Harry Reid to Introduce Gun Control Bill with Universal Background Checks

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will introduce gun control legislation that would include a proposal for universal background checks.

Harry Reid demanded Thursday night that any bill that passes the Senate on gun control issue include broader background checks. Photo: Senate Democrats/Flickr

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that gun contron legislation will include a requirement for expanded background checks for gun buyers in a firearms control bill the Senate debates.

“Later tonight, I will start the process of bringing a bill to reduce gun violence to the Senate floor,” Reid said in a statement. “This bill will include the provisions on background checks, school safety and gun trafficking reported by the Judiciary Committee.”

“I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed. If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill. But I want to be clear: in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks.”

The news will inspire gun control supporters who were left despondent when Senate Majority Leader had announced the baseline bill would not include a ban on assault weapons.

That measure, which is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will be taken into consideration as an amendment, diminishing its chances of ending up in the final bill produced by the Senate.

As The Huffington Post adds, a provision that would ban the production and sale of high-capacity magazines will also become an amendment.

“The bill I advance tonight will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments,” Reid said.

“In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do,” he added.

The background check bill produced by the Senate Judiciary Committee will be used by Reid as a starter . That bill, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, includes a provision that requires records to be kept of all gun sales in the nation.

The provision had been a sticking point with Senate Republicans,who claimed that it would lead to a federal database of firearms owners.

Senate Majority Leader will provide senators with the opportunity to amend the language bill in order to keep open the option of securing GOP support.

Despite the battle gun control faces in Washington, supporters of reform have continued urging Congress to act. On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called congressional lawmakers for demonstrating courage on an issue that has growing support across the country.

“For all those who said we shouldn’t or couldn’t ban high-capacity magazines, I just ask them one question: Think about Newtown,” Biden said, referring to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

Recent polls showed that 84 percent of the nation support broader background checks.

On Thursday evening, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to keep pushing for universal background checks.

“This moves the ball forward on gun safety in the Senate,” he said. “We will continue our bipartisan negotiations on background checks over the next two weeks. We hope to have a compromise soon after the Senate returns.”

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