Though the Assault Rifle Ban is no longer part of Congress’s proposed gun safety measures, in upcoming legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Democrats do intend to include stiffer penalties for gun trafficking, grants for school safety, and expanded federal background checks.
"I want to be clear: In order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks," Reid said in a written statement.
Reid said that during Congress' upcoming two-week recess, he hopes senators will strike a bipartisan compromise on broadening background checks. Otherwise he indicated the gun bill would include the stricter version expanding the system to virtually all private gun transactions with few exceptions, which was approved
this month by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Right now, background checks are required only of people buying guns from federally licensed dealers. The proposed legislation would require checks for people purchasing firearms at gun shows and online as well.
The background check system is designed to keep guns from criminals, people with serious mental problems, and others considered potentially dangerous.
There’s solid support outside Congress for the measure - a recent AP poll
found more than 8 in 10 people support closing the gun show loophole.
Opponents, including the National Rifle Association, say background checks are easily sidestepped by criminals and threaten creation of a government file on gun owners -- which is illegal under federal law.
"We remain as committed as we have been to opposing gun bans. History shows us that gun bans don't work to reduce crimes," said Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman.
When emotions were running high in response to late 2012’s Newtown shooting, which left 20 children dead, Obama’s administration made it clear that drafting gun safety policy would be a legislative priority.
However Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike include plenty of gun rights supporters-- or members supported by gun-rights groups.