Sponsor of 1994 assault weapons ban says bipartisan support needed for new laws

December 20, 2012

Federal legislation aimed at limiting assault-style weapons is being discussed in Washington, after last week’s mass murders at an elementary school in Connecticut. Former Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini was one of the sponsors of a similar bill 18 years ago. He says there are similarities between then and now. KJZZ’s Al Macias reports.

AL MACIAS: The 1994 weapons ban was part of a larger anti-crime bill and followed the 1989 shootings of more than 30 people at a Stockton, Calif. school. Five children died in that attack. The law expired in 2004. Senator DeConcini says the National Rifle Association opposed the ban but there was enough congressional support to get the ban approved. He says now he sees some support building but there still seems to be a fear of the NRA lobby.

DENNIS DECONCINI: You see the movement in the Senate by some of the most strongest gun protector senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, at least talking about it but in the House you don’t see much.

MACIAS: Deconcini also sees differences this time around. He says in 1994 the focus was solely on weapons. This time he says there is also talk about dealing with the need for mental health care.

DECONCINI: It’s a great opportunity to deal with both. Because you have a hard time if you are a really hard, hard core Second Amendment advocate that don’t want any kind of government disturbance, you have a hard time rationalizing that anyone with mental instability should have that same constitutional right.

MACIAS: Senator DeConcini says support from conservative political leaders will be needed to pass any new type of weapons ban through Congress.

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