Background checks focus on Capitol Hill

A vote to extend gun background checks could take place by Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A vote on extending background checks for gun sales at shows and on the Internet could take place as early as Wednesday. It's a measure victims of gun violence are hoping will happen.

"Our younger son, Ben, age six, was murdered in his first-grade classroom on December 14th, exactly 4 months ago this weekend," said Francine Wheeler, the mother of a Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victim.

She addressed the nation during the President's weekly radio address on Saturday. Francine and her husband David Wheeler pleaded to the public to support the gun reform.

This comes just one week after a bipartisan compromise to curb gun violence was introduced by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey. If it passes, background checks will extend to guns sales on both the Internet and at gun shows. It's a topic not favored by some gun rights advocates here in Jacksonville.

"None of the recent mass shootings would have been prevented by any of the proposals introduced to date," said attorney Eric Friday, the lead counsel for Florida Carry. "And we continue to oppose any expansion of gun control that would do nothing but burden law abiding citizens."

Some analysts said if the measure did come to a vote, it would likely be very close. While some key Republicans oppose the idea, others are warming up. This includes Senator John McCain from Arizona, who says he wants to know more about background checks for internet gun transactions.

"I've got to give them credit," said McCain. "And I want to look at it, but I'm very favorably disposed."

Guns rights advocates said the way to stop gun violence is to shift the conversation toward proper mental healthcare treatment, and make it about personal responsibility.

"The single biggest killer in American homes is the bathtub," said Friday. "Nobody is talking about banning bathtubs from homes. We just had 14 people stabbed at a college in Texas last week and nobody's talking about banning steak knives. It's not about the tool it's about the actions of individuals."

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