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Calls for Gun Control After Newtown Shooting

gun-barrel-2-bgDiscussions of gun control follow the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 15.

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WASHINGTON – An assault weapons ban will not be included in a package of gun safety legislation that will come to the Senate floor, the measure’s champion, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Tuesday.

The California Democrat said her party’s leaders told her that her legislation, approved last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee in a party-line vote, could be offered as an amendment to the larger bill.

Feinstein expressed disappointment that her attempt to revive the 1994 ban was dropped to clear the way for other measures. “I very much regret it. I tried my best. But my best, I guess, wasn’t good enough,” Feinstein said before heading into the Senate Democrats’ strategy luncheon.

Feinstein’s bill would prohibit the sale, import and manufacture of more than 150 weapons and ban ammunition magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.  People who already legally own assault weapons – 3.5 million to 4 million, by one estimate – would be allowed to keep them. Sale of existing weapons would require buyers to undergo background checks.

Spurred by the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Senate Judiciary Committee passed four gun bills. In addition to Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, the committee moved bills to expand background checks for gun buyers, crack down on gun trafficking and allocate money to improve school safety. The assault weapons ban was always seen as the most politically challenging of the recommendations produced by the Obama administration.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was taking a pragmatic view of which measures could attract the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate and move to the House. “Her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has 40 votes,” he said.

The other three bills will be rolled into one bill, which could put pressure on Republicans and conservative Democrats to get on board. That bill has not been crafted yet, because senators are waiting on a possible bipartisan compromise on the background check measure.

On the floor, senators would probably have a chance to vote on an amendment that would add both a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and then on another amendment that would add just the limits on magazine size.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who opposes stricter gun control, said he was not surprised Reid would drop the assault weapons ban, saying it was “primarily focused on cosmetics, not on function.”

“I also think as a political matter that Sen. Reid’s loath to have a bunch of red-state Democrats running in [2014] have to vote on that. That explains the strategy,” Cornyn, a former chairman of the Senate Republican campaign committee, said.

Feinstein vowed not to give up, even floating – but immediately dismissing – the idea of placing a hold on a broader gun bill that doesn’t include the assault weapons ban. She blamed her bill’s troubles in part on the political and financial power of the main gun lobby, the National Rifle Assn.

“America has to stand up,” she said. “I can’t fight the NRA. The NRA spends unlimited sums, backed by the gun manufacturers, who are craven in my view. And I don’t know what else to do other than the best we can in drafting a bill in asking for support and in enabling something to pass in the Senate.”

Los Angeles Times

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KTLA) — Record crowds were reported at the two-day Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Costa Mesa over the weekend.

Crowds lined up at the Orange County Fairgrounds starting at 3 a.m. on Saturday, the first day of the show.

Organizers said they expected a record two-day total of some 25,000 visitors to the event.

It was so successful on Saturday that vendors decided to stop selling ammunition at 3:30 p.m. to avoid running out for Sunday.

Much of the interest in the show was connected to gun enthusiasts’ fears that suggested legislation in Washington could directly impact and curtail gun ownership.

President Obama’s recent gun task force, spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, includes proposals to reinstate a previous assault weapons ban.

Also being discussed is a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as more stringent background checks for potential gun owners.

The hot-button issue brought prospective buyers like Scott Jones of Highland to the gun show in Costa Mesa.

“I’m a little concerned that they may regulate it too much,” Jones said.

WASHINGTON D.C. (CNN) — Thousands marched on the nation’s capital Saturday — in a rally that found its beginnings on Facebook — demanding tougher gun control laws from Washington.

Demonstrators are calling for a federal ban on assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines.

They are also asking Congress to require universal background checks for gun sales.

Earlier this week, California Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a bill that would ban some assault weapons.

This weekend’s march marks the first major demonstration in Washington since the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Washington (CNN) – Despite supporters’ hopes that this time it’s different, President Barack Obama’s new call for restricting some semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines will face deeply entrenched resistance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and could be a long shot even in the Democratic-led Senate.

Any gun legislation sent to the House “is going to have to pass with most Democrats and a few Republicans,” said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. “This would be an even more high-profile bill.”

And Obama’s call for Congress to robama-signs-piceinstate the federal ban on military-style rifles that expired in 2004 “is a further reach than some of the other proposals that are being tossed around,” Gonzales said.

“There is no way that it is going to pass with a majority of Republican support,” he said. “That is just the reality of the situation. It is going to take virtually all the Democrats, and all the Democrats won’t vote for that.”

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden laid out a package of measures aimed at reducing gun violence Wednesday, just over a month after the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

The killings of 26 people there followed a July rampage in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 dead and the August attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed another six.

“The world has changed, and it’s demanding action,” said Biden, who led a White House task force on gun violence after the Connecticut slayings.

But before the announcement, local officials in at least three states vowed to resist any new gun controls.

And Second Amendment fans have poured out their vituperation online, some floridly warning of a power grab by the Obama administration.

Texas state Rep. Steve Toth told CNN on Wednesday that he’ll introduce legislation that would make it illegal to enforce a federal gun ban.

“We’re going to do everything we can to call people back to the belief and the understanding that we’re a constitutional republic and that our rights do not come from Congress,” he said. “Our rights come from God and are enumerated in the Constitution.”

And in a video that spread virally across the Internet, the head of a Tennessee gun training and accessory company warned “all you patriots” to “get ready to fight” if the Obama administration took steps to restrict firearms.

“I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I’m not letting anybody take my guns. If it goes one inch further, I’m gonna start killing people,” Tactical Response CEO James Yeager vowed.

In a later video, in which he’s accompanied by his attorney, Yeager apologized “for letting my anger get the better of me” and cautioned viewers, “It’s not time for any type of violent action.”

Obama on Wednesday signed 23 orders that don’t require congressional approval that he said would stiffen background checks on gun buyers and expand safety programs in schools.

And he called on Congress to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds and to require a background check for anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale or gun show.

The steps that require legislative action are likely to bump up against the often-visceral opposition of lawmakers from conservative districts — and some of their more outspoken constituents.

Most Republicans in the House of Representatives have top rankings from the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun-rights lobby, which quickly criticized the White House plans.

But it’s not just Republicans: Many Democrats, particularly in the conservative South and rural West, are vocal gun-rights supporters as well.

“Guns have been one of the key issues that more moderate Democrats have used to express their independence from the Democratic Party, and this gun talk is putting a strain on that independence,” Gonzales said.

Though they might be willing to support proposals such as a ban on large-capacity magazines, they’re unlikely to vote to ban “an actual gun,” he said.

“You can just see the ads — ‘They are taking guns away’ — where with these other items it is different,” Gonzales said.

Even in the Senate, where Democrats control the chamber, Democratic leadership sources told CNN that passing any new legislation will be extremely difficult.

More than a dozen vulnerable Democrats from conservative states will likely resist much of what the president is pushing, the sources said.

Those sources say they have no intention of putting their members in politically vulnerable position on a gun measure unless they are sure it can reach the president’s desk.

That means not only getting enough red-state Democrats on board, but getting enough Republicans to break a possible GOP filibuster.

But Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, said the tide appears to have shifted in favor of gun control after the Connecticut killings.

A CNN/Time magazine/ORC International poll released Wednesday found 55% of Americans generally favor stricter gun control laws, with 56% saying that it’s currently too easy to buy guns in this country — but only 39% say that stricter gun controls would reduce gun violence all by themselves.

McCarthy said Senate approval “might even give some members of Congress the spine to do the right thing.”

“You know, the NRA is not in line with an awful lot of their members, and that is something we’re counting on to go forward,” said McCarthy, whose husband was among the six killed when a deranged gunman opened fire on a Long Island commuter train in 1993

December’s killings have “gone to the heart of every mother, father, grandparent thinking about their children, grandchildren. We have to do something,” she added.

President Obama launched a sweeping gun control overhaul on Wednesday. Carolyn Costello has more on the new restrictions.

Critics say the president is abusing his power bypassing congress and ignoring the 2nd amendment of the constitution.

Nevertheless, he has taken 23 executive actions, all dealing with gun control.

Demanding that congress do thier part.

Backed by children who wrote him letters calling for change, President Obama outlined 23 executive orders on gun control he believes he can implement now without congressional approval.

  • They include allowing a government crack down on gun crimes by tracking stolen guns, and prosecuting people who use them.
  • Improve background checks with more mental health reporting and information sharing.
  • Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and safes
  • Upping school safety resources

The president is also calling on congress to pass legislation to ban military style assault weapons, armor piercing bullets, ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and stricter gun trafficking laws.

But getting that legislation passed,  even in the democrat controlled senate: easier said than done.

“The numbers around the country- most people favor having the ability of people to carry guns.  The American people want us to be very cautious about this,” Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader.

Reid from Nevada is a gun owner,  but his reluctance is due to a political reality.  Some half a dozen senate democrats up for reelection next year represent pro gun states. Support for gun control puts them in the cross hairs of the NRA.

For the now the NRA is targeting President Obama with a just released TV commercial, calling him an “elitist hypocrite” for being skeptical of the NRA’s call for armed guards in schools,  while his 2 daughters are protected by the Secret Service.

And attend a private school with 11 armed guards.

“The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.  I will put everything I’ve got into this and so will Joe but I tell ya, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” Obama says.

Proposed executive actions:

  • Crack down on gun crimes
  • Improve background checks/mental health reporting.
  • Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and safes
  • School safety resources

Proposed congressional actions

  • Ban military style assault weapons
  • Ban armor piercing bullets
  • Ban large ammunition magazines
  • Stricter gun trafficking laws
  • More cops on the street

–Glen Walker

MONTEBELLO, Calif. (KTLA) — Gun sales have already been soaring, but the president’s gun control proposals may spark even more of a buying spree.

Gun enthusiasts at the Firearms Training Academy in Montebello believe the president’s comments may trigger another spike in sales.

Gun owners there are concerned that the president’s sweeping proposals may wind up infringing on the second amendment and an honest citizens right to bear arms.

Instructors at the training academy say California already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and the president’s proposals mainly replicate what California already has on the books.

Banning military style assault weapons, limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and requiring background checks on all gun sales except private sales, which instructors say is optional in California, but should also be mandatory, might add another hurdle to guns getting into the hands of the wrong people.

California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says “The president’s proposals are either duplicative, thus unnecessary, or focus the government’s authority and power on controlling honest citizens rather than making it more likely to disarm criminals. Background checks have value but care needs to be taken that they do not violate the rights of law abiding citizens.”

WASHINGTON (CNN) — It was the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that spurred the creation of a federal task force on gun violence, but the headlines since then have shown that the issue stretches beyond any single incident.

The work of the task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, comes at a time when the debate over guns is everywhere.

“I’ve never quite seen anything that has shocked the consciousness of the American people like 6- and 7-year-old kids being riddled with bullets in a classroom, … in an area that was considered to be immune to this kind of behavior and had done everything that seemed logical … to protect children in that school,” Biden said Friday.

On the same day that Biden shared some of the recommendations he is likely to make to the president, another school shooting occurred, this one in California. The incident left one student in critical condition.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, a judge ordered James Holmes to stand trial for his role in the movie theater shooting that left 12 people dead and scores injured. Holmes is charged with 166 counts including murder, attempted murder and other charges in the July 20 shooting rampage.

The conversations that the task force is having with stakeholders on all sides — including the National Rifle Association — parallel the debates happening at dinner tables and on Facebook news feeds.

That the issue of gun violence has so galvanized the public means that the the task force’s recommendations will be in the spotlight, as will whatever President Barack Obama chooses to do with them.

Biden on Friday met with representatives from the video game industry, the makers of violent games that some blame for incidents of gun violence. The vice president and the other attendees were joined by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

“We know there is no single answer and, quite frankly, we don’t even know whether some of the things people think impact on this (gun violence) actually impact on it or not,” Biden said just before the meeting, stressing that video game industry officials are among “a whole lot of people” participating in the discussion.

Obama called for the task force after last month’s mass shooting in Newtown in which 27 people were killed — 20 of them elementary school children.

There was no immediate indication as to what specifically was discussed at Friday’s meeting.

But about 400 miles away, in Massachusetts, action has been taken against violent video games. Specifically, the operators of four rest stops have removed — at the state’s request — all arcade games with guns or “shooting components,” said Sara Lavoie, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation.

This action followed a letter to state officials from a couple who, driving back to Boston on Christmas Eve, noticed a “young man pointing a life-sized machine gun” at a video game inside the Massachusetts Turnpike’s plaza in Charlton, about 100 miles from Newtown.

“We don’t believe that violent video games are the singular cause of mass shootings,” Tracey and Andrew Hyams wrote. “But games with realistic-looking and sounding plastic assault weapons, which likely desensitize players to the realities of mass destruction, have no place in state-sponsored highway rest stops.”

What happens in Washington, meanwhile, remains to be seen. This week Biden revealed several groups have encouraged one policy change: universal background checks for all gun buyers, including those who purchase through private sales.

Some states have backlogs of thousands of felons who are never registered on lists aimed at helping prevent dangerous weapons from getting into their hands, he noted.

The Obama administration will try to pass an assault weapons ban, an administration official said Friday. Biden has not mentioned such a proposal in public so far, but that does not mean it is off the table, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

“The president has been clear that Congress should reinstate the assault weapons ban and that avoiding this issue just because it’s been politically difficult in the past is not an option,” he said.

The NRA expressed disappointment with a White House task force meeting Thursday, saying it expected mental health, the “marketing of violence to our kids” and school safety to be major topics.

“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment,” the group said, claiming that the meeting focused largely on placing “restrictions on lawful firearms owners.”

CNN has learned the NRA will soon start an ad campaign to help mount its opposition to possible new gun restrictions.

Since the shooting in Newtown last month, the organization has added 100,000 new members, bringing its total membership to 4.2 million, NRA officials told CNN.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Friday that his office is asking legislators to consider state funding to train school staffers to carry firearms on campus, which is one NRA initiative.

And in one show of support for gun rights, one group is calling for a Gun Appreciation Day on January 19. On its website, the group asks Americans to “go to your local gun store, gun range or gun show with your Constitution, American flags and your ‘Hands off my Guns’ sign to send a loud and clear message.”

Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, says the event is a response to gun control laws being proposed in the current session of Congress, such as the assault weapons ban touted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and backed by Obama.

But some find the event’s timing offensive, as it comes just two days before the president’s inauguration and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“There is selfish, self-serving intent in a Gun Appreciation Day,” said Maria Roach, whose group United for Change USA began a petition against the event. Groups calling on people to show off their guns “are really focused on theater, and not solutions,” she said.

WASHINGTON — A federal task force looking for ways to curb gun violence will have a set of recommendations by Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday.

Speaking during a week of meetings with disparate groups on various sides of the issue — including some for and others against stricter gun controls — Biden, who oversees the task force, said the recommendations to be given to President Barack Obama will serve as a beginning.

“This doesn’t mean it is the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act,” he told reporters.

Biden said he’s been surprised by how many groups have encouraged universal background checks for all gun owners, including those who purchase through private sales.

Some states have backlogs of thousands of felons who are never registered on lists aimed at helping prevent dangerous weapons from getting into their hands, he noted.

The National Rifle Association said it was “disappointed” with a White House task force meeting Thursday, arguing it expected mental health, the “marketing of violence to our kids” and school safety to be top topics.

“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment,” the group said in a statement. “While claiming that no policy proposals would be prejudged, this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.”

The group indicated it will now concentrate its efforts through members of Congress.

NRA President David Keene told CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” little common ground was found. An exception was possible agreement to place “potentially violent” mentally ill people on a national database of those not allowed to buy firearms, Keene said.

Obama called for the task force after last month’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 27 people were killed — 20 of them elementary school children.

“This is a complicated issue,” Biden said, emphasizing that there is “no singular solution to how we deal with” mass shootings.

Many stakeholders in the issue have met with members of the task force, Biden said, including medical and religious groups, educators and parents.

Concerns about mental health may be “one of the most important things that we’ve been focusing on,” he said.

Biden also noted that many firearm deaths in the United States are suicides.

Referring to one of the most contentious issues — whether to reinstate an assault weapons ban — Biden said he has never heard so much support for “the need to do something about high-capacity magazines.”

The task force also was meeting with members of the entertainment industry to discuss violence in movies and TV shows.

Obama has spoken out about a culture that often “glorifies guns and violence.”

Dan Glickman, a former congressman and onetime head of the Motion Picture Association of America, rejects suggestions of links between films and real-life violence.

“I don’t think the abundance of movies that are put out by the entertainment industry are that violent or cause violence,” he told CNN on Thursday.

Also, Glickman said, “Hollywood does a pretty good job of letting parents know through its ratings system what kind of movie is coming out — whether there’s violence or sexual conduct or other kinds of things.”

Glickman served as a U.S. representative from Kansas for nine terms but lost a re-election bid in 1994. He blames that loss partly on supporting an assault-weapons ban.

“I would vote for it again and thought it was the right thing to do,” he said Thursday. He called it “a very politically sensitive issue,” particularly among law-abiding gun owners who see it as a threat to their ownership of guns.

Biden said Wednesday that while legislative action is needed to prevent mass shootings, Obama is also exploring executive orders.

Keene told CNN “some things you can do by executive orders, some things you can’t do by executive orders. Some things you do by executive orders need money to be implemented and that’s up to Congress.”

Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops were among 10 retailers who were to meet Thursday with Attorney General Eric Holder, who is part of the panel.

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, triggered controversy earlier in the week when it said its officials were unavailable to attend the meeting because of scheduling. The company soon reversed its decision, saying it had “underestimated the expectation to attend.”

The NRA has argued that it is committed to keeping people protected, but that a focus on stricter gun control is misguided.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has called for all U.S. schools to have armed guards. Keene later told CNN the group supports schools choosing whether they want armed guards.