Thursday, December 12, 2013
Dave Collins / The Associated Press
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Thomas and Steven Leuci, a pair of 13- and 9-year-old brothers, pay respects at a memorial to victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month in Newtown, Conn. The town must decide on what to do with the school – one option is to demolish it and rebuild.
2012 File Photo/The Associated Press
NRA PRESIDENT: ASSAULT WEAPONS WILL NOT BE BANNED
WASHINGTON - The president of the National Rifle Association expressed confidence Sunday that Congress will not pass a new ban on assault weapons, a major aim of gun-control proponents after last month's killing of 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut.
"I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get assault weapons ban through this Congress," David Keene said on CNN's "State Of The Union."
Keene's comments come two days before Vice President Joe Biden is expected to issue recommendations to President Obama on reducing gun violence.
Biden's focus has been on requiring universal background checks for gun sales and on limiting sales of high-capacity ammunition clips.
But administration officials have indicated that a ban on assault weapons could also be proposed. Obama has endorsed renewing such a ban, which was passed by Congress in 1994 but expired a decade later.
Congress is showing a new willingness to restrict production and sales of certain firearms, with some pro-gun members speaking out for the first time against the spread of assault weapons.
It is far from clear whether there's enough support, particularly among Republicans, to approve a broad ban on such military-style guns.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., responded with a flat out "no" when asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" whether Congress would pass a ban on assault weapons.
On CNN, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said "I think we have the possibility, but it's going to be difficult." Prospects are better for Congress to push through restrictions on high-capacity magazines and expanded background checks, he said.
Keene said new measures on assault weapons and high-volume magazines would not prevent gun violence; that the focus should be on preventing mentally ill people from buying guns.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., disagreed with Keene's assessment that Congress would not take action on assault weapons.
"No, I think he's wrong," Murphy told CNN. Saying that he believed such a ban would have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Murphy argued: "Newtown fundamentally changed things. The NRA doesn't get this."
-- Tribune Washington Bureau
Residents of towns where mass shootings occurred have grappled with the same dilemma. Some have renovated, some have demolished.
Columbine High School, where two student gunmen killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher, reopened several months afterward. Crews removed the library, where most of the victims died, and replaced it with an atrium.
On an island in Norway where 69 people -- more than half of them teenagers at a summer camp -- were killed by a gunman in 2011, extensive remodeling is planned. The main building, a cafeteria where 13 of the victims died, will be torn down.
Virginia Tech converted a classroom building where a student gunman killed 30 people in 2007 into a peace studies and violence prevention center.
An Amish community in Pennsylvania tore down the West Nickel Mines Amish School and built a new school a few hundred yards away after a gunman killed five girls there in 2006.
Newtown First Selectwoman E. Patricia Llodra said that in addition to the community meetings, the town is planning private gatherings with the victims' families to talk about the school's future. The aim is to finalize a plan by March.
"I think we have to start that conversation now," Llodra said. "It will take many, many months to do any kind of school project. We have very big decisions ahead of us. The goal is to bring our students home as soon as we can."