Washington, Dec. 20 (Reuters): The US Congress, prodded by the deadliest shooting rampage in modern American history, passed legislation today designed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
Without objection, the Senate and House of Representatives approved the measure, which would bolster background checks for gun buyers, and sent it to President George W. Bush to sign.
The measure would be the first major new gun-control law in more than a decade. It was drafted after a deranged gunman killed himself and 32 others in April at Virginia Tech university. The product of months of talks, the bill was finally agreed to as lawmakers prepared to wrap up their work for the year and head home for the holidays.
The 4 million-member National Rifle Association, which has helped stop numerous gun-control bills as one of the nations most powerful pro-gun lobbying groups, backed this one. This is good public policy, said an NRA spokesman.