Gun trafficking bill moves toward Senate vote

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The Senate is moving forward with its first piece of legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in America since the Obama administration announced its big legislative push this year, pushing a gun trafficking bill through committee in preparation for a full Senate vote.

The bill, which would outlaw "straw purchasing" - wherein one person buys a gun for someone who isn't legally eligible to do so him or herself - advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday with the support of Democrats and one Republican, the co-sponsor, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Now it will proceed to the Senate for a full vote.

"The practice of straw purchasing firearms is undertaken for one reason--to get a gun into the hands of someone who is prohibited from having one," Leahy said at the Committee's executive business meeting. "We know that many guns used in criminal activities are acquired through straw purchases. We need a meaningful solution to this serious problem."

The legislation is just the first piece in a comprehensive package of measures the White House proposed this year to curb gun violence nationwide. The Senate is also expected to consider an assault weapons ban, a bill mandating universal background checks, and increased access to research on the subject. But it's unclear how any of these proposals - including the gun trafficking bill - will fare in either the House or Senate in the face of Republican opposition.

Nevertheless, the president, who has recently embarked on a charm offensive aimed at building up a rapport with some of his Republican opponents, thanked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking "another big step toward sensible gun safety reforms."