By David Morgan
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate is poised on Thursday for a vote to advance a bipartisan gun control bill that supporters hope will help curb the mass shootings that have rocked the country, in what could be Congress's first new limits on guns in decades.
The 80-page Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would encourage states to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be dangerous and tighten background checks for would-be gun purchasers convicted of domestic violence or significant crimes as juveniles.
It does not include more sweeping gun control measure favored by Democrats including President Joe Biden such as a ban on assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines. Biden renewed calls for action following a pair of high-profile shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
The legislation will need support from 60 of the Senate's 100 lawmakers to overcome Thursday's procedural hurdle. With the chamber split 50-50, it will need the support of at least 10 Republicans to advance. Democrats were optimistic after 14 Republicans supported an initial step forward on Tuesday.
"Sixty-four members came together ... to move forward, an unmistakable sign of the broad support and momentum behind this bill," Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech on Wednesday.
If Thursday's vote succeeds, the bill would come up for a vote on passage that is expected no later than Friday.
Republicans who back the bill insist that it does not erode the rights of law-abiding gun owners, are among their most ardent constituents.
"It does not so much as touch the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners, who are law-abiding citizens of sound mind," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who backs the legislation.
But Republican supporters have faced criticism over the legislation, which is opposed by the National Rifle Association, the nation's biggest gun...