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Coats among backers of gun-crime prosecution measure

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., is among co-sponsors of legislation designed to beef up prosecution of gun crimes.

Coats joined GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill to announce the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act.

The legislation “focuses first and foremost on prosecuting violent criminals,” Cruz said in remarks broadcast by C-SPAN.

Coats called the proposal “the most sensible in terms of balancing the rights of law-abiding citizens and really going after those … who are violating (gun laws) and have found ways to bypass” background check checks for gun buyers.

The senators said their measure would increase federal prosecution of gun crimes, strengthen the database on background checks for gun buyers, encourage states to share mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and make federal crimes out of gun trafficking and “straw” purchases, where someone buys a gun for a person who cannot pass a background check.

Nineteen other Republican senators have co-sponsored the legislation.

The Senate is debating gun-legislation amendments Wednesday and is expected to start voting on them about 4 p.m.