes wrenching debate over gun safety, Congress will begin to consider legislation this week that is likely to include expanded background checks for gun buyers and increased penalties for those who purchase guns for criminals.

The best chance at legislative consensus appeared to rest in negotiations between Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, over a measure they have yet to introduce that would expand background checks to nearly all gun purchases. Currently about 40 percent of gun purchases do not require them.

While Mr. Schumer and Mr. Coburn remain tantalizingly close, Senate aides say, their talks have stalled over a provision that would require records to be kept of private gun sales.

Republicans and many Democrats in Congress have historically opposed curbs on gun ownership, but public pressure to enact legislation has increased substantially since the Connecticut school shooting in December that left 20 children dead. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are likely to signal their intentions at a hearing on proposed gun legislation on Thursday, offering a preview of how other lawmakers might vote. The bill-writing process will probably continue into next week.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has signaled that he would give ample floor time to a gun measure, despite his past opposition to bills he perceived as limiting gun rights.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said he wants to address gun violence while the memory of the elementary school massacre is still fresh. “I don’t think it’ll last long,” Mr. Leahy said about the window of opportunity in a recent radio interview.

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