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Lawmakers' reaction mixed to gun proposals

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Bulletin and AP reports

Lawmakers’ reactions were mixed to the broad proposals for curbing gun violence announced by President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

“Upon initial review, I will work with my colleagues and with other advocates of the Second Amendment to ensure that any new policies do not violate the Constitution and the inherent rights it recognizes,” 9th District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, stated in a release.

Obama’s proposals include universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines such as the ones used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, The Associated Press reported.

Obama also used his presidential powers to enact 23 measures that don’t require congressional approval, the AP reported. Those measures include ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.

While many of the executive orders “appear to be within the parameters of his (Obama’s) authority,” Griffith said he is “reviewing some and have concerns that doctors are going to feel pressured to ask questions not related to their jobs as doctors.”

Griffith also noted that the ATF director is responsible for overseeing enforcement of many existing gun laws.

Although he will “give due consideration to any legislative proposals that” come before Congress, Griffith said he simultaneously will keep “in mind the hundreds of existing firearms laws in this country and the Second Amendment.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Richmond, applauded Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “for putting forward a well-considered and comprehensive package of proposals to curb gun violence. ... We now have concrete ideas on the table for debate.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Kaine said he has “long advocated universal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole, to ensure weapons do not fall into the hands of dangerous individuals.” He added that he is encouraged by other proposals, such as increasing security in schools and preparing and training school officials for emergency situations.

“I strongly support improvements to our mental health system. In the coming weeks, I look forward to reviewing the details of proposed limits” on magazines and combat weapons, Kaine said, adding that he believes “reasonable restrictions” are needed.

“The Senate must take action on this issue, and I look forward to working together to achieve common-sense reform that will keep our children and communities safer while preserving the Second Amendment,” Kaine said.

Fifth District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, said in a release: “As our nation continues to heal from the horrific tragedy in Newtown ... (Congress) must take a serious look at how we can help prevent future tragedies.”

Hurt said that he looks forward to reviewing Obama’s proposals “as Congress works toward keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while” protecting Second Amendment rights.


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