Boxer: 'What is taking so long' for the Senate to pass gun-control reforms

Boxer criticized some of her Republican colleagues, lead by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for threatening to filibuster gun-control reform legislation that the Senate will likely start debating later this week.

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“The National Riffle Association has a right to their opinion, just as every senator does,” Boxer said. “But at some point we need to come together on commonsense legislation when 90 percent of the people support background checks. My God, what is taking so long for us to do that? 

“When 90 percent of the people agree with background checks, let’s embrace that idea. Who care who wrote the legislation, let’s protect those children.”

The Senate gun reform bill would expand background checks on gun purchases, create new penalties on straw purchases and include new funding for school security. Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for gun-control reforms even more since the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six school employees were killed by a gunman. 

The Senate bill doesn’t include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clip capacity — although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised to hold a vote on those provisions as an amendment. Boxer said she would support the assault weapons ban as an addition to the Senate package.

Republicans have expressed concern that extending background checks could create a federal registry of gun owners and make it harder for family members to transfer firearms. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are negotiating a possible adjustment to the background checks portion, to ensure gun sales between family members aren’t affected. Boxer said that she thinks Reid should advance the bill regardless of whether the deal is reached.

“I am hoping that Sen. Manchin and Toomey can come together because that would be a break through,” Boxer said. “But whether that agreement is forthcoming or not, we have to take up this bill. … We need to respond to 90 percent of the people otherwise I don’t know who we’re representing here. We cannot fail the test.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is also crafting his own gun violence bill as an alternative to the Democratic proposal.

President Obama has launched a public effort to rally support for gun control, visiting states that have enacted tougher laws and speaking with families of victims of gun violence. Some surviving family members of the Newtown killings are returning to Washington, D.C., with Obama on Air Force One Monday evening in order to persuade senators to take action this week.