US to see gun background check bill: senator

Updated: 2013-01-21 10:02


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WASHINGTON - Leading the charge for tougher gun laws after last month's massacre that killed 20 small children, US Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said Sunday that a bill for universal background checks is just around the corner.

"I am talking to pro-gun Democrats and Republicans. And I think you're going to the next week or two a proposal that has broad support for universal background checks," he said on NBC's Meet the Press.  

US to see gun background check bill: senator

US Senator Chuck Schumer speaks as US Senator Ted Cruz (R) looks on as they appear on "Meet the Press" in Washington, Jan 20, 2013. US Senate Democrats for the first time in more than three years will pass a budget, Schumer said on Sunday, fulfilling a basic task that Republicans have been urging them to do. [Photo/Agencies]

"I'd say this is the sweet spot. In terms of actually making us safer and having a good chance of passing, this is it," he said.

President Barack Obama laid out proposals including universal background checks to curb gun violence after the issue was thrust into the national spotlight last month when 20 six and seven-year-olds were killed by a gunman in the state of Connecticut.

Lawmakers aim to plug the gap that allows gun buyers to circumvent the national background check system. While those purchasing firearms from licensed gun dealers must submit to a criminal background check, many buyers can legally purchase guns person-to-person.  

Critics, however, contend Obama's package of gun law proposals are a partisan exploitation of December's school shooting spree.

"Within minutes of that horrible tragedy in Newtown, the president began trying to exploit that tragedy to push a gun- control agenda that is designed to appeal to partisans," said Republican Senator Ted Cruz on the same show. "It would have done zero to prevent the crime in Newtown."

He added that many gun-control proponents live in wealthy, well-guarded communities, and cautioned against denying the right to self-defense to a single woman living next to a crack house in a violent neighborhood.

Schumer agreed that Americans have the right to protect themselves with a firearm, but contended that there are limits, and that people do not need a hundred-round clip. Guns rights proponents argue criminals can possess dogged determination to harm their victims, and an eight-shot handgun may not stop a home invasion.

In response to the argument that that the majority of mass murders are committed by mentally troubled young men with no prior criminal record, and that new background check laws would do little to prevent another Newtown massacre, Schumer said: "these laws are not perfect, and you'll always find certain exceptions, but they make a huge difference."

Americans support tougher gun laws, with 53 percent saying they would want their representative in Congress to vote for Obama's proposals including tougher background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and stricter laws against gun traffickers. Forty-one percent say their representative should vote against them, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.

Conversely, 57 percent of Americans feel it is more important for the government to enforce existing gun control laws than to create new ones, according to a Rasmussen poll released Sunday.

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