(WASHINGTON) — The elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has opened the subject of gun control and the Second Amendment in the United States.
That debate took center stage on Sunday, when California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she intends to introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of the next Congress.
“The purpose of this bill is to get … weapons of war off the streets,” the longtime Democratic senator said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban into law in 1994, but the measure expired in 2004. Feinstein also called for the ban to be renewed in July, after the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman went a step further, suggesting there should be “a national commission on mass violence,” following Friday’s shooting in his home state.
Lieberman said this commission would investigate the questions being asked about Newtown and come up with ways to try and prevent it from happening again.
“It’s time for Democrats, Republicans and independents to say … the strongest conceivable gun control laws won’t stop all acts of violence. But, also, to acknowledge that the stronger our gun control laws are, the fewer acts of violence including mass violence that will happen in our society,” Lieberman said today on Fox News Sunday.
Lieberman, an independent, spoke out in favor of reinstating the assault weapons ban, but also talked about “toning down” the violence that he said dominates our entertainment industry.
“The violence in the entertainment culture, particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games and movies now, does cause vulnerable young men, particularly, to be more violent,” he said.
Following the Connecticut shooting, it has been reported that the shooter, 20-year old Adam Lanza, was an avid player of violent video games that involved shooting guns.
Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz agreed that violence found in games and movies is something that needs to be addressed. But in terms of gun regulation following the Newtown shooting, Chaffetz called current gun rules “stringent” and said “there are prohibitions on lots of guns.”
“I’m a conceal carry permit-holder. I own a Glock 23. I’ve got a shotgun. I’m not the person you need to worry about,” Chaffetz said on ABC’s This Week. “But we have to look at the mental health access that these people have.”
Chaffetz added that it will take more than government solutions to prevent a shooting like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School from happening again.
In an address following the deadly shooting, President Obama seemed ready to take on the issue of gun control in his second term.
“As a country we have been through this too many times,” he said. “Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin or a movie theatre in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children.”
The statement is a subtle but marked shift for Obama, who has not made gun control a priority during his presidency in spite of at least five major mass shootings that have occurred on his watch — Binghamton, N.Y. (2009); Fort Hood, Texas (2009); Tucson, Ariz. (2011); Aurora, Colo. (2012); and Oak Creek, Wis. (2012).
As far as the assault weapons ban Feinstein plans to introduce early next year, she said she expected Obama to offer public support for the law.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune