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Article updated: 1/25/2013 5:41 AM

Kirk working on bipartisan gun control bill

By Kerry Lester

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, newly returned to Congress after suffering a stroke, is becoming a central figure in the Senate's gun control debate.

An aide in Kirk's office has confirmed that the Highland Park Republican is working with two Democrats to draft bipartisan gun control legislation.

One of those is Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, with whom Kirk is working on legislation to crack down on gun trafficking.

"Proud to partner w/@Senator Kirk to introduce the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act next week -- common sense, bipartisan gun safety reform," Gillibrand, of New Brunswick, tweeted Thursday.

In addition, Kirk, a Republican, is working with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on finding "an amenable background check proposal" for people seeking to acquire guns, according to the staffer.

Since his induction to the Senate in November 2010, Kirk has become friends with Manchin and met for lunch with him weekly until January 2012, when Kirk suffered a stroke.

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, the senators' bipartisan proposals could be the beginning of significant debate and reform.

Kirk, a five-term congressman for the North suburban 10th District, was a Republican leader on gun control issues in the House. Until this week, however, his office was vague on his upcoming involvement in the national debate.

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