Category Archives: Mass Shootings

Santa Monica shooting: At least six killed, three injured, minutes after President Obama’s motorcade passed by

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A gunman may have set this house on fire on Friday before heading to Santa Monica College, where he continued his shooting rampage.

The shootings took place just before noon, approximately half an hour after President Obama’s motorcade passed through the area.

A second man described by police as a “person of interest” was taken in for questioning, but no further details were released.

The California college has been placed on lockdown, and the reportedly wounded suspect was found in the school’s library and is now in custody. The Secret Service said that the shooting did not impact the President’s travel schedule.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Jun 7, 2013

By David Knowles

Nine people have been shot, at least six fatally, near Santa Monica College on Friday.

According to unconfirmed reports, the shootings began during a domestic dispute at a home at 2036 Yorkshire Ave. Neighbors described hearing multiple gunshots coming from the home and saw smoke pouring from windows.

A man dressed in all black and carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon left the home where neighbors said a Lebanese family lived, shot a woman in a black Infinity, and got into the passenger side of a purple Mazda and ordered the driver to head in the direction of the Santa Monica College campus.

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Santa Monica College shooting prompts Obama motorcade rerouting

The gunman, who witnesses said was dressed in “swat gear,” including a ballistic vest, and was carrying multiple rounds of ammunition, then got out of the car and began firing at passing vehicles, including a city bus and a police car.

The suspect then fled police and ran onto the Santa Monica College campus where he shot one woman, and fired at several students at the school’s library.

“Everyone threw themselves on the floor, screams,” student Marta Fagerstroem, who was on the bus, told NBC4. “The bus driver, she panicked. She couldn’t drive away. She was able to, after a while.”

The college was quickly put on lockdown, and the suspect was shot and killed by police at the library.

Students at the college were in the midst of taking their final exams when shots rang out at the library.

“We didn’t know what was happening until all the students at the entrance of the library started running down towards the bottom of the library,” Santa Monica College student Sam Luster told KABC-TV.

After police entered the building, students were told to crawl on their hands and knees out of the library and several people reported seeing the body of a man dressed in all black lying on the ground. Multiple sources reported that police shot and killed the gunman.

A second man described by police as a “person of interest” was taken in for questioning, but no further details were released.

UCLA Medical Center said that one shooting vicitim died Friday afternoon. One more person was listed in serious condition, and four others had been hospitalized. All of the victims admitted to the hospital were women.

A young mother who was riding on the bus was grazed in the temple by one of the gunman’s bullets, but was alert and responsive as she was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance.

Responding to a fire at the home where the incident began, fire officials said they discovered two dead bodies and that both victims had apparently been shot inside the burning house.

Neighbors said that the Lebanese family who lived at the address had recently gone through a bitter divorce and the mother had moved out and assumed custody of at least one of her two sons.

According to witnesses, the shootings took place just before noon, approximately half an hour after President Obama’s motorcade passed through the area. The Secret Service said the incident did not affect the President’s fundraising visit to Los Angeles, but his limousine was re-routed.

Several schools in the area were put on lockdown for several hours, and Santa Monica College cancelled final exams.

7 dead in Santa Monica College shooting, gunman may have had help

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SWAT team: Sheriff’s deputies gather near Santa Monica College. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times /June 7, 2013)

latimes.com | Jun 7, 2013

By Rosanna Xia, Kate Mather and Andrew Blankstein

Seven people — including the gunman — are dead after a shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College, police said.

Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks described a violent shooting rampage that appears to have begun in the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue just before noon.

Two people were found dead on Yorkshire Avenue and a home was on fire, authorities said.

Santa Monica shooting: At least six killed, three injured, minutes after President Obama’s motorcade passed by

The gunman then moved west along Pico Boulevard, firing at cars, including a bus and a police vehicle.

One person died at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards; two died at 19th Street and Pico Boulevard. Another woman died at the hospital.

Seabrooks said the gunman may not have acted alone.  A second “person of interest” is in custody.

“We are not convinced 100% that the suspect who was killed operated in solo or a lone capacity,” Seabrooks said.

The suspect fled onto Santa Monica College, where he was pursued by police. He shot a woman on campus and ran into the library, where he continued to fire rounds from an assault rifle.

Authorities shot and killed the gunman on campus. He has not yet been identified, but police described him as being 25 to 30 years old.

They have detained a second man, who has not been identified. He is considered a person of interest.

Santa Monica College and all schools in the city were placed on lockdown.

The shooting rampage sent Santa Monica into chaos — just as President Obama was attending a fundraiser a few miles away.

Many college students were on campus studying — or taking finals.

Stephen Bell and his classmates were preparing for the final tap performance when two women ran into their Santa Monica College classroom, next to the campus library.

They just saw a woman get shot in the library, they said.

“When she said that word — shot! — we immediately shut the door, laid down on the floor and shut the lights,” Bell said.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, Columbine High School,” he said. “First thing that crossed my mind.”

Joey Letteri, the tap instructor, was running a few minutes late and was walking to class from his office upstairs. When he got to class, the door was shut and the lights were off.

“I thought it was a surprise and that the class got a cake for me or something,” he said, shaking his head at the innocent thought that had crossed his mind at the time.

Letteri led the class through a meditation and told them to stay quiet. They tried to calm the two female students down. One couldn’t stop throwing up, Letteri said, and the other was crying and shaking.

Finally, a SWAT team arrived. Letteri told them to slide their badges under the door. Each person in the classroom had to come out individually with their hands up, he said, and they were searched before they were all escorted off campus. Officers took the two witnesses from the library aside.

Colorado Lawmakers Advance Seven Sweeping Gun Control Measures In Senate Committee

huffingtonpost.com | Mar 13, 2013

By IVAN MORENO and KRISTEN WYATT

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2008: The NICS Improvement Amendments Act. Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.

DENVER — A series of sweeping gun-control measures in Colorado is on track to hit the governor’s desk by the end of the month, with Democratic committees in the Legislature advancing all the bills despite a Capitol packed with hundreds of opponents and surrounded by cars circling the Capitol blaring their horns.

Gun limits including expanded background checks and ammunition magazine limits were helped Monday by testimony from the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and victims of mass shootings in Connecticut and suburban Denver.

Colorado has become a focus point in the national debate over what new laws, if any, are needed to prevent gun violence after recent mass shootings, including an attack at an Aurora movie theater last summer – a massacre that brought to mind the Columbine High School shooting of 1999 for many in the state and across the nation.

The seven gun-control measures cleared their committees on 3-2 party-line votes and are planned for debate by the full Senate by Friday. Four of the seven have already cleared the House, making it possible some of them will land on the desk of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper within weeks.

“I think they’ll all pass. I really do,” said Democratic Senate President John Morse. “And I think they all should pass. I think any of them failing doesn’t make Colorado as safe as we could make Colorado.”

A biplane flying above the Capitol Monday warned the governor, “HICK: DO NOT TAKE OUR GUNS!” Hickenlooper backs expanded background checks and has said he’s considering a bill to limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. He hasn’t indicated where he stands on other measures, including whether he supports a proposal that would hold sellers and owners of assault weapons liable for shootings by such firearms.

Gun rights supporters walked the Capitol halls wearing stickers that read, “I Vote Pro-Gun.” Several dozen people outside the Capitol waved American flags as light snow fell.

Inside, retired astronaut and Navy captain Mark Kelly told lawmakers that he and his wife, Giffords, support the Second Amendment, but he said the right to bear arms shouldn’t extend to criminals and the mentally ill.

Kelly compared the different background check requirements for private and retail sales with having two different lines at the airport, one with security and one without.

“Which one do you think the terrorist is going to choose?” he asked.

Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Tucson, Ariz., was severely wounded in a mass shooting in January 2011 while meeting with constituents.

Gun control opponents say the proposals will not reduce violence. They say lawmakers should focus on strengthening access to mental health services for people who could be dangerous to communities.

The bill hearings were at times testy, and included some outbursts from the audience. After one bill passed, someone leaving the committee yelled “That sucks!” to lawmakers.

“I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior,” Democratic Sen. Irene Aguilar told the audience at one point.

The commotion at the Capitol underscored the attention the debate has generated nationally from gun rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association, to victims’ families and White House officials.

One of the nation’s largest producers of ammunition magazines, Colorado-based Magpul, has threatened to leave the state if lawmakers restrict the size of its products. Its founder said smaller magazines can be easily connected to each other and the company fears it would be legally liable if people were to do that.

Victims who have lost relatives to gun violence say it’s time for legislators to take action.

Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was among the 12 killed in the Aurora theater shooting, was among the people urging lawmakers to pass magazine restrictions.

“He was enjoying the movie one second, and then the next second he was dead,” Tom Sullivan said.

Jane Dougherty, whose sister, Mary Sherlach, was a psychologist killed in the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has been lobbying Colorado lawmakers to pass new gun laws. She said she doesn’t understand gun owners who worry the bills are putting a burden on their rights.

She said the Connecticut shooter used “the same type of weapon that we use in war” to “slaughter these babies” and asked lawmakers for stricter gun laws.

“We cannot wait for yet another massacre to transpire,” Dougherty said.

Majoring in Minors: Turning Our Schools Into Totalitarian Enclaves

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huffingtonpost.com | Feb 2, 2013

by John W. Whitehead

Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a watershed between the freedoms we enjoyed and our awareness of America’s vulnerability to attack, so the spate of school shootings over the past 10-plus years from Columbine to Newtown has drastically altered the way young people are perceived and treated, transforming them from innocent bystanders into both victims and culprits. Consequently, school officials, attempting to both protect and control young people, have adopted draconian zero-tolerance policies, stringent security measures and cutting-edge technologies that have all but transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

In their zeal to make the schools safer, school officials have succumbed to a near-manic paranoia about anything even remotely connected to guns and violence, such that a child who brings a piece of paper loosely shaped like a gun to school is treated as harshly as the youngster who brings an actual gun. Yet by majoring in minors, as it were, treating all students as suspects and harshly punishing kids for innocent mistakes, the schools are setting themselves and us up for failure — not only by focusing on the wrong individuals and allowing true threats to go undetected but also by treating young people as if they have no rights, thereby laying the groundwork for future generations that are altogether ignorant of their rights as citizens and unprepared to defend them.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the increasingly harsh punishments and investigative tactics being doled out on young people for engaging in childish behavior or for daring to challenge the authority of school officials. Whereas in the past minor behavioral infractions at school such as shooting spitwads may have warranted a trip to the principal’s office, in-school detention or a phone call to one’s parents; today, they are elevated to the level of criminal behavior with all that implies. Consequently, young people are now being forcibly removed by police officers from the classroom, strip searched, arrested, handcuffed, transported in the back of police squad cars, and placed in police holding cells until their frantic parents can get them out. For those unlucky enough to be targeted for such punishment, the experience will stay with them long after they are allowed back at school. In fact, it will stay with them for the rest of their lives in the form of a criminal record.

Consider the case of Wilson Reyes, a seven-year-old elementary school student from the Bronx who got into a scuffle with a classmate over a $5 bill. In response to the incident, school officials called police, who arrested Reyes, transported him to the police station and allegedly handcuffed the child to a wall and interrogated him for ten hours about his behavior and the location of the money. His family is in the midst of pursuing a lawsuit against the police and the city for their egregious behavior.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal, a woman, reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

And in Chicago, a 15-year-old boy accused by an anonymous tipster of holding drugs was taken to a locker room by two security guards, a Chicago police officer, and a female assistant principal, and made to stand against a wall and drop his pants while one of the security guards inspected his genitals. No drugs were found.

That students as young as seven years old are being strip searched by school officials, over missing money no less, flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Safford Unified. Sch. Dist. v. Redding. Insisting that Arizona school officials violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her on the suspicion she was hiding ibuprofen in her underwear, the justices declared that educators cannot force children to remove their clothing unless student safety is at risk.

Precedent-setting or not, however, the Court’s ruling has done little to improve conditions for young people who are the unfortunate casualties in the schools’ so-called quest for “student safety.” Indeed, with each school shooting, the climate of intolerance for “unacceptable” behavior such as getting into food fights, playing tag, doodling, hugging, kicking, and throwing temper tantrums only intensifies. And as surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, the punishments being meted out for childish behavior grow harsher.

Even the most innocuous “infractions” are being shown no leniency, with school officials expelling a 6-year-old girl for bringing a clear plastic toy gun to school, issuing a disciplinary warning to a 5-year-old boy who brought a toy gun built out of LEGOs to class, and pulling out of school a fifth-grade girl who had a “paper” gun with her in class. The six-year-old kindergarten student in South Carolina was classified as such a threat that she’s not even allowed on school grounds. “She cannot even be in my vehicle when I go to pick up my other children,” said the girl’s mom, Angela McKinney.

Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal’s office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. That particular LEGO, a policeman, was Patrick’s favorite because his father is a retired police officer. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school’s zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns. A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as “a nice kid” and “a good student,” was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.

School officials are also exhibiting zero tolerance for the age-old game of cops and robbers, a playground game I played as a child. In a new wrinkle on this old game, however, it’s not the cop who gets the bad guy. Now, the game ends when school officials summon real cops who arrest the kindergartners for engaging in juvenile crime. That happened at a New Jersey school, from which four little boys were suspended for pretending their fingers were guns. Most recently, two children at two different schools in Maryland were suspended in the same month for separate incidents of pretending their fingers were guns. In another instance, officials at a California elementary school called police when a little boy was caught playing cops and robbers at recess. The principal told the child’s parents their child was a terrorist.

Unwittingly, the principal was right on target: These are acts of terrorism, however, the culprits are not overactive schoolchildren. Rather, those guilty of terrorizing young children and parents nationwide are school officials who — in an effort to enforce zero tolerance policies against violence, weapons and drugs — have moved our schools into a lockdown mentality.

Things have gotten so bad that it doesn’t even take a toy gun, pretend or otherwise, to raise the ire of school officials. A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement). And in Oklahoma, school officials suspended a first grader simply for using his hand to simulate a gun.

With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what TIME magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Indeed, at least 20 children in four states have been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies. In some jurisdictions, carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick or dying your hair blue are actually expellable offenses.

Students have also been penalized for such inane “crimes” as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. A 9-year-old boy in Manassas, Va., who gave a Certs breath mint to a classmate, was actually suspended, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug. Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates. After students at a Texas school were assigned to write a “scary” Halloween story, one 13-year-old chose to write about shooting up a school. Although he received a passing grade on the story, school officials reported him to the police, resulting in his spending six days in jail before it was determined that no crime had been committed.

These incidents, while appalling, are the byproducts of an age that values security over freedom, where police have relatively limitless powers to search individuals and homes by virtue of their badge, and where the Constitution is increasingly treated as a historic relic rather than a bulwark against government abuses. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess, but the future doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting — not for freedom as we know it, and certainly not for the young people being raised on a diet of abject compliance to police authority, intolerance for minor offenses, overt surveillance and outright totalitarianism.

Obama on guns: ‘We’re not going to wait until the next Newtown’

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President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about his gun violence proposals, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, where he outlined his plan before law enforcement personnel. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Speaking at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, President Obama, says, “We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something.”

NBC News | Feb 4, 2013

By Kasie Hunt

Declaring “we’re not going to wait until the next Newtown,” President Barack Obama appealed directly to the American public on Monday to pressure reluctant lawmakers in Congress to move forward with gun control legislation.

Obama flew to Minneapolis, Minn., to urge constituents to contact their representatives and press for a package of new gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, universal background checks for gun buyers and new rules targeting gun traffickers.

“We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something,” Obama said, standing in front of a group of uniformed law enforcement officers.

Obama’s campaign-like strategy is designed to maintain a sense of urgency for gun control measures in the wake of the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 elementary school children and 6 adults.

But the president conceded Monday that his plans already face steep hurdles in Congress.

“Changing the status quo is never easy,” Obama said. “This will be no exception.”

Obama’s remarks in Minneapolis reflected the political realities on Capitol Hill, where Democratic leadership aides privately say an assault weapons ban has little chance of passing. The fight will instead center on universal background checks and, some Democrats hope, high capacity magazines.

On Monday, Obama labeled universal background checks as “commonsense” and “smart” reforms that would earn bipartisan support.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get that done,” he said.

There’s some evidence of that: While the National Rifle Association says it opposes universal background checks, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has been working with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to craft background check legislation.

For the politically difficult elements of his proposals – the bans on weapons and magazines – Obama set a more modest goal: “That deserves a vote in Congress,” he said.

That’s about the extent of what Senate Democratic aides say they can muster. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who earned a “B” grade from the National Rifle Association, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he plans to allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to start writing a gun bill. If it doesn’t initially include the ban, senators could try to add it later in the process, as an amendment on the Senate floor.

Reid has no plans to introduce his own gun bill, a senior Democratic aide said Monday, instead leaving that process to the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Still, aides acknowledged, including a gun ban in the overall package could prevent other, more popular gun regulations from passing Congress.

Democratic aides say Leahy hasn’t yet decided exactly what he’ll include in the bill, though he’s introduced a measure that would crack down on people who illegally buy guns to give or sell to others. Before the committee starts writing a bill, planned for later in February, there will be at least two more hearings – one this week in the Constitution Subcommittee and another full committee hearing after that.

Congress held its first hearings on gun control late last month, where National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre clashed with Democratic senators and emerged in opposition to universal background checks.

Obama referred to lobbyists like LaPierre in his remarks, though he didn’t mention the longtime gun advocate by name. He urged Americans to tell Congress if he didn’t speak for them.

“If we’ve got lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners saying something different, we’ve got to go to the source,” Obama said. “We cannot allow those filters to get in the way of common sense… keep the pressure on your member of Congress to do the right thing.”

Assault Weapons Ban Lacks Democratic Votes to Pass Senate

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Senator Dianne Feinstein speaks next to a display of assault weapons during a news conference on Jan. 24, 2013 on Capitol Hill. Alex Wong/Getty Images

bloomberg.com | Jan 25, 2013

By Heidi Przybyla & Julie Hirschfeld Davis

A proposed ban on sales of assault weapons would be defeated in the U.S. Senate unless some lawmakers changed their current views, based on a Bloomberg review of recent lawmaker statements and interviews.

At least six of the 55 senators in the Democratic caucus have expressed skepticism or outright opposition to a ban, the review found. That means Democrats wouldn’t have a 51-vote majority to pass the measure, let alone the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster to bring it to a floor vote.

A ban on the military-style weapons is among the legislative goals President Barack Obama outlined in his recommendations to Congress on curbing gun violence after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut. Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday it will take “persuasion and information” to gain the necessary support to enact the White House package.

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“We have an obligation to act — not wait,” Biden told reporters after a more than two-hour roundtable at Virginia Commonwealth University to discuss the administration’s push for new gun-safety measures.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California unveiled on Jan. 24 legislation to outlaw sales of assault-style weapons during a news briefing where shooting survivors, some of them with bullets still lodged in their bodies, urged its passage.

At that event, Feinstein said it’s unclear whether the fight is winnable. “We don’t know, it’s so uphill,” she said. “It depends on the courage of Americans.”

New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband in a 1993 shooting on a Long Island Rail Road train, said recent events have spurred a fresh start on the issue.

“We’re only at the beginning of our nation’s conversation about gun violence,” McCarthy said by e-mail. “There’s no way to know where the American people’s anger and frustration with” the Connecticut shooting “will ultimately take lawmakers.”

The five Democratic senators from traditionally pro-gun states who have expressed skepticism about the bill are Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, also said he opposes a ban.

Maine Senator Susan Collins, a Republican who supported similar legislation in 2004, has indicated she is unlikely to back the proposed ban in its current form.

In his comments yesterday, Biden made no mention of an assault weapons ban, and on Jan. 24 he downplayed its importance.

“I’m much less concerned, quite frankly, about what you call an assault weapon ban than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can be held in a magazine,” Biden said.

The 1994 assault weapons ban, signed by President Bill Clinton, expired in 2004 and, until the shooting in Newtown, there’s been little effort in Congress to restore it.

The new legislation prohibits the sale or transfer of 158 of the most commonly owned military-style assault weapons. It would exempt all such guns legally possessed before passage of the law and exclude more than 2,200 hunting and sporting rifles.

Baucus, in a Jan. 16 statement, said that “before passing new laws, we need a thoughtful debate that respects responsible, law-abiding gun owners in Montana instead of a one-size-fits-all directive from Washington.”

“The answer isn’t simply in limiting guns,” said Andrea Helling, a spokeswoman for Tester. The senator also told a newspaper in Missoula, Montana, that an assault weapons ban wouldn’t have stopped the shootings in Newtown.

Begich said he was “not interested” in a ban, during a Jan. 10 conference call with reporters. “I don’t believe that we need to pile on new laws and suddenly that solves all the problems,” he said.

Manchin told CNN on Jan. 13 that “an assault weapons stand-alone ban on just guns alone will not, in the political reality that we have today, will not go anywhere.”

Heitkamp, referring to the Connecticut shooting, told North Dakota’s KXMB-TV and KXMC-TV on Jan. 15 that “there isn’t any amount of gun regulation or gun executive orders that will solve the problem of identifying people who could potentially do this and making sure they get the help and their families get the help so they don’t do this.”

Scott Ogden, a spokesman for King, said the senator “remains skeptical” about an assault weapons ban, though he was waiting for more details.

Collins is concerned that the proposed legislation is “far broader in the kinds of rifles that would be banned than was the case in the law in effect between 1994 and 2004,” said her spokesman, Kevin Kelley.

Further dimming prospects for the assault weapon ban, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, both Democrats, voted against extending the previous ban in 2004. Neither has made any public statements since Newtown indicating a change in their positions.

Feinstein will be relying on survivor testimonials, along with images of the slain Sandy Hook students, most of them 6- year-olds, to push these Democrats to reconsider their opposition.

“The message to Democrats is, ‘See what your silence does?’” Feinstein told reporters. “There will be more of these. These won’t end.”

“If just reading the list of beautiful names and looking into the eyes of some of the pictures of the children slain doesn’t do something to the conscience of America, nothing I can say or do will,” she said.

The vote shortage for a ban may prompt Democrats to focus on another major goal that is also part of the Feinstein bill: banning high-capacity magazines that have been used in many of the U.S. shootings over the past decade to fire off numerous bullets in a matter of seconds from autoloading guns.

Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced separate legislation on Jan. 22 to ban the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

In the Tucson, Arizona, shooting two years ago that severely injured former Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, Jared Lee Loughner fired 31 bullets in 15 seconds from a Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol. He was tackled while reloading. An assault rifle with a 100-round magazine was among the weapons alleged gunman James Holmes used to kill 12 and wound 58 in July 2012 at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.

Mark Kelly, Giffords’s husband and a gun-control advocate, will testify at a Jan. 30 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, the panel’s chairman, announced yesterday. Kelly will be joined by witnesses including Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association, which opposes new restrictions.

Some of the lawmakers skeptical of the assault-weapons ban did express support for a prohibition on high-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets, as well increased background checks for firearm purchases.

“Congress must act to implement magazine capacity restrictions,” King spokesman Ogden said in a statement.

King is also “generally supportive of expanded background checks,” Ogden said.

Collins “supports a reasonable limitation on the number of rounds of ammunition in a magazine,” spokesman Kelley said.

Biden, who Obama tapped to develop recommendations for action after the Connecticut shooting, said there would be more trips outside of Washington to discuss the issue. Yesterday, he called the Newtown massacre “a national tragedy and a window into a vulnerability people feel about their safety and the safety of their children.”

The White House’s campaign-style effort is designed to build political pressure on Congress to take action.

“I have no illusions about what needs to be done and how difficult it will be,” Biden said in an e-mail sent yesterday to Obama supporters. “Each one of us needs to speak up and demand action,” he wrote, concluding: “Let’s get this done.”

The private roundtable Biden conducted in Virginia included cabinet officials, Democratic lawmakers, and members of the state-appointed review board that investigated the 2007 shooting that killed 33 people at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known as Virginia Tech, in the deadliest gun massacre in U.S. history.

That incident prompted passage of a 2008 law improving state reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, aimed at barring criminals or mentally ill individuals from obtaining guns.

Biden said the group discussed the need for strengthening that system and implementing universal background checks with better and timelier information from states. He said they also talked about the “woefully inadequate” number of trained mental-health professionals available around the country.

Manchin told a West Virginia radio interviewer Jan. 24 that he is working with senators of both parties to require most gun purchasers, including those at weapons shows, to undergo checks.

“If you’re going to be a gun owner, you should have a background check and be able to pass a background check,” he said. Exceptions should be made in cases where a gun is transferred from one family member to another, and when a weapon is being obtained for use at a sporting event.

Manchin said private sellers at gun shows have an “unfair advantage” because they don’t have to perform background checks while a licensed dealer does.

Newtown residents join gun control march in Washington

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People walk from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, during a march on Washington for gun control. Susan Walsh / AP

NBC News | Jan 26, 2013

By Becky Bratu

Residents of Newtown, Conn., the scene of a school massacre in which 20 children and six adults were killed last month, joined thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington on Saturday for a march supporting gun control.

Similar organized demonstrations were planned in support of gun control in about a dozen other places across the United States, according to organizers.

In addition to the 100 people who traveled together from Newtown, organizers told The Associated Press participants from New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia would join the demonstration.

Alongside Mayor Vincent Gray, a crowd that stretched for about two blocks marched down Constitution Avenue toward the Washington Monument, where speakers called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition. Some of the demonstrators held signs that read “We Are Sandy Hook.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressed the crowd, saying he and President Barack Obama would work to enact gun control policies, the AP reported.

“This is about trying to create a climate in which our children can grow up free of fear,” he said, according to the AP.

“We must act, we must act, we must act,” Duncan said.

According to the AP, demonstrators held signs that read “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” “Stop NRA” and “Gun Control Now.” Other signs carried the names of victims of gun violence.

The silent march is organized by Molly Smith, artistic director of Washington’s Arena Stage, and her partner.

“With the drum roll, the consistency of the mass murders and the shock of it, it is always something that is moving and devastating to me. And then, it’s as if I move on,” Smith told the AP. “And in this moment, I can’t move on. I can’t move on.

“I think it’s because it was children, babies,” she told the AP. “I was horrified by it.”

The event is co-sponsored by One Million Moms for Gun Control, an independent organization that is also responsible for similar demonstrations in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago and Austin, Texas.

The Newtown massacre has reignited the debate over firearms in the United States, and last week Obama laid out a series of measures intended to curb gun violence, most significantly proposals to limit the size of ammunition magazines, ban assault weapons and require universal background checks on firearm purchases. That plan won little praise from Republicans.

Earlier this month, New York lawmakers approved the toughest gun control law in the nation, expanding the state’s existing assault weapons ban and addressing gun ownership by those with mental illnesses.