Fla. Democrats: Background checks for all gun sales

Headline Goes Here Gregg Canes/CNN

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - There's a showdown forming at the state Capitol.

At high noon Wednesday, Florida Democrats took the first shot -- a bill requiring background checks before all gun sales.

"If you want to obtain a gun in Florida, you need to undergo a background check," said Rep. Lori Berman.

Sponsors of the bill say 40 percent of guns sold in the U.S. are sold without a criminal history or mental health check. Many of the sales take place online or at gun shows.

"We need to begin this discussion, and this discussion must begin today," said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Palm Beach County.

The legislation will be a tough sell at the state Capitol, where the House, Senate and governor's office are controlled by Republicans, and where the National Rifle Association is king.

Defending the Second Amendment is former NRA president and Tallahassee insider Marion Hammer.

"I think it's just more of government intrusion into our private lives," Hammer said. "Traditionally, people have been able to sell, give and lend firearms to friends and relatives."

Supporters of universal background checks say the bill is a step in the right direction.

"So this is one small step," Shelly Vanna said. "It's a responsible step. It is a very common sense step."

"This is not a first step. This is a second or third step to the ultimate goal of banning guns," Hammer said.

The bill's sponsors admit it's a tough sell, but say they've got to do something to try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, people with mental heath problems and veterans who've been dishonorably discharged.

Opponents of the bill say if a criminal wants a gun, they won't go through legal channels. They'll just buy one on the black market.

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