U.S. Senate Rejects Expanded Gun Background Checks as Del. Committee Gives OK
WASHINGTON (AP/WBOC)- The US Senate has rejected a bipartisan effort to expand federal background checks to more firearms buyers in a crucial showdown over gun control.
Wednesday's vote was a jarring blow to the drive to curb firearms sparked by December's massacre of children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. President Barack Obama made broadened background checks the centerpiece of his gun control proposals.
The roll call was also a victory for the National Rifle Association, which opposed the plan as an ineffective infringement on gun rights.
The proposal would have required background checks for all transactions at gun shows and online. Currently they must occur for sales handled by licensed gun dealers.
The system is designed to keep criminals and people with mental problems from getting guns.
The Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday heard a bill that would expand the gun purchase background check system in the First State. And one of the country's most vocal gun control advocates was on hand to testify.
Senators heard from Ret. Capt. Mark Kelly Wednesday afternoon. Kelly is the husband of former Arizona US Rep. Gabby Giffords. Giffords was severely injured in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. Kelly voiced his support, along with that of his wife, for expanded background checks. He called it a common sense measure that will make Delaware safer.
"Criminals and the dangerously mentally ill should be prevented from buying a gun without a background check," he said.
Just before he testified about one hundred people rallied outside legislative hall against the bill. They believe the bill will unfairly affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals. And they were unimpressed by Kelly's visit.
"I think they're using him," said Theresa Garcia, executive director of 9-12 Delaware Patriots. "We don't need to bring the big guns in to explain our position. We the people are telling them our position. They can bring whoever they want in, but it doesn't make any difference to us."
The Judiciary Committee gave its approval to the bill. It's on the full Senate's agenda for Thursday. The House already OK'd the bill late last month.
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