Democratic, Republican senators clash at latest hearing on guns
WASHINGTON (AP) — The plague of gun violence makes it plain that current firearms restrictions are insufficient and new federal limits are needed, a top Democrat said Tuesday at a Senate hearing on gun control. Parrying that, a Republican said gun rights must be protected, even amid horrors like the mass shooting of school children in Connecticut.
"There are too many families who now face an empty seat at the dinner table" because of gun violence, said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. He said that while opponents of stricter gun limits claim that existing laws simply need to be better enforced, "that's not enough. There are so many gaps in those laws."
Durbin said restrictions such as requiring background checks for all gun purchases could be written that would still protect the Constitution's Second Amendment right to bear arms. Currently, such checks are required only for sales by licensed federal dealers.
At one point in the packed hearing, Durbin asked that people with relatives or friends who were victims of gun violence to stand, and several dozen rose from their seats.ALAN FRAM