A US senator detailed his call Monday for a national commission on mass violence and a broader debate about guns, saying he hoped last week’s murder of 20 school children will be a tipping point for action.
Senator Joe Lieberman, speaking in the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in his home state of Connecticut, said he wanted a commission to look at ways to help curb gun deaths by discussing the issue with Americans of all stripes — gun advocates as well as opponents.
“We’ve got to bring everybody to the table, including the gun manufacturers and the gun rights groups and the entertainment industry and just regular people,” Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent who is retiring next month, told Fox News.
“We’ve got to work together and get something done.”
Lawmakers have shied away from gun control legislation in recent years, seeing the explosive issue as a possible political liability, even after one of their own, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head last year by a deranged gunman, who killed six others.
Giffords suffered severe injuries in the Tucson, Arizona rampage and resigned from Congress in order to focus on her rehabilitation.
In the wake of Friday’s shooting, in which a young man blasted his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself, several senators and members of Congress have called for debate and action.
They are looking at reassessing the availability of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity clips and magazines, and have called for groups like the National Rifle Association, the country’s most powerful pro-gun lobby, to participate in the discussion.
“This murder of 20 pure, innocent children is a tipping point,” Lieberman said.
“This is not us and them, us against the NRA or us against the entertainment industry. This is all of us” looking at ways to “limit access to guns by people who shouldn’t have them,” the senator told CNN.
“That shouldn’t inhibit anybody’s right to hunt, target shoot, or even to defend themselves with a gun.”
The NRA has been largely silent in the wake of the Connecticut shooting.
Lieberman stressed that he did not want the commission to be a mere “excuse for not doing something,” and he cited his previous call for such a panel in 1999, after two students shot and killed 12 fellow students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado, that was rejected by lawmakers.
“If the president can do something now (through an) executive order, God bless him. If Congress can get together soon and get something done, God bless Congress,” Lieberman said.
He also warned that the entertainment industry will need to step up and “accept some responsibility” over how video games may promote violent behavior.
“Obviously not every child or young man who plays a violent video game is going to become a shooter or a killer, but there are vulnerable people out there who are in my opinion made more violent by these games.”