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Gun Control Supporters Speak Out, With Senate Deal Reportedly Near

Kelly And Schumer On Gun Control

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on gun control. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)

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Tragedy In Newtown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The chorus for national gun control is growing louder.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was joined by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on Sunday afternoon to call on Congress to pass gun control measures including universal background checks.

And as 1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels reported, while Schumer’s office isn’t gigantic, it was crowded when he joined Kelly with so many family members of gun violence victims.

“Universal background checks are a way of stopping, in a systematic way, those who actually shouldn’t have guns – the domestic violence abusers, the convicted felons, people who have mental disabilities,” Kelly said.

As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported, Kelly called the bill “common sense,” that will help protect the citizens and police officers alike.

“This is a must-pass law,” Kelly said. “It is literally a matter of life and death.”

Schumer said he’d also like to see provisions enacted to prevent criminals and the mentally disturbed from getting their hands on a weapon.

He maintained that background checks are not about eroding Second Amendment rights, but instead serve the goal of keeping weapons out of the wrong hands.

“A felon, someone adjudicated mentally ill, a spousal abuser should not have a gun because of the danger they reek when guns get in their hands,” he said.

Schumer said the National Rifle Association and other anti-gun control groups are very powerful.

“They manage to spread things that are just not true, such as, this is going to lead to registration,” Schumer said. “You know, in some parts of the country, registration of handguns – even though we have it in other parts of the country – is a great fear.”

He said once upon a time, the NRA would have supported a bill like the one he is backing.

“In 1999, the NRA said they were for background checks,” Schumer said.

He added that in 2007, he worked with the NRA on legislation on background checks based on mental health.

A vote on national gun control could come this week. Schumer has urged his colleagues to not filibuster any proposals, which would prevent a vote.

“It is one of the most important weeks in the history of the Senate,” Schumer said.

Sixty votes are needed to clear any possible filibuster, which a contingent of Republican lawmakers have threatened. But as WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, he said compromise only goes so far.

“They make the bill ineffective in a fig leaf,” Schumer said. “Forget it.”

Among the victims’ family members who were present at the news conference Sunday was Shanay Johnson, who wanted her voice heard after losing her college-bound teenage son nearly three years ago.

“We are real people that have to live with this pain every single day and it doesn’t go away. And this could easily be you,” Johnson said.

Victims’ families said they want to stop dreams from getting gunned down, “because my son Kendrick wanted to be President,” Johnson said.

Jen Gold and her friends were also present. Their friends, Carol Kestenbaum and Nicole Schiffman, were shot to death in 2007.

“The man had a gun he shouldn’t have had access to. Other people should not lose their friends,” Gold said. “They were far too young. It was Carol’s 20th birthday. Nicole was 19.”

On Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” airing on CBS 2 at 7 p.m., CBS News anchor Scott Pelley shared some of his conversation with families of Newtown victims.

Pelley spoke with Nicole Hockley, the mother of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley who was killed in the massacre.

“They need to not just look us in the eyes – but look our children and the lost ones, and see those faces; see what’s gone,” Nicole Hockley said.

She said she’d like to see magazine limits and universal background checks implemented.

Bill Sherlach, the widower of school psychologist Mary Sherlach, said he won’t stop pushing for reforms until meaningful legislation has been put in place.

“This is a marathon. And you have to be prepared to run all 26 miles. This is not a sprint. That’s been the typical reaction. Get the legislation. Get it now. And then it– it fades. Time goes by. News cycles happen. Other headlines come up. Now when you take a multifaceted approach, and you can build a wagon big enough for a grassroots movement to get involved, it has the legs to go the 26 miles,” Sherlach told Pelley.

The mother of Newtown massacre victim Ana Marquez-Greene touched on the complexities of the gun debate.

“At first that was where my heart was – we’ve got to get, you know, let’s have a big bonfire and burn everything. Let’s burn all these damn guns,” said Nelba Marquez-Greene. “I have since learned that it’s a more complex issue than just saying, ‘Let’s ban assault weapons.’”

Newtown victim Daniel Barden’s father said he is pleased with the progress so far.

“The universal background check is very important,” he said. “And to that point, I think Connecticut has done a wonderful job.”

The father of Newtown victim Benjamin Wheeler said he feels those who knew Nancy Lanza, the mother of gunman Adam Lanza, could have done something to help with her troubled son.

“There’s a community vacuum here. This didn’t happen by itself. This didn’t happen in a bubble,” David Wheeler said. “She had a life. She had friends. People knew. They had to know.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued against a possible GOP filibuster, saying gun control is an issue worth lawmakers’ time.

“I think that that’s… a subject that I think the American people, and, certainly, the Congress, could be helped by if we have a vigorous debate and discussion,” he said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Still, some feel that tougher laws won’t be effective.

“Whatever you do, in terms of legislation, even if you had all of your universal background checks, bad guys are going to get guns and it’s not going to solve the problem of the schools,” said former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), who now serves as director of the National School Shield Task Force.

President Barack Obama will be speaking at the Chase Family Arena on the University of Hartford campus in West Hartford on Monday.

He will be joined by Newtown families as continues to urge Congress to enact gun control measures.

Last week, Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy signed tough new state gun control measures into law.

On Sunday’s “State Of The Union” on CNN, Malloy blasted National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.

“Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus. They get the most attention, and that’s what he’s paid to do,” said Malloy.

Last week, LaPierre suggested that Connecticut’s newly enacted law would not have prevented the Newtown massacre.

“The gun that was used to kill 26 people on December 14 was legally purchased in the state of Connecticut, even though we had an assault weapons ban. But there were loopholes in that you could drive a truck through,” Malloy said.

Malloy is outraged over opposition to universal background checks for the sale of firearms, and said it all simply comes down to money.

“What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible,” he said.

He spoke out against critics who argued that the new gun control measures in Connecticut go to far.

“In fact, in the states that have the loosest laws, they have the largest suicide rates and the largest homicide rate,” Malloy said.

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