On a Sunday capped by President Barack Obama’s emotional call for gun control, Democratic senators said they planned to push new legislation in response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre.
The horrific shooting, in which the majority of the slain were small children, has thrust the debate over gun ownership back into the public spotlight. Several lawmakers have now come forward insisting that inaction is no longer an option.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she planned to introduce a bill to prohibit assault weapons. The last assault weapon ban expired in 2004, and, although Obama has said he supports reinstating it, before Sunday night he had largely neglected the issue.
“I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” Feinstein said on the “Meet the Press.” “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession -- not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year.”
Speaking on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, continuing a string of recent shootings, has pushed the country to a “tipping point.” Schumer listed an assault weapons ban, limiting the number of bullets a clip can hold and making it more difficult for mentally unstable Americans to get guns as three areas where legislation could be effective.
“Once we establish that there is a constitutional right to bear arms, we should have the right to admit, and maybe [gun supporters] will be more willing to admit, that no amendment is absolute,” Schumer said.
Even conservative pro-gun Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia got on board, saying on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that powerful weapons capable of firing multiple rounds without reloading are unnecessary for most Americans.
“I dont know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle,” Manchin said on Monday. ”I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting.”
On the other side of the debate are gun advocates who say more widespread gun ownership could help prevent tragedies like Newtown. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said on “Fox News Sunday” that, had Sandy Hook’s principal had a gun, she may have stopped the killer.
“I wish to God she had an M4 in her office locked up, so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out, she takes him out,” Gohmert said.