As one of the bloodiest years for mass shootings draws to a close, top Democrats in the Senate have pledged to start the new year with tighter gun legislation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said on Meet the Press Sunday morning that she would introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of the next Congress. “It’s a first-day bill I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” Feinstein said. “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession–not retroactively but prospectively–and it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.”
In 2004, Congress failed to reauthorize an existing assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton. After the unthinkable tragedy in Newtown claimed the lives of 26 children and adults on Friday, lawmakers are affirming that there is renewed public support and political will for new gun legislation.
“It can be done,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein’s Democratic colleague, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, said on CBS’ Face the Nation that the U.S. had finally reached ”tipping point where we can actually get something done.” Schumer outlined what he said were the top three areas that Congress will focus on with legislation.
“One is to ban assault weapons, try and reinstate the assault weapons bans,” he said Sunday. “Second is to limit the size of clips to maybe no more than 10 bullets per clip, and third is to make it harder for mentally unstable people to get guns.”
Whether lawmakers have the political will to defy the gun-lobby, however, remains unknown.
“We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning,” Meet the Press host David Gregory said. “We had no takers.”
Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer said his program had similar issues in booking pro-gun guests after the Newtown tragedy, and that lawmakers were reluctant to even discuss guns. ”I think they are more reluctant to talk about this than to talk about taxes,” he said.
One pro-gun conservative who did make it on the Sunday morning talk show circuit was Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who on Fox News Sunday argued that the adults at the Newtown elementary school should have been armed.
“I wish to God the principal had had an M4 in her office, locked up, so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out … and takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” he said.