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December 19, 2012

Newtown tragedy sparks gun debate

(Continued)

Measures Tierney favors include reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, and requiring mental health background checks for those purchasing a gun.

Tierney said unless someone is going to war, there is no need to own the type of assault weapon used in the Newtown shooting. Along with the renewal of the assault weapons ban favored by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Tierney said he has sponsored bills that place restrictions on high-capacity clips, close loopholes in the background check for purchases at a gun show, and toughen laws against gun trafficking.

Citing an editorial in The New York Times on Monday, Tierney said even Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the opinion that struck down a handgun ban in the District of Columbia in 2008, agreed that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited” and recognized limitations on the right to bear arms, including those on “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Patrick said Monday he supports the president’s call for “sensible gun reform,” called for reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban, and, in a move to head off youth violence, called for creation of new crimes when a firearm is used in assaults. He said a bill he has filed to toughen gun laws has languished, and he intends to file additional legislation in the next session.

“It’s a shame that it took a tragedy like Newtown to start this conversation,” said Heather Johnson, a spokeswoman for the governor, “but it’s time for us as a nation to be brave enough to have this debate and to have it now.”

Danvers state Rep. Ted Speliotis, a supporter of gun control measures, said the Bay State has some of the toughest laws in the country, but the shootings in Newtown show there are loopholes. However, the one-gun-a-month waiting period the governor proposes would not have headed off a mass shooting, he said.

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