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Rep. Elijah Cummings seeks new curbs on straw gun buyers

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Rep. Elijah E. Cummings called on Congress on Tuesday to pass legislation aimed at stemming guns bought through straw purchases, vowing to fight for tighter gun-control laws until the day he dies.

Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said that the “vast majority of Americans” support legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and that President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden back a crackdown on gun trafficking and straw purchases for those not supposed to own weapons.

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“There are only two groups that should oppose this bill: criminals and people who want to buy guns for criminals,” Mr. Cummings said during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington.

Mr. Cummings is pushing for tougher penalties for taking part in a straw purchase, in which someone buys a gun illegally for someone else.

It is one element of a broader package of gun-control measures that Mr. Obama and Democrats are pushing on Capitol Hill, including expanding background checks for gun buyers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last month passed a bill that would make straw purchases a felony and provide tougher penalties for the crime.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the National Rife Association is looking to require a higher standard of proof that the straw purchaser knew the real buyer was prohibited from obtaining guns or knew that the buyer intended to commit a crime.

Mr. Cummings said Tuesday that that language would “water down” the proposal.

In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Cummings said that this is a “transformative moment” that is “pregnant with opportunity.”

He also said that first responders and law enforcement officials are all too often the victims of gun violence related to gun trafficking and straw purchases.

“That passion must, and will, I am thoroughly convinced, lead to change,” Mr. Cummings said. “We will not forget, we will fight and keep fighting for gun safety legislation, and I will fight for that legislation until I die.”

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