In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., issued a veiled challenge to the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates who would oppose new efforts to tighten federal gun laws.

“I will not be deterred by any organization or campaign that uses scare tactics,” Blumenthal said.

The Connecticut Democrat called for a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips, better enforcement of existing gun laws, and a closing of “loopholes” that prevents as many as 40 percent of gun purchasers from undergoing background checks.

He also called for better efforts to prevent mentally ill people from obtaining firearms.

Like many Democrats, Blumenthal said the massacre in Newtown is a turning point in the national debate on gun control.

“Sometimes events happen that so change the nature of the discussion, they are a tectonic shift,” he said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., also took to the Senate floor Tuesday to urge his colleagues to approve legislation that could prevent another tragedy.

He called again for a commission to study youth violence, a proposal first promoted bu Lieberman after the Columbine shootings in 1999. But he said he understood the notion of some that nothing can be done to stop senseless violence.

“I don’t blame people for being skeptical,” Lieberman said. “We should have done this earlier.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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