Sen. Boxer calls for tougher federal gun laws in wake of Arizona shooting
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for tougher federal gun laws, including banning large ammunition clips and federal regulations on concealed weapons permits, in the wake of the shooting rampage in Tucson that killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) gravely wounded.
Boxer, appearing at a press conference in Riverside, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation also should keep track of seriously mentally ill people with a history of violence to ensure they cannot secure gun permits. The accused Arizona gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, had a history of odd mental behavior and was prone to incoherent rants, authorities and acquaintances said.
"I believe we should look at sensible gun laws again. The kind of gun laws we have here in California that give people their gun ownership rights while also preventing the sale of guns to criminals, to people with serious mental illness and people who may abuse a spouse or partner,'' said Boxer, who traveled to Riverside from her home in Rancho Mirage.
"Now I'm not saying that these sensible gun laws would have stopped this killer, but I do know this: It should not be easy for a killer to obtain a weapon that could kill or wound 20 people in just a few heartbeats, and stop those heartbeats,'' Boxer said.
Boxer said Congress should consider reinstating the federal assault weapons ban which expired in 2004. The law banned ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets. Boxer said she will support a proposal by Democratic New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg to ban high-capacity clips such as the 33-round clip that authorities said was attached to Loughner's semiautomatic handgun.
The senator also wants to federalize California's laws on concealed weapons permits, which require approval from local sheriff's or police chiefs and require applicants to explain why the weapons permit is necessary. States that fail to adopt those restrictions should lose federal funding for criminal justice programs, she said.
During the morning news conference, Boxer also called on Congress, the media and the nation as a whole to temper the caustic political rhetoric that's consumed most of the country. As an example, she held up a mock "Liberal Hunting License" that recently was sold on a right-leaning website that showed a donkey –- the symbol of the Democratic party –- with five bullet holes in its torso.
Boxer called on members of Congress from all parties to meet on a more regular basis to help end the partisan rancor. She said that the women in the Senate already do so, with great success.
"We need to rethink what we're saying and the emotions that we may be evoking,'' Boxer said.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside