Republicans resist ban on assault weapons as debate over gun control reignites
The tragic shooting in a school in Newtown, Connecticut has reignited the debate over gun control, and gun rights supporters on the Hill have signaled a willingness to have that conversation.
But, many lawmakers still oppose the reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban.
Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican South Carolina) called the shooting tragic, but added that a ban on assault weapons "did make sense to me."
"The worst thing we can do is create false sense of security. Every bad event in the world can't be fixed by government action," he said, adding: "The question for me is how to prevent mass murder?"
According to Politico, Graham said that he's open to establishing a commission to help members understand what they could "logically [do] and #65533; to prevent mass murder."
"That's not going to answer the question. You've got to find out who has access to those guns, especially where people are irrational, deranged and so forth. How do you define assault weapon? It's very difficult," Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), said.
"[An assault ban] won't fix it. We've seen that movie before," Shelby added.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said there were "specific ideas" that could be debated, but his commitment is to "continue to protect what is a constitutional right."
"I also think it's important to point out that gun laws have limitations as to what they can accomplish," he said, adding: "Criminals by definition do not follow the law."
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said Congress is "united in condemning the violence" but stopped short of calling for any policy prescription to address gun violence.
"As we continue to learn the facts, Congress will examine whether there's an appropriate and constitutional response to better protect our citizens," he told reporters Tuesday.
McConnell did not directly answer whether he felt it's time for a Senate debate on gun control.
"It'll be up to the majority leader, [Harry Reid]," McConnell said.
"He's indicated that's a subject he's likely to turn to next year and I think right now people are properly thinking about the catastrophe in Connecticut last week," he added.
Still, the massacre has changed the debate on the Hill. Several NRA-backed Democrats have begun to talk about their willingness for new gun regulations.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a strong gun advocate, said he had spoken with President Barack Obama on Tuesday about the tragedy, but noted the conversation also needed to be about mental health, school safety and media portraits of violence, not just gun regulation, the report added.