Disagreement on one of the nation’s most hotly debated topics, gun control, continued in Washington on Tuesday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill, via a 10-8 vote, that would require background checks on all gun purchases. However, the bill’s approval should not be mistaken as a sign of overwhelming support. Members of the committee voted strictly by party lines, with every GOP member voting against the bill. The complete lack of bipartisan support indicates that the bill’s chances of becoming a law are slim.
The bill, backed by Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), would extend legislation from the 1993 Brady Law, which created a national background check system for gun purchases. Specifically, the bill would close loopholes that currently allow unlicensed dealers to sell guns without performing a background check on buyers. Additionally, the bill would save these background checks, potentially creating a national database of gun owners.
The storage of background checks is one of the main points of disagreement between party members. GOP leaders fear a database of registered gun owners would allow the government to one day confiscate purchased guns. “When registration fails, then the next step is gun confiscation,” said Senate Judiciary Committee member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) at Tuesday’s hearing.
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Senator Schumer spoke in support of the bill on Tuesday, calling the lack of bipartisan support “sad.” “Right after Newton, there was a view that maybe the right place we could all come together on was background checks…All we’re doing is extending the success of the Brady Law to the areas it doesn’t cover,” Schumer said.
Prior to the vote, Schumer had been reaching out to senate Republicans John McCain (R- Arizona) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in hopes that the GOP senators would be open to supporting the bill. Once Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) voiced his disagreement over stored background checks, all bipartisan negotiations broke down.
If Schumer cannot create bipartisan support for the bill, it is highly unlikely the bill will receive the 60 votes needed to pass. The bill’s passage in the GOP-controlled House seems even more unlikely.
With support for the bill limited to Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could choose to move forward with other gun control proposals- such as gun trafficking bills- that have been more successful in attaining bipartisan support.
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The full senate will begin considering a package of gun-control laws early next month. Unless Schumer creates bipartisan support for his bill by that time, it is doubtful the bill will ever be passed into legislation.