Rep. Peter King speaks at Hofstra University in Hempstead on...

Rep. Peter King speaks at Hofstra University in Hempstead on March 22, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Rep. Peter King called universal background checks for gun owners "a life-and-death issue" on Tuesday and said attempts to filibuster gun control measures in the U.S. Senate would be "really denying democracy."

Echoing the stance taken by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), King (R-Seaford) said he can't understand why some Senate Republicans, led by Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, say they are willing to stage a filibuster to block even a vote on any bills.

"I support universal background checks," King said. In arguing against filibuster efforts, he said the issue of wider background checks deserves a public debate -- in part so the American people know where their representatives stand.

"It's such an important issue, no matter which side you're on, it deserves a debate," King said. "It's a serious issue, a life-and-death issue. . . . We're talking about a series of massacres, an increase in gun violence. But at the same time we're talking about a serious constitutional issue."

King introduced a bill on Feb. 14 to curb trafficking of firearms to people who cannot possess guns legally, and the bill was referred to a House Judiciary subcommittee on Monday.

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