Gun-control drive to get first votes in US Congress

March 7, 2013 09:05

WASHINGTON - Less than three months after the Connecticut school shooting, a campaign to tighten US gun laws that is backed by US President Barack Obama will go to its first votes in Congress on Thursday when a US Senate panel meets.

The Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve the four bills that make up the gun-control package in voting over the next day or so.

That will sets up fights in the full Senate over a proposed ban on assault weapons and a plan to expand background checks on prospective gun buyers.

Wider background checks had been seen as one of the measures with most chance of success in Congress, but the push for this it has stumbled in recent days over a dispute about whether to keep records of private gun sales. Republicans fear such records would be a first step to a government register of gun owners.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said it was possible to reach an agreement with Democrats on background checks but there was a chance "we won't, and that will be a shame."

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