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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Dianne Feinstein takes assault weapons ban to the people with petition

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) takes to Senate floor

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says her proposed assault weapons ban isn't about taking away anyone's constitutional right to bear arms.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has promised to re-introduce an assault weapons ban when the new Congress is sworn in. But she's not waiting until January to push for public support.

Senator Feinstein has sent out an e-mail blast, asking supporters to sign a petition to back her ban on assault weapons. Feinstein says she wants to show "how much public support is behind" such a ban.

Feinstein says it isn't about taking away anyone's constitutional right to bear arms: "This is about removing weapons of war from our businesses, movie theaters and schools."

Feinstein was the author of a previous assault weapons ban passed by Congress in 1993. It expired in 2004. She says the new bill will be a stronger version of the earlier law, proposing to ban the sale, importation, transfer or possession of new assault weapons. It will also ban high-capacity clips, magazines, and strips that hold more than 10 bullets. 

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