The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Tuesday approved two measures aimed at strengthening gun control. The Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act [S 374 materials], approved by a vote of 10-8, would require background checks for private gun sales. The School Safety Enhancements Act [S 1460, approved by a vote of 14-4, would renew a grant to help schools improve their security programs. The bills will now go before the full Senate for a vote. The committee postponed a vote on an assault weapons ban. Last week the committee approved a bill [JURIST report] that would ban straw purchasing of weapons for someone who is not legally allowed to own one.
Gun control has been the center of attention since the Newtown, Connecticut shooting [WSJ backgrounder] in December. Last week US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] spoke before Congress [JURIST report] urging [text] them to pass gun control legislation. Earlier this month, the Maryland Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] that would make it harder to get a gun license. In mid-January, Obama signed 23 executive orders [JURIST report] intended to strengthen existing gun laws and urge Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The previous day New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] signed legislation [JURIST report] intended to impose tighter restrictions on gun and ammunition sales, banning any magazine that can hold more than seven rounds and implementing instant background checks on all ammunition purchases at the time of sale.