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%headline(Senate panel ready to OK gun background checks

Tuesday - 3/12/2013, 4:30am  ET

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats are ready to muscle expanded background checks and other gun curbs through a Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was meeting Tuesday to debate a bill broadening the requirement for federal background checks to nearly all firearms buyers. It also planned to consider banning assault weapons and boosting federal aid for school security.

Requiring near universal background checks was the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's plans for curbing guns that he proposed after the December mass shooting of elementary school students and staffers in Newtown, Conn.

Currently, background checks are required for sales by federally licensed gun dealers. Private transactions between individuals don't need the checks.

Leaders of the GOP-run House have expressed little interest in requiring background checks for private sales.

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