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Battle lines drawn in gun-control fight

– Lawmakers kept up the renewed debate over the nation’s gun laws Sunday, with the Senate’s leading Republican arguing that the matter must wait until pressing fiscal issues are addressed in Congress and one Senate Democrat warning against “extreme” restrictions on guns.

“The biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

“That’s going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March. None of these issues, I think, will have the kind of priority that spending and debt are going to have over the next two or three months.”

An Obama administration task force led by Vice President Biden plans to offer recommendations this month on how to curb gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The working group is weighing measures broader and more comprehensive than simply reinstating the expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Other measures under consideration include regulations for universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools.

Freshman Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., expressed concern that the Obama administration is considering such a sweeping gun-control approach.

“That’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about. And it’s not going to pass,” Heitkamp said on “This Week.”

Heitkamp received an A rating from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun rights group.

Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”: “I’m a hunter, believe in Second Amendment rights. But you know what? I don’t need an assault weapon to shoot a duck. And I think they ought to be banned, and I think we need to put a ban on the amount of shells you can carry in a magazine and I think we have to strengthen our background checks.”

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