News Column

Virginia Lawmakers Vow Close Look at Obama Gun Proposals

January 17, 2013

David Ress

The Roanoke area's members of Congress promised to study President Barack Obama's proposals to curb gun violence, while Virginia's two U.S. senators applauded the measures.

"I'm a big defender of the Second Amendment, and I generally don't favor new gun control legislation," said Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem.

"But I reserve the right to look these over and see if there's merit."

Obama said he will ask Congress for legislation banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as requiring universal background checks of gun buyers.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, who is likely to play a critical role in his new position as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he expects House Republicans will consider the proposals carefully.

"However, good intentions do not necessarily make good laws, so as we investigate the causes and search for solutions, we must ensure that any proposed solutions will actually be meaningful in preventing the taking of innocent life and that they do not trample on the rights of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutionally guaranteed rights," Goodlatte said.

Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, promised Congress would work to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while protecting the Second Amendment rights of the law-abiding.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who as governor pushed for measures to boost mental health treatment and better oversight of gun sales after the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, said he was pleased the president proposed universal background checks.

"I've long advocated universal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole, to ensure weapons do not fall into the hands of dangerous individuals," Kaine said.

He said he was encouraged by proposals to increase security in schools, and strongly supported improvements to the mental health system.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., meanwhile, said Obama had outlined "a comprehensive, far-reaching proposal to address the issues of gun violence and public safety."

He said the proposals will get serious consideration in Congress.

"The Sandy Hook shootings compel all of us to think anew about these issues, and I believe the status quo is not acceptable. Some of the president's proposals are controversial, but there appears to be growing bipartisan consensus around improvements to the mental health system and broadening background checks," Warner said.

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Source: (c) 2013 The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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