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Senate Democrats Unveil Gun-Reform Plans

WASHINGTON (CN) - Outlining a plan to toughen U.S. gun laws in the wake of the community college shooting in Oregon last week, Senate Democrats spoke Thursday about more rigorous background checks and shutting down the illegal gun pipeline.

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., made the announcement this morning outside the steps of the Capitol.

With nary a Republican in sight at the press conference, the renewed push for gun reform comes less than a week after a rampage at Umpquah Community College in Roseburg, Ore., left 10 dead and seven injured.

"The time for regret and grief is over. The time for action is now," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said.

Representing Connecticut, which was home its own mass shooting three years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Blumenthal called for the United States to treat gun violence like a public health crisis.

"This epidemic must be met with a national campaign to ignite and activate the silent majority that are shocked and outraged by these mass shootings and killings, and say to Congress - you must act," Blumenthal said. "Inaction is inexcusable."

Echoing remarks President Barack Obama gave hours after the shooting, the senators said today marks the beginning of a public campaign to encourage Americans to demand responsible leadership on gun reform.

Blumenthal wants to close a loophole that would allow federally licensed firearms dealers to sell a gun to someone if the FBI does not notify the dealers within three business days whether the buyer has passed the background check.

Nearly 16,000 guns were sold to ineligible purchasers over the past five years because their background checks were not complete within three days, Blumenthal said.

Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston shooter who killed nine people in a church in June, was among them.

The senators said gun reform is not a partisan issue, and stressed a need for "common-sense ways" to respect Second Amendment rights, while keeping guns out of the hands of disturbed individuals.

The plan outlined today would expand background checks to include online and gun show sales.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., noted that the reforms would also expand the definition of a domestic abuser to include dating partners, and would prohibit convicted stalkers from obtaining guns.

Fifty-four percent of female murder victims reported stalking by an intimate partner before their stalkers killed them, according to statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime.

The senators asked for the American people to "rise up" and create a groundswell of support for their proposed gun reforms.

Schumer said the movement already has bipartisan support. He said lawmakers will introduce legislation on the Senate floor once the groundswell is reached.

"We have the ability to get a vote on this, and we will," Schumer said, promising that legislation will be introduced in the current Congress, either in this session or early in the next session.

The proposed reforms will also seek to federally criminalize the acts of straw purchasing - when someone buys a gun for someone who can't legally own one - and gun trafficking.

The recent shooting in Oregon marks the 45th school shooting in the U.S. this year.

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