Bloomberg News

Democrats Vow Action on Gun Control in Wake of Newtown Shooting

December 16, 2012

Mourning Their Loss

Donna Soto (right), mother of Victoria Soto, the first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School who was shot and killed while protecting her students, mourns with her daughter Karly (second from right), daughter Jillian (far left) and son Matthew Soto (second from left), at a candlelight vigil at Stratford High School on December 15, 2012 in Stratford, Connecticut. Photographer: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Democrats and gun control advocates renewed their long-dormant push for limits on gun sales, promising hearings and bringing pressure on President Barack Obama to take a forceful stand on the subject.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, faulted Obama for failing to act on an assault weapons ban and other restrictions, while congressional Democrats promised hearings and legislation.

Bloomberg, co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, urged Congress to renew a 1994 ban on semi-automatic firearms that expired in 2004. He called for improved databases to trace gun ownership, stricter enforcement of gun trafficking and more laws to prevent sales to criminals.

“We don’t need people carrying guns in public places,'' Bloomberg said today on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’’ program. “That's not what the founding fathers had in mind. It doesn’t add to anybody’s safety. Quite the contrary, it makes us have a much more dangerous society.”

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Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said she’ll intensify her push to renew the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who heads the Judiciary Committee’s panel on the constitution and civil rights, said he will hold hearings.

Gun Law Commission

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who ran on a gun control platform as Vice President Al Gore’s Democratic running mate in the 2000 presidential election, called for a national commission to examine gun laws, the nation’s mental health system and violence in video games and other entertainment.

Twenty children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, last week. The 20-year-old shooter, Adam Lanza, killed himself at the school. Earlier, he had killed his mother, Nancy, at their nearby home.

It was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, after a 2007 rampage on the Blacksburg campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where 33 people died. Lanza used his mother’s legally purchased guns, including an assault rifle.

Lanza “shot his way into the building,” Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said on CNN's ``State of the Union'' program. “These are assault weapons. You don’t hunt deer with these things.”

The country needs to “find a way to limit these weapons that have only one purpose,” Malloy said.

‘Meaningful Action’

Hours after the Dec. 14 shooting, Obama called for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” He is scheduled to travel to Newtown later today.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Gore and Lieberman argued for “common-sense gun-safety measures,” a position that cost them rural votes and helped give Republican George W. Bush a narrow win.

Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday” he will hold hearings on the constitutional question of gun rights.

“Why would anyone, even Nancy Lanza, need a military assault weapon?” Durbin said.

Many Republicans and Democrats oppose limits on gun control, citing the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Allowing more Americans to carry weapons is one way to limit casualties in mass shootings, said Representative Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican.

Unarmed Victims

“Every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns were prohibited, except for one. They chose this place. They know no one will be armed,” Gohmert said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Asked if teachers should be armed, Gohmert said “I wish to God” Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung had had a weapon so she could have defended herself. “She takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said.

The Newtown shooting might be a tipping point for legislative action, said Pedro Segarra, mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, on ABC’s “This Week.”

“What we’re asking is for some balance,” Segarra said. “We do recognize our constitutional right to bear arms, but I think that this has gone to a point now that -- to afford some people with the ability of conducting these mass exterminations is just not what we want.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net; Kathleen Hunter in Washington at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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