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Rep. Mike Thompson pushes gun background-check legislation

In a move laden with election-year political implications, Rep. Mike Thompson announced Tuesday that he has more than 100 co-sponsors for a bill to expand background checks on gun buyers.

"We won't take 'no' for an answer when it comes to passing common-sense laws that keep guns from criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill," Thompson, D-St. Helena, said in a joint statement with Rep. Pete King, R-New York.

King is one of three Republicans on a list of 110 co-sponsors of the bill that is identical to the background checks measure defeated in the Senate two weeks ago.

If all 201 House Democrats backed the bill, it would still need 17 Republican votes for approval. But its failure could pay dividends for the Democrats in 2014.

The Thompson-King bill would require background checks for all firearms sales, including transactions at gun shows, over the Internet and by newspaper ads.

Huffman, who entered Congress in January representing the North Coast, rejected the ideas that the measure is dead in the Senate and stands little chance in a Republican-controlled House.

The 54 "yes" votes in the Senate, which fell short of the required 60 votes, is "a pretty good place to build on," Huffman said.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., said he intends to keep working on the bill, but his Republican co-sponsor, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, expressed no such interest.

Huffman pointed to polls that show "overwhelming support" for expanded background checks as reasons to press for a House vote on what he called "a narrow and sensible reform."

If the vote falls short, Huffman said it would be campaign fodder in the 2014 midterm elections.

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