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Barack Obama
Expanded background checks is the heart of President Barack Obama's proposals to curb firearms. / AP, file

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WASHINGTON — A divided Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a Democratic bill expanding required federal background checks for nearly all gun purchases.

The panel approved the measure by 10-8, supported by all Democrats and opposed by every Republican. Expanded background checks is the heart of President Barack Obama’s proposals to curb firearms.

» Video: Mark Kelly buys assault weapon to make a point

The sponsor is New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.

He says the measure will reduce gun crimes. He also said he hopes he can strike a compromise on the measure with Republicans, which will enhance its chances of passing in the full Senate.

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley is the top Republican on the panel. He says he believes the measure will ultimately lead to a federal registry of gun owners — which is illegal.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports