The Senate Judiciary Committee was expected to take up several gun control measures today and mark up final legislation. The Committee, however, has put off action for at least a week. The principal reason for the delay is to allow more talks on a possible compromise over the issue of background checks.
For the past several weeks, Sens. Schumer, Manchin, Coburn and Kirk worked to finalize a bi-partisan compromise to expand background checks on private gun sales. The chief obstacle to a deal is the question of giving federal authorities the ability to collect records of private gun sales. Conservatives fear that such a provision would inevitably lead to a national database of guns and their owners.
The other measures to be considered include increased safety grants to schools and steps to curtail “straw man” purchases of guns. The major proposal, however, is Sen. Feinstein’s ban on assault weapons.
Democrats hold a 10-8 advantage in the committee, making it likely the gun ban will move to the full Senate. The vote, however, could be a suprise. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who has cast doubt on the efficacy of a gun ban, is up for reelection next year. Minnesota has a large number of pro-gun voters, so he may vote against the Feinstein bill in committee. If the bill is approved by committee, tt does not have enough support to pass the Senate.