Supporters of gun control legislation hold candles during a
rally in front of the White House in Washington, after a
gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown,
Connecticut. REUTERS/Larry Downing
Several Democratic lawmakers have called for a new push
for US gun restrictions, including a ban on military-style
assault weapons, in the wake of the Connecticut massacre in
which 20 children and six adults were gunned down in a school.
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, the author of an
assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she would
introduce new legislation this week. Senator Dick Durbin, the
chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said lawmakers would hold hearings
on gun control, and several others said they would devote new
attention to the long-ignored issue.
"I think we could be at a tipping point ... where we might
get something done," Senator Charles Schumer, another top
Senate Democrat, said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
Any effort to restrict access to high-powered weapons is
likely to face fierce opposition from many Republicans in
Congress who say restrictions violate the US Constitution's
right to bear arms.
Gun control has been a low priority for most US politicians
due to the widespread popularity of guns in America and the
clout of the pro-gun National Rifle Association. Most
Republicans and many Democrats, including Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, are firm allies of the group.
Opinion polls have found Americans to be divided on the issue
even after other high-profile shooting incidents.
US lawmakers have not approved a major new gun law since
Feinstein said her planned legislation would outlaw the
high-capacity magazines and military-style assault rifles
that have factored in many recent mass shootings, including
Friday's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. People who own
such weapons now would not be required to give them up,
She said she would introduce her bill in the
Democratic-controlled Senate soon, and a companion bill would
be introduced in the Republican-controlled House of
Connecticut's Democratic governor and two senators, one a
Democrat and one an independent, voiced support for an
assault-weapons ban or restrictions on high-capacity
'AN ARMED PEOPLE'
A Republican lawmaker signaled ongoing opposition to gun
Asked on "Fox News Sunday" why Americans would need to own
semi-automatic weapons, Republican Representative Louie
Gohmert said, "Well, for the reason George Washington said: a
free people should be an armed people. It ensures against the
tyranny of the government, if they know that the biggest army
is the American people."
Gohmert added, "Once you start drawing the line, where do you
stop? ... Gun laws don't work."
President Barack Obama campaigned on gun control in 2008, but
he has expanded gun rights in his first four years in office,
signing legislation that would allow people to carry weapons
on Amtrak trains and in national parks.
He tearfully called for "meaningful action" to prevent
further tragedies on Friday, but the White House has declined
to say what measures he would support.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken gun-control
advocate, said Obama will have to make the issue a priority
to get any new laws enacted.
"It's time for the president, I think, to stand up and lead
and tell this country what we should do - not go to Congress
and say, 'What do you guys want to do?' This should be his
number one agenda," Bloomberg said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, who has met with families
of the victims of Friday's massacre, spoke of the need for
new gun control steps.
"These are assault weapons. You don't hunt deer with these
things. And I think that's the question that a lot of people
are going to have to resolve their own minds: Where should
this line get drawn?" Malloy added.