UK & World News
US Shooting: Democrat Plans Assault Weapon Ban
A leading US Democrat has said she will seek a ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips after 26 people were shot dead in a school in Connecticut.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California told NBC's "Meet the Press" programme: "I'm going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons."
A federal ban on assault weapons, which took effect in 1994, expired in 2004 and efforts to revive it have failed. Although President Barack Obama supported restoring the law while running for president in 2008, he did not make it a priority during his first term.
But asked if Mr Obama would throw his support behind her measure, Ms Feinstein said: "I believe he will."
The medical examiner in Newtown said that all the murdered children he examined suffered gunshot wounds from a rifle, believed to be a .223 calibre Bushmaster.
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said that the weapon was so powerful he was literally able to shoot an entrance into the building.
"That's what an assault weapon can do for you," he said.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, a tearful President said: "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
But the scale of the task facing anyone taking on the second amendment right to bear arms was emphasised by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert who maintained gun ownership was a constitutional right that ultimately protects Americans.
"I wish to God (the school principal) had a gun locked up her office" so she could have taken off the shooter's head, he told Fox News.
Many states, including Connecticut, already have strict laws on the purchase of firearms, but with no federal statutes, there is little to stop the traffic of guns from other states where fewer restrictions apply.
Joe Lieberman, an independent senator for Connecticut, called for a national commission to scrutinise the nation's gun laws, mental health system and the role that violent video games and movies might play in shootings.
Dick Durbin, a Democrat for Illinois, agreed and told Fox News it was time the nation reflected in a "thoughtful way."
"We need to sit down and have a quiet and calm conversation on the second amendment," he said.
Each year, more than 31,000 Americans die from gunshots. Most of them are self-inflicted but more than 11,000 are murders.