Local Congress members tackle gun control questions

3:59 PM, Jul 25, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- The horrific shootings in Aurora, Colorado are renewing an emotional debate about issues pertaining to gun control and gun owners' rights.

Some argue now is the time to revisit the topic because people are discussing it and genuinely concerned.

Others claim this is the wrong time to address the emotionally and politically volatile subject because feelings are raw and the country is still coming to grips with what happened.

Channel 3 News surveyed Ohio's two Senators and Northeast Ohio Congressional members on two questions.

We asked for yes or no answers, with explanations.

The questions:

Does the Senator or Congressmember support reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons?

Does the Senator or Congressmember support starting a federal registry or data base to track all weapons and ammunitions purchases?

Proponents argue such laws might have made it more difficult for accused gunman James Holmes to buy and  build an arsenal with massive firepower.

No specific proposals are pending before Congress.

Gun rights and National Rifle Association supporters say more laws are not the answer echoing the familiar arguments, "Guns don't kill, people do. And existing laws must be strongly enforced."

Four Congress members -- Dennis Kucinich, Betty Sutton, Marcia Fudge and Marcy Kaptur -- definitely support reinstating the assault weapons ban.

Kucinich opposes a national registry.

U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Mandel opposes both reinstating the assault weapons ban and creating a registry.

Others declined to give specific yes or no answers. Many delivered statements against violence but stopped short of supporting specific measures or suggested now is not the time to tackle this important but volatile issue.

Here are their statements.

Senator Sherrod Brown said, "As a country, we need to address the causes of gun violence-such as inadquate access to treatment for mental illness-to reduce the incidence of gun-related deaths. Gun owners and gun safety advocates can and should work together to reduce gun violence without compromising the Second Amendment or privacy rights of law-abiding Americans."

Senator Rob Portman "doesn't believe we should rush to a political debate after tragedy," and is a strong Second Amendment supporter.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge said, "We as a nation must do more to minimize senseless acts of gun violence. There is no good reason virtualy anyone can gain access to assult weapns, extended magazines and high capacity ammunition. The Colorado shooter was able to shoot one third of the people in that theatre in 90 seconds. That is totally unacceptable."

Congressman Steve LaTourette said, "there will be time later for policy discussion, but now is the time for grieving and healing."

Congresswoman Betty Sutton said, "I stand with the Fraternal Order of Police in supporting the reinstatement of this critical law (assault weapons ban.)"

Representative Jim Renacci said, "We need a full investigation before we jump to any conclusions about how this seemingly random act of incredible brutality could have taken place. What we do know so far is that this appears to be the act of a single, severely disturbed individual with no respect for the law or human life. The perpetrator should be brought to swift justice for this truly horrible crime. This terrible event should not be used as an excuse to attempt to limit the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. Now is the time to come together as a nation and heal."

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur declared, "Rather than new laws, we need responsible gun ownership and proper handling of weapons. I support renewal of the ban on assault weapons."

Congresswoman Tim Ryan said, "We don't yet know the full details of what happened in this situation and, until we do, it would be a mistake to comment on what should be done to address it, including any legislative remedies. It is clear that there is work to be done to prevent something like this from happening again, and once we know the full details of what occurred, I will work to do that."

Republican Senate Candidate Josh Mandel's spokesman Travis Considine said, "The Colorado shooter must be brought to justice , and this horrible tragedy should not be used as an excuse to place new restrictions on the millions of law-abiding gun owners in America."

In an election year, meaningful Congressional action or discussion of the issues involved are unlikely.


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