WASHINGTON DC, USA – A leading Democratic senator launched a bid on Sunday, December 16, to ban assault weapons in the wake of the latest deadly US school shooting, announcing that she will put a bill before Congress on January 3.
Dianne Feinstein, the influential chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she believed President Barack Obama would support her legislation, also aimed at outlawing magazines carrying more than 10 bullets.
“I’m going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” the California lawmaker told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
Feinstein said she would announce the authors of the House of Representatives’ bill soon and vowed that carefully crafted legislation would be tabled on the first day of the new Congress.
“There will be a bill,” she said, stressing the world “will.”
“It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession (of assault weapons). Not retroactively, but prospectively. It will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets,” she added.
Asked if Obama, who failed to take steps during his first term to tighten gun controls despite several high-profile shooting tragedies, would throw his support behind the measure, Feinstein replied: “I believe he will.”
Speaking at an emotional vigil in Newtown, Obama indicated on Sunday that he did plan to take action as he made an impassioned plea for “change” but stopped short of announcing any specific measures on gun control.
“We can’t accept events like this as routine,” the president said. “We as a nation are left with some hard questions. These tragedies have to end, and to end them we must change.”
Adam Lanza, 20, used his mother’s legally acquired Bushmaster .223 assault rifle to kill 26 people, including 20 children aged either six or seven, in Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Some of his tiny victims were riddled with as many as 11 bullets, spawning outrage among many in America at laws that allow guns only really suitable for warfare to be purchased legally by civilians.
As he waited for the vigil in Newtown to start, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman called for a national commission on violence.
“These events are happening more frequently, and I worry that if we don’t take a thoughtful look at them, we lose the hurt and the anger that we have now,” he said.
A federal ban on assault weapons, which took effect in 1994, expired in 2004 and efforts to revive it have failed. Obama supported restoring the law while running for president in 2008 but has not made it a priority since.
The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is well-funded and a powerful player in Washington. It argues that crazy people do crazy things and that clamping down on fundamental American liberties will achieve nothing.
Others point out that Anders Behring Breivik, for example, managed to kill 77 people in Norway, a country with far tighter gun laws than the United States.
Another commonly heard conservative argument is that guns are inevitable, so the only way to really protect people is to have more weapons in the hands of trained professionals, securing places like schools and shopping malls.
Gun control advocates recoil from such logic and say that regardless it must make sense to ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines. – Agence France-Presse