Schumer, Obama stump for gun control, but some in Hudson Valley wary
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The Obama administration and its allies are intensifying the campaign for tougher federal gun control laws this week as two senators work to hammer out a bipartisan compromise on background checks in Congress.
On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) appeared on the CBS TV show "Face the Nation" and later joined with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and victims of gun violence at a news conference to urge Congress to include universal background checks in any gun control measures. On Monday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a pro-gun control message in a speech at the University of Hartford campus in West Hartford.
Obama's address comes four days after Connecticut's General Assembly passed a stringent package of gun control legislation and less than four months after the Dec. 14 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
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In Washington, meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that Senate debate on gun control could start as early as Tuesday and that two lawmakers were working on a bipartisan deal to expand background checks to gun shows and online sales.
Still, some Hudson Valley gun advocates remained skeptical.
Rockland County Legis. Frank Sparaco (R-Valley Cottage), a critic of several provisions of New York State's SAFE Act, said he is "usually untrusting of any law" that tampers with the Constitution.
"Any time it comes to the Constitution, I'm usually pretty wary," he said. "These are inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the majority."
AP, quoting unnamed congressional aides, reported that Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat with an A rating from the National Rifle Association, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, could reach agreement on the background check deal early this week.
Current federal law exempts gun shows and online sales from background checks.
Twenty pupils and six staffers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 by a gunman who used high-capacity clips to fire 154 rounds. The Connecticut law requires background checks for all gun purchases, bans ammunition clips holding 10 or more bullets and requires owners of existing high-capacity clips to register them.
On "Face the Nation," Schumer urged Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republicans not to mount a filibuster to derail the gun control bill.
"There are a handful of senators, led by Sen. Cruz, who've said that want to filibuster and not even allow us to debate this bill," he said. "That would be very wrong. This is a big issue."