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Report: Senate may take up guns next month

Jan. 16, 2013 at 6:32 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate is likely to move gun control legislative proposals piecemeal, rather than comprehensively, possibly beginning next month, Politico reported.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday he was "committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year."

Reid had previously suggested the Senate might not take up an assault weapons ban -- proposed Wednesday by President Barack Obama -- because opposition by House Republicans made it unlikely such a ban would pass.

Politico said action in the Senate would be narrowly targeted and a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said House committees "will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."

Obama said he will "use whatever weight this office holds" to implement his proposals. Citing senior administration officials, Politico said the president will undertake a public campaign to build support for his proposals, and may take the campaign on the road.

Vice President Joe Biden told congressional Democrats Monday Obama's presidential campaign infrastructure is at the White House's disposal.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who has said he will not support tighter gun control legislation, said Wednesday Republicans will give "consideration" to Obama's proposals but he said "we must ensure that any proposed solutions will actually be meaningful in preventing the taking of innocent life and that they do not trample on the rights of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights," The Hill reported.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., who was elected to Congress largely on the gun-violence issue after her husband was killed in a 1993 massacre, said Obama is the first president "in almost 20 years" to show "very strong leadership on the need to reduce gun violence, including the need for better restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, the need for a better background check system, and the need to crack down on illegal gun trafficking."

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he would support an assault weapons ban but said it would "be tough" to get it before the House for a vote, The Hill reported.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., issued a statement calling Obama's executive orders and legislative proposals unconstitutional.

"The Second Amendment is non-negotiable," Huelskamp said. "The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama's disdain for the Second Amendment and the Constitution's limits on his power."

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told reporters the public supports the measures the president proposed and Congress is "the only place where this issue is a heated, partisan, political debate."

The National Rifle Association said Obama is "attacking firearms" while the National Education Association praised Obama's gun control proposals.

Within hours of the president's announcement Wednesday -- calling for universal background checks on gun buyers and a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines -- the NRA issued a statement saying it would "continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law."

"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation," the NRA said. "Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."

The statement said the NRA would work with Congress "on a bipartisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America's most valuable asset -- our children."

The proposals were announced at the White House nearly seven weeks after 20 students and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The NEA, the nation's largest teacher's union, praised Obama's proposal to fund more armed school resource officers, the liberal Talking Points Memo website reported, noting the endorsement came a day after the NEA rejected the NRA's suggestion to station armed guards at all U.S. schools.

"The school resource officer program is an actual program that was funded by Joe Biden's bill to put law enforcement, actual police officers, in schools, after they received adequate training," said NEA Director of Outreach and Advocacy Kim Anderson, adding the NRA proposal involves "untrained personnel who really don't understand how to work in a school setting."

In a joint statement, the Independent Film and Television Alliance, the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said they "supported the president's goal of reducing gun violence in this country."

House Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called Obama's plan "a major step forward to address the epidemic of gun violence that has plagued our country in recent years," referring to the points as "common-sense ideas supported by a majority of Americans and a majority of responsible gun owners."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Obama's proposals "an executive power grab that may please his political base but will not solve the problems at hand. He paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights but took actions that disregard the Second Amendment and the legislative process."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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