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Md. Senate passes gun-control bill

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The Maryland Senate has passed a gun control bill that would ban certain assault weapons and require residents to obtain a permit before buying a handgun.

The Senate voted 28-19 in favor of the legislation on Thursday afternoon, sending it to the House where a pair of committees will hear testimony on the proposal Friday.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, proposed the bill in response to last year's mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. If passed, it would make Maryland's gun laws among the most strict in the nation by charging for license-to-buy permits, lowering the limit on magazine capacities and tightening restrictions on purchases by the mentally ill.

Twenty-eight of 35 Democratic senators voted in favor of the bill, after a lengthy debate on Wednesday and several hours of debate Thursday morning. All 12 Senate Republicans voted against the proposal.

The Senate voted Thursday morning to enact cloture — a process in which 60 percent of members can vote to end debate after a designated period of time. The chamber voted 29-18 in favor of cloture, the minimum number of votes needed.

The House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees will hold a joint hearing on the bill Friday afternoon. Floor debate is expected to begin next week.

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