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Which gun control measures are gaining momentum in Congress? (+video)

Bipartisan support is evident for universal background checks, stricter laws against gun trafficking, and limits on high-capacity magazines. But consensus in the GOP-controlled House will depend on what the Senate accomplishes.

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Asked whether a ban on assault weapons would be included in the Senate’s package, Schumer side-stepped the issue. He noted that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California has introduced legislation to prohibit such military-style firearms and said that her bill will get a vote on the Senate floor.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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“Whether it’s part of our bill, we’ve been focusing on universal background checks, where I think there’s a greater chance to come to a bipartisan agreement,” said Schumer.

(Currently, federal law requires background checks only for customers of federally licensed firearm dealers. They aren’t required for private transactions, many of which occur at gun shows. Some states have more stringent check requirements of their own.)

Another gun provision the Senate might be able to pass is a new federal law against firearms trafficking. In essence, this would give prosecutors another way to go after those who legally purchase guns and then pass them to others who use them to commit crimes.

It’s also possible the Senate will at least seriously consider proposals to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey has introduced legislation that would ban any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.

“There is no place in our communities for military-style supersized magazines like those used inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Aurora, and in Tucson,” said Senator Lautenberg last month when he introduced the bill.

It’s important to remember that the Senate is but the first hurdle for any new gun curbs. They’d have to pass the GOP-controlled House, as well, where it’s less clear there’s any consensus for new measures.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, a key player in the issue on the Senate side, said over the weekend that it is his understanding that the House will just wait to see what the Senate does, and then decide upon its plan of action.

“They feel if we’re able to do something there might be a chance. If we’re unable, frankly, they’re not going to try anything at all. I think that’s a political reality,” Senator Leahy told NPR's "Weekend Edition" on Saturday.


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