Lawmakers Call For Tougher Gun Laws In Wake Of Newtown Massacre
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are among several lawmakers who say meaningful action must be taken to tighten gun laws and enforcement.
Bloomberg has long been an advocate for tougher national gun regulations. He appeared Monday at City Hall with dozens of shooting survivors and victims’ relatives to call on Congress and President Barack Obama to take action.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports
“Words alone cannot heal our nation, only action can do that,” Bloomberg said. “Gun violence is a national epidemic and a national tragedy that demands more than words.”
“This is just ridiculous. This is an outrage. We are killing each other and we’re the only industrialized country in the world doing it,” Bloomberg told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
The mayor wants:
* Reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004
* A ban on high capacity magazines
* Background checks for every gun sold
* A law to make gun trafficking a felony
“If this moment passes into memory without action from Washington, it will be a stain upon our nation’s commitment to protecting the innocent, including our children,” Bloomberg told reporters including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “If he does nothing, during his second term something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns.”
The mayor said the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting rampage must spur lawmakers to bring about real reforms.
“I think it is true when you see 6- and 7-year-olds as the victim somehow or other it goes to your heart a little more. It’s more of a – ‘My God, what kind of a society do we have?'” Bloomberg said.
The mayor wants Congress to act immediately, even while they are coming up with a solution to the so-called “fiscal cliff.” He said if lawmakers can’t do two things at once “who on Earth did we elect?”
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports
Bloomberg is also releasing a series of new ads to pressure lawmakers to come up with a plan to get guns off the streets. The ads will be similar to one released a few months ago featuring Stephen Barton, a survivor of the Aurora movie theater massacre.
Barton was among the shooting survivors who joined Bloomberg at City Hall Monday afternoon.
“I’d say don’t let these children die in vain, don’t let children continue to die every single day,” Barton told reporters. “For our government not to act now after so much blood’s been spilled would be a travesty.”
Sandy Phillips lost her daughter Jessica at the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting in July and said she thinks Newtown will change things.
“I can’t believe that Americans are going to stand by and watch babies being slaughtered and say nothing and do nothing. I have to believe that the American people will stand up, be counted,” she told reporters.
Chris Foye’s son, Chris, was killed by a stray bullet in Harlem in 2009. He was 13. His father said the Newtown massacre brought all the feelings back.
“Broke my heart, it broke my heart. As a parent who lost a child I don’t want to ever seen anyone lose a child,” Foye told CBS 2’s Kramer. “That’s an indicator that something’s wrong in America. We have to really break the chain, the culture of violence.”
Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King has voiced his support for renewing the assault weapons ban in addition to what he called sensible gun control reforms.
“I would support the ban on assault weapons as I did back in 1994 when I voted in the Congress to ban assault weapons,” King told WCBS 880 on Monday. “I voted back in 1994 for the assault weapons ban. The Second Amendment certainly exists, the Second Amendment has to be respected but I, quite frankly, don’t see the need that people have in our society today to have combat-style assault weapons, to have high-powered weapons, to have high-capacity magazines to be able to fire off so many shots in a matter of seconds. The danger and the threat from that, especially by madmen or madwomen is just too much of a risk.”
“We should also close loopholes at these gun shows and also say that if you’re on a terrorist watchlist, you should not be able to purchase a weapon. I don’t think any of those measures would in any way interfere with someone’s right to self defense and certainly not violate the Second Amendment,” said King.
However, King said as tragic this incident is he is not confident change will happen without a serious effort.
“I would hope that the country would wake up after this incident and we would get more common sense gun regulation. I’m honestly not that optimistic, as we’ve had a number of incidents in the past several years and none of them has really had the impact that I thought it should,” King told WCBS 880.
New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said that now is the time to act on renewing the assault weapons ban and ending the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips.
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reports
“These tragedies are not worth having access to all types of weapons, we don’t need military-style weapons in our communities,” Gillibrand told reporters including WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “Folks do not need access to military-style weapons or the kinds of magazines that carry multiple clips, so many that they’re only designed for wartime, they’re only designed to inflict the most amount of damage possibly in the shortest amount of time.”
Gillibrand said there is enough common ground on both sides of the gun control issue to move quickly on meaningful legislation to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports
“Having a strong Second Amendment and protecting our Constitutional rights is not incompatible with reforms that keep these dangerous weapons, these military-style weapons that deliver so many bullets in such a short amount of time, they do not need to be in our communities. I think that’s a sacrifice we can all make,” said Gillibrand.
The senator said she is hopeful action can be taken quickly and with bipartisan support.
“New Yorkers deserve more from our politicians, our country deserves more, the parents in Connecticut deserve more,” Gillbrand said.
Cuomo, meanwhile, said a tougher federal law is needed to crack down in the interstate transport of guns.
Speaking Monday, Cuomo said he’ll propose state gun laws to close loopholes related to assault rifles. Federal statistics show that most guns recovered from New York crimes in 2011 originated in states with fewer legal restrictions.
Gun control was a hot topic in the early 1990s, when Congress enacted a 10-year ban on assault weapons. But since that ban expired in 2004, few Americans have wanted stricter laws and politicians say they don’t want to become targets of a powerful gun-rights lobby.
Gun-rights advocates said that might all change after the latest shooting that killed 20 children.
“I think we could be at a tipping point — a tipping point where we might actually get something done,”said Sen. Chuck Schumer on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster rifle and two semi automatic handguns — a Sig Sauer and a Glock, police said. All were legally purchased by his mother.
Gun-rights activists have remained largely quiet on the issue since Friday’s shooting, all but one declining to appear on the Sunday talk shows.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, was the sole representative of gun rights’ activists on the various Sunday talk shows. Gohmert suggested that Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died trying to take down the gunman, could have defended herself had she been armed.
1010 WINS’ John Montone reports
“When she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, so she takes him out,” Gohmert said. “The facts are that every time guns have been allowed — conceal-carry (gun laws) have been allowed — the crime rate has gone down.”
Gun-control advocates say that isn’t true. A study by the California-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence determined that 7 of the 10 states with the strongest gun laws, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and California, are also among the 10 states with the lowest gun death rates.
Speaking Sunday night at a vigil in Newtown, Conn., President Obama did not specifically address gun control. But he vowed, “In the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
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