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Gun control bill: GOP senators threaten filibuster

April 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The gun control debate gets personal: As the families of Newtown, Connecticut school-shooting victims lobby lawmakers, the Senate nears a key vote on White House efforts to toughen gun laws. The vote is expected Wednesday.

Families of the Connecticut shooting victims hope their emotional appeals will cut through the road-blocks of Washington. The biggest question Tuesday night is not whether their bill will pass, but whether there will ever be a vote on their bill at all.

Twenty first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, turning gun control into a top-tier national issue.

A group of victims' families are now walking the halls of Capitol Hill telling their stories to senators face to face. Eleven families in total are part of an aggressive effort to at least get expanded background checks on gun sales through the Senate.

The bill would expand required federal background checks to nearly all gun transactions, stiffen penalties for illegal firearms trafficking and provide a small boost in school safety aid.

A ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is unlikely to pass and unlikely to be a part of that final bill.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid says he's ready to call a vote on Thursday.

But Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will join 13 senators who say they will filibuster any bill that restricts 2nd Amendment rights.

"The one he had indicated he tried to move to clearly had no bipartisan support," said McConnell.

Several national polls show around 90 percent of Americans supporting universal background checks.

"The public is so far beyond where the Congress is, so far ahead of the way they're talking," said Vice President Joe Biden.

Some Republicans are expressing an openness to voting to end a possible filibuster and allow a vote on the background-check issue. Reid said he did not know if he had the 60 votes he will need to defeat the conservatives' roadblock. But at least eight Republicans have said they want to begin debate or have indicated a willingness to consider it: Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Susan Collins of Maine, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

But some moderate Democrats are remaining noncommittal and might oppose opening the gun debate, including Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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