The House voted Wednesday to back Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's plan to shorten to one day the time the government keeps background-check records of gun buyers, delivering a setback to gun control advocates.
In the year's first major vote on the volatile issue of guns, lawmakers voted, 268 to 161, to reject a measure by Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) that would have required the FBI to keep the records for at least the 90 days currently mandated.
Ashcroft proposed truncating that period last month, arguing that the shorter period would still let the records be audited for fraud and abuse while better protecting the privacy of legal gun purchasers. The National Rifle Assn. has called Ashcroft's proposal a "step in the right direction."
The gun records are kept under an instant-check system set up by the so-called Brady Law, which is aimed at preventing felons, drug addicts and others from purchasing guns. The system electronically checks millions of law enforcement records while buyers wait to pick up their guns.