This week's In the News targets recent developments in federal gun control legislation. Last week, in a contentious and often contradictory debate, the Republican-led US Senate approved several gun control amendments adjoined to a juvenile crime bill chiefly sponsored by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah. Despite the ostensible Republican concessions on gun control policy in the wake of recent youth gun violence, Democrats did not support some of the measures because they believe them to be "riddled with high-caliber loopholes" exhorted by the powerful gun lobby. On Friday, the Senate voted 48-47 for an amendment that would require compulsory background checks of buyers at gun shows. Opponents cited various loopholes in the amendment, including provisions that decrease the wait for negative background checks at gun shows (a 24-hour deadline instead of the three-day limit required with other gun sales) and permit people to hock a gun at a pawnshop and reclaim it without a check. Other gun control amendments to the bill passed earlier last week include the restriction of access to semiautomatic assault weapons for juveniles and a ban on the importation of high-capacity ammunition clips. Today the Senate plans to vote on another amendment that would mandate licensed gun dealers to include a child safety lock with the sale of any handgun. The omnibus juvenile justice bill still has more than 80 amendments awaiting action, which presumably will be tabled at least until after Memorial Day, and ultimately may perish if the partisan bickering in the Senate over gun control policy cannot be resolved before they must move on to other business.


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