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WH gun-control group to hear from police

Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:00 AM


WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A gun-control working group led by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden would hear from law enforcement officials when it meets Thursday, the White House said.

The group, which President Barack Obama announced Wednesday, vowing to make gun control a "central issue" as he opens his second term, was to include Cabinet officials from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Education, and Health and Human Services, the White House said.

The 1 p.m. EST meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building just west of the White House would be the beginning of the administration's plan to submit broad new firearm proposals to Congress no later than January, Obama said.

Biden helped write the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included an assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and other lawmakers have said they will introduce legislation reinstating the measure in the new Congress next month.

Obama reiterated his support for the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, but said, "We should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war.

"There is a big chunk of space between what the Second Amendment means and having no rules at all. And that space is what Joe is going to be working on to try to identify where we can find some common ground," Obama said.

Obama promised to use "all the powers" of his office to overcome deep-seated political resistance to gun control.

The Wall Street Journal said those powers would likely include using administrative action to put some gun regulations into place.

Leading House Republicans responded to the president's pledge by restating their firm opposition to new limits on guns or ammunition.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said passing more restrictions on "law-abiding citizens" would not deter shootings such as Friday's mass killing in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School dead.

Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot his mother at their home before the attack at the school. He then killed himself.

"As the details of this senseless act emerge, it is clear that criminals will always find ways to acquire weapons and use them to commit acts of violence," Jordan said in a statement. "Passing more restrictions on law-abiding citizens will not deter this type of crime."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told radio station KSCJ, Sioux City, "political opportunists didn't wait 24 hours before they decided they were going to go after some kind of a gun ban."

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., told The New York Times he thought gun-control moves were "probably a rush to judgment."

"I think it's more of a mental-health problem than a gun problem right now," he said. "Traditionally states that enact rigid, inflexible gun laws do not show a corresponding diminishment in crime."

But Scott Brown of Massachusetts became the first Republican senator to express support for a federal ban on assault weapons.

"What happened in Newtown where those children were subject to that level of violence is beyond my comprehension," he told The (Springfield, Mass.) Republican.

"As a state legislator in Massachusetts I supported an assault weapons ban thinking other states would follow suit. But unfortunately, they have not and innocent people are being killed," Brown said. "As a result, I support a federal assault weapons ban, perhaps like the legislation we have in Massachusetts."

Brown earlier said he opposed tighter federal gun laws when asked after the July 20 Aurora, Colo., movie-theater shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 and after the Jan. 8, 2011, Tucson shooting that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

"I'm not in favor of doing any additional federal regulations relating to any type of weapons or federal gun changes," Brown told The Boston Globe at the time. "I feel it should be left up to the states."

Earlier Wednesday, Democratic Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren, who defeated Brown in November's election, reiterated her support of a federal ban as well as increased measures to strengthen the background-check process.

House Democrats urged Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to bring a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines to a vote by Saturday.

His office had no immediate comment.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., a lifelong hunter and gun-rights activist, is now leading House Democrats' gun-related efforts.

Several Democratic proposals "certainly make sense," he said, including a ban on high-capacity magazines, which are ammunition storage and feeding devices.

"I've been a hunter all my life, and there's no reason to have a magazine that holds 30 shells," Thompson said.

(Source: UPI )
(Source: Quotemedia)

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