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Senate Approves Gun Restrictions

May 21, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Propelled by a shocking outbreak of school violence, the Senate passed legislation Thursday night to require the sale of safety devices with handguns and expand a system of background checks for firearms purchasers.

The vote was 73-25, and came a few hours after Vice President Al Gore eagerly broke a 50-50 tie in favor of a politically popular gun control amendment that most Republicans opposed.

Passage sent the measure to the House, where Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has signaled support for fresh restrictions on guns. Republican and Democratic leaders were discussing plans to bring the issue to the House floor as soon as mid-June.

``What we have seen today is for the first time in a major kind of gun control issue, rejection of the National Rifle Association and a vote for common sense,″ Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said as the bill neared final passage.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Democrats ``think gun control is a good political issue and that will solve everything. I say we got all these laws on the books that are already there″ that should be more strongly enforced.

A triumph by gun control advocates in the Republican-controlled Senate was improbable at best until the shootings in a Colorado high school a month ago caused a marked shift in public opinion. A shooting at an Atlanta-area high school earlier in the day gave fresh impetus to the bill.

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