U.S. Markets closed

Highlights of Senate gun control legislation

The Associated Press

Map shows states with mandatory or partial background checks at gun shows

The Senate is debating legislation backed by President Barack Obama aimed at restricting guns in the wake of last December's elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn. Here are highlights:

—Background checks: Federal background checks are currently required only for guns purchased through licensed firearms dealers, who keep records. The bill would extend that requirement to nearly all buyers, with limited exceptions including transactions between close relatives and guns loaned briefly while hunting.

Next week, the Senate is expected to consider a less-restrictive bipartisan compromise that would require checks for for-profit sales, such as those at gun shows or online, with licensed dealers keeping records. Non-commercial transactions between individuals, such as people who know each other, would be exempted.

—Gun trafficking: The legislation would establish specific federal bans on firearm sales to criminals and on straw purchases, when a person legally buys a firearm but does so for someone forbidden to own one such as a criminal, someone with a serious mental illness or a drug abuser. Maximum sentences would be 25 years. Currently, firearms dealers can be prosecuted for making false statements on gun applications and can face 10-year penalties.

—School safety: The bill would renew a school safety grant program of $40 million annually, up from $30 million a year, with states required to match federal funds. The money could be used for steps including classroom locks, coordination with local law enforcement and security assessments.