Several Democratic lawmakers called for a new push for U.S. gun restrictions on Sunday, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, in the wake of the Connecticut massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down in a school.
Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, the author of an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she would introduce new legislation this week. Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said lawmakers would hold hearings on gun control, and several others said they would devote new attention to the long-ignored issue.
“I think we could be at a tipping point … where we might get something done,” Senator Charles Schumer, another top Senate Democrat, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Any effort to restrict access to high-powered weapons is likely to face fierce opposition from many Republicans in Congress who say restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution’s right to bear arms.
Gun control has been a low priority for most U.S. politicians due to the widespread popularity of guns in America and the clout of the pro-gun National Rifle Association. Most Republicans and many Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are firm allies of the group.
Opinion polls have found Americans to be divided on the issue even after other high-profile shooting incidents.
U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new gun law since 1994.
Feinstein said her planned legislation would outlaw the high-capacity magazines and military-style assault rifles that have factored in many recent mass shootings, including Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. People who own such weapons now would not be required to give them up, Feinstein said.
She said she would introduce her bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate soon, and a companion bill would be introduced in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.