Background checks bill clears committee after emotional hearing

By Amy Cherry 3:35pm, March 20, 2013 - Updated 5:55pm, March 20, 2013
The state House Judiciary Committee has voted to release a bill that expands criminal background checks to private gun sales.

Wednesday's vote comes after the committee resumed a public hearing on the bill--after they ran out of time last week, and for the second time in a week the House chamber was packed with supporters and opponents wishing to say their piece.

The Associated Press' Randall Chase covered.

"Unlike last week's hearing, today's testimony or public comments was fairly, evenly split between supporters and opponents, whereas last week only one person spoke in favor of the bill," says Chase.

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Chase says the two-hour hearing was full of controversy.

"People were very emotional about the issue on either side. Supporters say it's a common sense approach that will keep weapons from people who shouldn't have them, particularly convicted criminals ,prohibited from possessing firearms. Opponents believe it's just a knee-jerk reaction to the Connecticut school shootings in December and will do nothing to stop criminals from getting guns because they ignore gun laws now," says Chase.

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He says one piece of testimony wasn't more compelling than the other, it just depends on where you stand on the issue.

"Some people were concerned about infringements of the Constitutional right to bear arms; other people were concerned about this being perhaps, the first step towards a registry of gun owners," says Chase.

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Supporters say the measure will keep weapons out of the hands of convicted criminals.

The 7-4 vote in favor of the measure sends it to the House floor.

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