Sen. Rockefeller: ‘Let’s be honest about gun safety’

April 8, 2013 by Ken Ward Jr.

West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller this morning issued a new statement about the ongoing congressional debate over gun safety, saying:

Four months ago, our country was shaken to its core when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, killing twenty small children and six people who worked there. We wept. We felt the gut-wrenching pain of those families and that community. And we rightly began talking about how we, as a nation, can keep such horror from ever happening again.

Parents, educators, police officers, hunters and sportsmen, and elected leaders have worked hard to find common ground and come up with new solutions to solve the very real problem of gun violence in this country. And they’ve stuck with it even in the face of some unfair and ugly criticisms by those who would instead turn this moment into a false rallying cry over gun rights that are not threatened in any way, shape or form. From the NRA to the halls of Congress and state capitols, we’ve seen some turn a blind eye to the tragedy of Newtown or, worse yet, use it as an excuse to create panic and undo longstanding public safety laws.

Sen. Rockefeller’s statement comes just as President Obama takes his push for stronger gun safety laws to Connecticut, for a speech just 50 miles north of the site where 20 children and six educators were murdered last year. And as the Senate returns from a two-week break today, lawmakers prepare to take up the gun safety issue. Many observers say that a renewed ban on assault weapons is dead, but that a deal on universal background checks might be possible. Sen. Rockefeller said:

In 1994, I supported the law that banned new purchases of a limited number of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. No one had to give up the guns they owned and thousands of rifles were exempt. That law made sense then and in my view should be reenacted now, but we also have the opportunity today to tackle other important aspects of gun violence – expanding mental health support services, studying violent media content, addressing gun trafficking, and closing the big loopholes that exist today in the background check process.

The background checks in particular are something we need to push ourselves to reach agreement on. We know beyond any doubt that right now in America there are too many ways for criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns, especially at gun shows – and we know how to fix it. This does not mean gun owners would be placed on a registry. What it does mean is that those who want to do people harm shouldn’t be allowed to avoid background checks by going to gun shows. Period. And we all have a shared responsibility to just put an end to that.

The grief from four months ago shouldn’t go away. It should be the rallying cry that drives us to make fair and meaningful progress toward gun safety. We can protect responsible gun owners while keeping firearms out of dangerous hands – and better protecting our children, law enforcement officers and all innocent Americans.

4 Responses to “Sen. Rockefeller: ‘Let’s be honest about gun safety’”

  1. mike4352 says:

    IF the senator is talking about private gun sells, I’m not sure how to enforce background check requirement without registration. I mean if all you are going to do is expand background checks to private sells, without some means of enforcing that they are doing them, you are working off of the Honor system and that will be useless.

    I am NOT in favor of gun registration at all. Too many ways the government could use that to infringe further on the 2nd amendment. Maybe not now, maybe not next decade maybe not even in 50 years (if the nation is still around by then) .. but at some point someone will get elected who is willing to step over the line from President to Dictator … and any gun registration that has taken place will merely serve to make his power grab that much easier.

  2. Dave Evans says:

    THANKS Jay!!!!! common sense and right on……

  3. Damion45 says:

    Well. Another solution in search of a problem. Universal background checks would have made no difference in Newtown. The killer’s mother passed the check. Less than 1% of those denied approval now are prosecuted. Why? More laws to make some feel like they are doing something…even if it is irrelevant…is not going to stop evil behavior. Banning guns only impacts the law abiding. And now you want to expand a system that doesn’t work. Just leave me alone.
    I do not use my firearms to break the law. If you want to do something, try reaching out to those with anger issues and their families who are scared to seek help. Try looking at a culture which profits from violence and killing. Look at what some psychotropic medicines cause unbalanced people to do. But do not come after me or my guns. Go after those who are a threat.

  4. The gun enthusiasts seem to think the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own an ARSENAL of as many guns as they want, of whatever KIND of gun they want, with absolutely no accountability. That doesn’t sound like a “well-regulated militia” to ME.

    My guess is that there will be NO new gun control laws in the foreseeable future, even anything as innocuous as Joe Manchin’s effort to tighten background checks … not when the gun lobby is threatening armed revolution if ANY new gun control measures are passed.

    Let’s not have any more hand-wringing when the next massacre takes place in a school or a church or a movie theater … because it’s apparently the price we have to pay to indulge gun enthusiasts in their little hobby.

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