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Senate Democrats Plead for Gun Control Debate in Wake of Newtown Shootings

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate floor Monday was filled with Democrats calling for a renewed debate on gun control in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
Sen. Menendez, D-N.J., called for Newtown to be the “turning point” to change laws and that there should be “no more excuses” or delay.
“Let us finally pass commonsense gun laws,” Menendez said, “We need a national debate about the role of firearms in our society and we need to address mental health issues and we need to act immediately. … These high-capacity clips must be outlawed. I don't believe that there's any reason why a law-abiding citizen would need the capability to shoot multiple rounds like a street sweeper.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., announced plans to reintroduce his high-capacity magazine ban legislation in January, which prohibits the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that have a capacity of, or could be readily converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
“In light of yet another horrific shooting tragedy, it is clearer than ever that there is no place in our communities for deadly high-capacity gun magazines and I will keep working to pass my bill to reinstate the ban on them,” Lautenberg said in a paper statement, “We must take immediate action to ban high-capacity gun magazines and assault weapons so that we can prevent the next massacre.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that too many in the Senate feel duty-bound by the NRA’s scorecard on this issue and he said he is “encouraged” by some of his colleagues -- like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va. -- who have spoken out Monday in support of limiting firearms in some capacity.
“What holds us back are political organizations that are well funded, organized and determined to resist even the most reasonable limitations. There is a close political parallel between the gridlock in Washington on dealing with our economy and national debt and the eerie silence in Congress as the list of horrific gun crimes grows by the day.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., added that there can be a way to move forward in the middle and called for the conversation to start now and without delay.
“I believe that you can be both pro-gun and pro-gun safety, just like you can be in favor of free speech but also against child pornography,” Schumer said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Monday that, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he will be holding a hearing very early in the next congressional session in the coming weeks to help in the search for understanding and answers.
“It’s not a matter just of guns, which is a significant part, of course. It’s a matter of mental illness. It’s a matter of how we run our educational facilities, all these things should be talked about. If there are practical, sensible and workable answers to prevent such unspeakable tragedies, we should make the effort to find them.”
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