First Senate hearing on gun violence Jan. 30

January 16, 2013
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(Karen Bleier.AFP/Getty)

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on limiting gun violence on Jan. 30, the first of several proceedings expected to consider proposals by President Obama and other groups.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the committee, said his hearings “will ensure an open forum for a constructive discussion about how we can better protect our communities from mass shootings, while respecting the fundamental right to bear arms recognized by the Supreme Court.”

Leahy, who owns several firearms and is an expert marksman, told a crowd at Georgetown University Law School Wednesday morning that “like many other gun owners, I believe that we should strengthen our federal laws to combat gun trafficking and ensure that those seeking to purchase guns do so with background checks – but this is only part of what is needed.”

In an interview with The Washington Post Tuesday, Leahy said he plans a series of hearings on gun control that will include input from the National Rifle Association, law enforcement groups, educators and concerned parents.

“I’m not interested in anybody for or against gun ownership who will come in and just give me polemics,” he said. “I want some real things.”

Leahy said that he was not in a position to handicap the chances of any single proposal and that he could not gauge whether Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) was correct in suggesting recently that there was little chance of Congress passing an assault weapons ban.

But Leahy said that he supports Obama’s use of executive action to bolster federal background checks and that Congress should improve how the nation cares for the mentally ill.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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