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What’s Gun-Control Proponents’ Next Move After Sandy Hook?

Obama says he's game for "change," but stops short of elaborating. Congressional Dems are planning on pushing him.

by
Bridget Johnson

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December 17, 2012 - 5:50 pm
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“In a world that can at times be defined by its darkness, children are a reminder of what is good, cheerful and beautiful about life,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “An act of violence against these defenseless young people, as well as the faculty and staff who dedicate themselves daily to educating and caring for them, is a deed of unconscionable evil.”

“We have to deal with the mental health aspect. I think it’s fair game. I think we absolutely should talk about the intersection of a lethal weapon and it relates to — to mental health. Absolutely. We got to have that discussion in this country,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Sunday on ABC’s This Week.

“And we also have to deal with the new social ramifications of the bombardment and the immediacy of social interaction between violence, the realism that you find in games and movies. Some people, young people, as they’re making this transition from their teen years into adulthood, aren’t able to mentally make that transition. And there does need to be help,” Chaffetz continued. “But we’re also going to need to look to families and communities and churches. It’s not just a government solution.”

And even though Obama advocated unspecified change while speaking at the Newtown vigil Sunday night, spokesman Jay Carney today demurred about what concrete action might be coming.

“It’s a complex problem that will require a complex solution. No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem,” Carney said at today’s press briefing. “So I don’t have a specific agenda to announce to you today. I would simply point you to what the president said last night about moving forward in coming weeks. And I would look for him to do that.”

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers swarmed the airwaves with a gun-control message and sharper agenda.

“I think this is the straw that broke the camel’s back, to be very honest with you,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said today on PBS.

Feinstein was author of the assault weapons ban that was law for 10 years but hasn’t been renewed by Congress since its 2004 expiration. Multiple attempts at reauthorization over the years have been unsuccessful.

“I don’t see how Americans can want, you know, a situation where a 20-year-old gets a gun from his mother, kills his mother, goes into a school, shoots his way through the glass, goes in and puts three to 11 bullets in 6-year-olds, 20 of them,” she said. “…And I gather this particular Bushmaster, you can actually sort of dial down the ease with which you pull the trigger and its frequency. So you can just pump those bullets out in a very few seconds.”

Feinstein said she hadn’t yet had a chance to talk with Republicans to see if any have had a change of heart about helping her bill, but she did ring the White House to try for a call with Obama.

“I think the president now has an open mind,” she said. “…I want to work with members in this body, members in the other body, and try to see that, by the beginning of the year, we have got something where there is some very good support.”

She already has some backers in the House, with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) calling on the chamber to immediately pass a ban on all assault weapons and eliminate gun-show exemptions.

“This Congress must rise above partisan politics and now come together to pass these important gun safety laws,” Jackson Lee said. “The safety of America and its children should be at the forefront when it comes to making these gun safety laws. The politics of outside groups like the NRA should not play a factor when we consider the safety of our citizens.”

The National Rifle Association has been silent — both in its press shop and on social media — since the tragedy.

But one Democratic senator — and NRA member — advocated all-of-the-above gun-law discussions that include the gun lobby.

“I’m a proud member of the NRA and I’m a defender of the 2nd Amendment,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on CNN International today. “It’s more than just gun control they’re talking about. The NRA, first of all, needs to be at the table. They need to be sitting there and we need to be working through this and looking at what we can and should be doing in America.”

“The 2nd Amendment is very near and dear to us. And the people that are afraid, oh, now, if we start talking about this, you might take my 2nd Amendment rights away,” Manchin added. “Absolutely not.”

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Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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