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Gun control: inklings of a compromise in the Great Gun Debate (+video)

Amid a largely partisan standoff on gun control, there are signs of bipartisan support on issues such as gun trafficking and expanding background checks for gun sales.

The Senate Judiciary Committee assembled for the first Congressional gun control hearing. The first day of testimony between gun advocates and opponents was heated.
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If the Senate is going to pass legislation to prevent gun violence, the early returns are that elevating gun trafficking to a federal offense and expanded background checks for weapons sales are in – but a ban on assault weapons and limits on magazine capacity are likely out. 

That’s the upshot of Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Republicans argued against a proposed assault-weapons ban, while liberal lawmakers, largely avoiding the ban, focused instead on getting to "yes" on gun trafficking and background checks.

But amid a sea of criticism for President Obama' approach to gun regulation, there are already some signs of bipartisan cooperation, at least in the Senate. Whether any measures will be given a hearing in the GOP-controlled House, however, remains an open question because of little to no public appetite from House leadership to move gun legislation.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa, the committee’s top Republican, signaled he would be open to working with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the panel's chairman, to craft legislation on tougher penalties for weapons traffickers and for so-called straw purchases, where a legal gun purchaser obtains a weapon for those barred from gun ownership.

While Senator Leahy has introduced his own legislation on the subject, a separate but similar proposal from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York garnered the support of Sen. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois. 

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