Responding to Cruz, Heaphy, the U.S. attorney, said there are too many factors that influence crime to conclude that strict gun measures don't work.
Graham said that of 80,000 federal background checks for gun purchases turned down annually by the FBI, barely any result in prosecutions. He said the odds of being prosecuted for lying on a background check are "probably a whole lot less than being struck by lightning or hit by a meteor."
Democrats cited the 11,000 Americans killed annually by gunfire.
Daniel W. Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, which favors tighter gun control laws, said that 2004 data showed that nearly 8 in 10 prisoners who committed gun-related crimes got firearms from unlicensed private sellers, whose transactions do not require background checks. That, he said, underscored the need to expand those checks to all sales.
Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal Harvard Law School professor, said that 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court rulings made it clear that sweeping proposals to flatly take guns away from citizens "have been decisively taken off the table." Banning assault weapons and other especially lethal firearms would not violate the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, he said.
But conservative attorney Charles J. Cooper, who has long defended gun rights and represented the NRA, said the court's rulings ensure that bearing arms "is not to be treated as a second-class right, or singled out for special or unfavorable treatment."
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