By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — Describing herself as “heartbroken” by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren yesterday said she would support the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons and other “commonsense gun control measures.”
Warren, who will be sworn into the U.S. Senate in January, said she plans to sign on to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill to reinstate the assault weapons ban on the national level.
The ban expired in September 2004 and has not been reinstated despite support for it from President Barack Obama. Massachusetts bans assault weapons under its own state law, which critics say contains loopholes that allow thousands of assault weapons to be legally owned in the state.
Massachusetts lawmakers and Gov. Deval Patrick are looking at their own ways to strengthen state gun control laws.
“The ultimate causes of such tragedy are impossible to understand fully, but the difficulty of untangling all the elements is not an excuse for failing to do what we can to make our children safer. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our children to take the steps we can to stop the violence,” Warren wrote in a letter to supporters.
Warren, who lives in Cambridge and was born in Oklahoma, said she grew up in a household with guns where her brother hunted and she learned to shoot when she was in grade school.
“I understand the role that hunting and guns play in many communities across the country. There can be a place for responsible gun ownership in our society. But no one needs military-grade assault weapons to hunt, and no one needs Rambo-style high capacity magazines to protect their family from intruders,” Warren said.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who was defeated by Warren in November but could be ready to run again soon if U.S. Sen. John Kerry leaves for the State Department, said during the campaign that he supports the assault weapons ban in Massachusetts, but believes gun control is an issue best left to states.
Also yesterday, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas decried a “culture of violence” in America, saying the Newtown massacre should represent a call to action on gun control legislation.
“Members from both sides of the aisle have acknowledged that it is time for a conversation about the accessibility of high capacity weapons in our country and the culture of violence we live in,” Tsongas, D-Lowell, said during remarks on the U.S. House floor.
Urging bipartisan cooperation on “real changes that will provide real protection for America’s families,” Tsongas said “America’s laws must reasonably control gun manufacturing, sales and usage.”