Connecticut lawmakers seek to prevent new shootings

Washington — Connecticut lawmakers Sunday called for an end to the sales of the high-capacity magazines used in the Sandy Hook school massacre, the renewal of an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and other proposals aimed at stopping a years-long wave of mass murders that some say may have finally reached a tipping point.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the tragic killing of 26 people, including 20 young children, in Newtown Friday would “spur and transform” the national debate over gun violence.

“I’m hearing from the community, as well as my colleagues in law enforcement, we need to do something,” Blumenthal said. “I’m hearing from my colleagues in the Senate around the country, some in states like Wisconsin and Colorado, where there have been similar horrific, horrible tragedies.”

Blumenthal proposed an end to the sale of high-capacity magazines and promised to expand on his proposal in a Senate floor speech that could occur this week.

Appearing with Blumenthal, Sen.-elect Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who will assume retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat in the next Congress, said, “There are no simple solutions.”

“Yes, there needs to be a conversation about gun control,” Murphy said. “But also about the way we treat mental illness, also about the culture of violence in this country, which may have contributed to the way in which this very disturbed young man thought.”

Speaking on Fox’s “News Sunday,” Lieberman said the Newtown shootings may finally prompt federal action to curb gun violence.

“We’ve been through this before too many times,” he said.

Lieberman proposed the formation of a national commission on mass violence “to make sure the heartbreak and the anger that we feel now is not dissipated.”

He said the commission should be modeled after the panel that was created to come up with reforms  of the intelligence community and public safety after the 9/11 attacks.

Lieberman called for a renewal of the assault weapons ban, and for closing a “loophole” in gun laws that does not require purchasers of weapons at gun shows to undergo background checks.

According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, only about 40 percent of gun buyers are subject to background checks or waiting periods because of the sales at guns shows and on the Internet, which are also conducted without waiting periods or background checks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday she will introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of the new Congress in January.

Like Murphy, Lieberman said there’s also a need for new methods to help people with mental illness.

“See something, say something … if you see a young person who seems [troubled], get some help,” Lieberman said.

He also said that violent movies and video games may “cause vulnerable young men to be more violent.”

“We have to ask the entertainment industry, ‘What are you going to do to tone that down?'” Lieberman said. “We’ve got to continue to hear the screams of these children and see their blood until we are able to do something to try to prevent this from happening again.”

Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School had the highest toll of any other in the state’s history.