News Column

Lawmakers Turn Talk to Gun Regulations

Dec 18,2012

By Jackie Kucinich, and Aamer Madhani

Gun Regulations

As an increasing number of lawmakers Monday joined the call for a broad national conversation on gun violence following the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, the White House proceeded cautiously in explaining how President Obama plans to tackle the issue.

Obama spoke passionately about the need to take decisive action during his remarks at a memorial service honoring the victims Sunday. But on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that tackling the issue is a "complex problem that will require a complex solution" and that the president would seek the input of lawmakers, law enforcement officials and mental health experts.

"I don't have a series of proposals to present to you," Carney told reporters. "It's a reflection of the tragedy in Newtown and its horrific nature that both elected officials and others are thinking broadly about ways we can move forward. That is a good thing."

Congress has not approved a major new gun law since 1994, and lawmakers let that assault-weapons ban enacted under President Clinton expire in 2004. But in the aftermath of Friday's shooting that left 28 people dead, including 20 children, there has been a significant shift in the political conversation.

On Monday, three pro-gun-rights Democratic senators -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Joe Manchin and Mark Warner -- said American gun laws need to be reviewed in light of the tragedy.

Reid, of Nevada, said in his remarks on the Senate floor that the reality is "we are not doing enough to protect our citizens."

"In the coming days and weeks, we will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow this violence to continue to grow," he said.

Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who received an 'A' rating from the National Rifle Association, said he would be open to a discussion on restricting assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, while Warner, D-Va., told a Virginia television station that "enough is enough."

The NRA has yet to comment on Friday's shooting.

Several lawmakers have suggested specific action. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she will introduce legislation that would restore the assault-weapons ban, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., has called for tougher background checks and a national commission on youth violence.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called for a blue-ribbon task force that would consider various factors contributing to such an incident, including mental health issues and the state of American culture.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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