WASHINGTON: A top US Democrat said Sunday she would introduce a bill banning assault weapons as soon as the new Congress convenes in January in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Connecticut.
“I m going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” Senator Dianne Feinstein of California told NBC s “Meet the Press” program.
Asked if President Barack Obama, also a Democrat, would throw his support behind the measure, the longtime California lawmaker said: “I believe he will.”
However, in order for the measure to make it through a divided Congress, both the Democratic and Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate would need to back the bill.
Friday s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown claimed the lives of 20 children — aged either six or seven — and six adults.
After killing his mother at the home they shared, officials say the 20-year-old gunman blasted his way into the school, situated in the quaint New England community northeast of New York City.
The latest shooting rampage has triggered a deluge of calls for Obama to address gun control, a politically sensitive issue that he avoided during his first term in the White House despite several high-profile massacres.
A federal ban on assault weapons, which took effect in 1994, expired in 2004 and efforts to revive it have failed. Obama supported restoring the law while running for president in 2008 but did not make it a priority during his first four years.
His timidity on the issue has been attributed to wariness of alienating voters who believe their constitutional right to bear arms is sacred, deserves a broad interpretation and is not to be touched.