Democrats pushing gun control
Debate tone shifts following Newtown.
Congressional Democrats showed signs Monday of a more aggressive push on gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., killings, while Republicans and gun-rights advocates remained largely silent on policy matters.
Sen. Joe Manchin III, DW.Va., the pro-gun-rights senator who drew attention in 2010 after running a commercial that showed him firing a rifle at an environmental bill, said that “everything should be on the table” as gun control is debated in the coming weeks and months.
Rep. John Yarmuth, a moderate Democrat from Kentucky, held a news conference to say he backed new legislation.
“I have been largely silent on the issue of gun violence over the past six years, and I am now as sorry for that as I am for what happened to the families who lost so much in this most recent, but sadly not isolated, tragedy,” Yarmuth said in a statement. “The National Rifle Association has spent untold millions of dollars instilling fear in our citizens and our politicians.”
He added, “I believe it is more rational to fear guns far more than the illusory political power of the NRA.”
And in a Twitter message sent out before a television appearance, Sen. Mark Warner, DVa., called the episode a “game changer.”
The NRA has been largely silent since the shootings Friday morning. On Monday, the home page of its web- site contained a blog post from Nov. 27, titled, “More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia,” and the association’s Twitter account, which is normally active, has not sent a message since Friday.
It remains unclear whether any new legislation is likely to pass, especially given that Congress remains focused on budget matters for the time being.
But the tone of the political debate does seem to have shifted.
Manchin, an avid hunter, indicated that he supported re-evaluating laws that permit people to have clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition and to own assault rifles.
“I don’t know anybody in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle,” Manchin said, speaking on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”