Politics, government and public life for Southern California

House Democrats look for answers to prevent gun violence

Grace Napolitano (D-Los Angeles), foreground, serves on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

House Democrats heard a long list of suggestions Wednesday afternoon from law enforcement and health experts about how to prevent gun violence. Gun owners also weighed in on possible legislation.

Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson of Napa County repeated the line he uses every time he introduces himself as head of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force: "I’m a hunter," he said. "I’m a gun owner and I believe that law-abiding citizens have a Second Amendment right to own firearms."

Thompson invited a pair of fellow gun owners to testify, including James Cummings, a hunter and member of the National Rifle Association. Cummings warned that any gun laws must be both practical and enforceable. He pointed out that since the original assault weapons ban expired, the number of those weapons in America has tripled.

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California representatives split on Obama gun control proposals

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John Moore/Getty Images

Congressman Adam Schiff of the Burbank/Glendale area is introducing a pair of bills - one to help victims of gun violence hold gun makers and sellers accountable for negligence, and one to crack down on straw purchasers of guns.

Congressional Democrats are lining up to keep gun control on the front burner following the Newtown school shootings. Just hours after President Barack Obama outlined his proposals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California announced she’ll introduce her assault weapons ban bill next Thursday.

Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank introduced a pair of bills — one to ensure that victims of gun violence have the same rights to hold gun makers and gun sellers accountable for negligence, and one to crack down on straw purchasers of guns. And nearly a dozen of California's congressional Democrats joined other Democrats at a special hearing on the impact of gun violence.

Contra Costa County Congressman Mike Thompson  said no set of laws will end these senseless acts of violence. "But that’s no excuse for sitting around and doing nothin’," he said. Thompson heads a House gun violence task force. He called the challenge complex, but said every idea "and everyone needs to be at that table in order for us to be successful."

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Congressional gun owner Mike Thompson tapped for House gun control leadership

Northern California Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson has been asked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to coordinate the party's gun control legislation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked California Congressman and longtime gun advocate Mike Thompson to head a Democratic task force to coordinate House legislative efforts in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. 

Thompson, who represents the Northern California wine country, is working the halls of Congress — on both sides of the aisle.

Thompson says he’s been meeting with colleagues, trying to find consensus on what Congress should do to respond to the elementary school shooting. He hints that some of those conversations have been with Republican members, but declined to name any GOP Congressmen he's met with.

"I don’t think we need to do that right now," Thompson said Thursday. "We’re working on this thing and I don’t want to jeopardize it. If I find allies, I want to keep working with them."

House Republicans have been mum on any of the gun control proposals suggested by Democrats —  at least so far. That could change after the National Rifle Association holds a very public press conference Friday.

This year, Thompson was named one of eight "surprisingly pro-gun Democrats” by Guns and Ammo magazine.

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