By CHRISTOPHER KEATING and JON LENDER, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
8:42 PM EST, December 16, 2012
Searching for a way to prevent future shootings like the one in Newtown, some of Connecticut's congressional representives on Sunday called for a national discussion that could lead to a resumed federal ban on assault weapons and other gun control measures.
Some politicians said the fatal shootings of 27 people in Newtown, including 20 children, could prove to be the final straw for some politicians who reflect on the cumulative impact of mass shootings around the country, including the killing of students at Columbine High School in Colorado and the more recent movie theater shooting in Colorado.
Among the most outspoken was U.S. Rep. John B. Larson. "There's a point where you have to say enough,'' Larson said in a television interview. "How many more of these are we going to have to witness? ... We know this will happen again if we don't take action. ... Not to act is to be complicit. We have a responsibility to take action.''
Larson, an East Hartford Democrat who is currently the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat in the House, said he was not calling for across-the-board restrictions on gun ownership that would affect law-abiding gun owners.
"This is trying to prevent another massacre,'' Larson said. "I could point to shootings in Hartford and New Haven and Bridgeport. There is a culture of violence.''
Twelve girls and eight boys were killed in the shooting Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
"Seeing those little faces — perhaps that will be the thing that gets everybody to move,'' Larson said. "This continues to be a problem, whether you go back to Columbine'' or other mass shootings.
President Barack Obama, who came to Newtown on Sunday, had said Friday that the nation needed to take "meaningful action'' in the near future "regardless of the politics.'' Also on Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she would write a renewed assault weapon ban proposal when the new Congress convenes.
U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said Sunday on Fox News that the federal assault weapons ban, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and expired in 2004, should be restored.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Sunday that he hopes to speak on the Senate floor this week about banning both assault weapons and "high-capacity magazines'' that contain more than 10 rounds because "both had a role in this tragedy.''
"Certainly this horrific, brutal tragedy will transform the national debate and spur consideration of more aggressive gun violence prevention measures," Blumenthal said.
The shooter, identified as Adam Lanza, used a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle and at least three 30-round magazines. Six adults were also killed in the attack.
"Assault weapons have their primary purpose as killing and maiming human beings by firing highly powerful and very rapid-velocity rounds," Blumenthal said. "Some facts emerging about what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School indicate that the killer had enough ammunition essentially to shoot everybody in the school." He said the attack only ended when Lanza fatally shot himself as police arrived. "Otherwise, he could have continued. … He had hundreds of rounds."
"I approach this issue with somewhat unique experience," Blumenthal said, noting his background as a criminal prosecutor and former U.S. attorney for Connecticut, and later as attorney general from 1991 to 2011. As attorney general, Blumenthal said, he successfully defended the state's ban on assault weapons, in effect since 1993, against a legal challenge that rose to the state's Supreme Court.
Blumenthal said he didn't know whether he would try to introduce a bill in the short time remaining in the current lame-duck session of Congress. "The point is not so much to introduce a measure in the last two weeks of this session, but rather to begin a serious debate… which I think will be transformed by the horror and pain felt across the country."
Later, speaking on CNN and accompanied by incoming U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Blumenthal said: "I don't think I will ever forget the cries of grief and pain I saw at the firehouse on that day.''
In Hartford, there has been no indication yet on how the state legislature might proceed. State Rep. Stephen Dargan, co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee for more than 20 years, said Sunday his committee would analyze the issue but does not plan taking action right away.
"At this time, it's just proper to let the immediate families and the state grieve together and then have a discussion down the road later on where we go from here,'' Dargan said. "I'm sure, at the proper time, there will be discussions about the Second Amendment and mental illness and safety.''
On "CBS Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy called for increased gun control. McCarthy rose to national prominence on gun issues after the Long Island Railroad shootings that killed her husband and injured her son aboard a commuter train that was heading toward Garden City. The Long Island shootings by now-convicted murderer Colin Ferguson occurred on December 7, 1993.
"Let's come together to get this right for our children's sake,'' McCarthy said. Later, on CNN, McCarthy said the deaths of the children have changed attitudes around the country.
"The heavy lifting is going to have to come from Congress, and it will,'' McCarthy said. "The attitudes of the American people are a little bit different than they were before Friday.''
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