December 19, 2012

Lawmakers Call for New Gun Rules


As funerals continued for shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., the White House and congressional leaders called for new gun legislation. Gwen Ifill speaks with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, who explained that while there may be no easy solution, “Enough is enough.”

Watch Pro Gun Rights Sen. Warner Says Tighter Firearms Laws Needed on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn to the aftermath of the shooting in Connecticut, as the community continues to mourn its losses in Connecticut, resume some routine, and consider its own role in a national conversation on what steps should now be taken.

Ray Suarez begins our coverage with this report.

RAY SUAREZ: A hearse arrived this morning at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown carrying the body of 6-year-old James Mattioli, one of the slain first graders from Sandy HookElementary School.

Hours later, a church bell tolled as mourners greeted another small white casket at the funeral for Jessica Rekos, also 6.

Meanwhile, students from other local schools returned to class, in buses adorned with ribbons bearing Sandy Hook’s colors. Police were on hand, as were counselors.

JOHN SOLLAZZO, Connecticut Police Officer: Making the kids safe and happy, that’s all we’re here for, is to make sure that they are safe and happy.

RAY SUAREZ: Sandy Hook itself remains closed. Plans call for its students to be sent to a now vacant school in nearby Monroe, but it was unclear when.

Back in Washington, a string of Democratic members of Congress took to the House floor, calling for new gun legislation.

REP. JANICE HAHN, D-Calif.: We need to pass bold, necessary, overdue gun control legislation. If we do not, this will happen again.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, D-Va.: Twenty innocents and their six teachers. More tears. More burials. But will we heed its meaning? Will we break the gun lobby’s spell?

RAY SUAREZ: Outside the Capitol, the head of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said Sandy Hook has altered the political equation on guns.

DAN GROSS, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: They say Friday’s horrific mass shooting at Sandy HookElementary School changed everything. And it has. It is a tipping point.

RAY SUAREZ: And White House spokesman Jay Carney announced President Obama will back a push for new legislation.

JAY CARNEY, White House: He is actively supportive of, for example, Senator Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban. He supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole.

RAY SUAREZ: Late today, the National Rifle Association offered its first statement on the killings, saying it was shocked, saddened and heartbroken. The group called a Friday news conference and promised meaningful contributions to prevent any future massacres.

GWEN IFILL: We interviewed Sen. Dianne Feinstein last night about her push to renew the assault weapons ban. Now we hear another perspective.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner is a Democrat who received an A-rating from the National Rifle Association.

Sen. Warner, welcome.

We heard that yesterday after the shootings in Newtown, you said that this was a game-changer. What do you mean by that?

SEN. MARK WARNER D-Va.: Well, Gwen, I’m a strong Second Amendment rights supporter. I own firearms. On my farm, I have actually got shooting range.

But Friday afternoon, my daughters, who had all come home from college, said, dad, you know, how did this happen? And what are you going to do about it?

And just as a father, the horror of what happened in Connecticut coming on the heels of tragedies at Virginia Tech years before, the tragedy in Colorado, and it seems like about every six or nine months, one of these incidents happening in America, makes me say, you know, enough is enough. There’s got to be a rational way to sort through this.

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