Lieberman calls for ‘national commission’ on culture of ‘violence’

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Sunday called for a “national commission on violence,” in the wake of Friday’s shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

“I’m always reluctant about commissions, but I really believe we ought to have a national commission on violence,” said Lieberman, according to a White House pool report. “These events are happening more frequently and I worry that if we don’t take a thoughtful look at them, we’re going to lose the hurt and the anger that we have now.”

Lieberman spoke with reporters briefly in Newtown, where he was accompanying President Obama and other lawmakers for a vigil service for the 20 children killed when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.

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Lieberman suggested the commission should have a broad scope and not focus only on the nation’s gun-control restrictions.  

“That includes looking at violence in the entertainment culture, mental health services and, of course, gun laws,” he said.

Lieberman added that the commission should not be seen as a substitute for action from the White House and Congress to strengthen gun control, calling for restore the assault weapons ban and closing the so-called “gun show loophole.”

“Right now the background checks that the Brady Law has, if you go into a licensed federal firearms dealer, you got to be subject to, are pretty good,” said Lieberman. “But if you go into a gun show or you go and buy a gun from some antique dealer, you’re not checked at all.”

The tragedy has sparked a renewed debate over gun control, with President Obama calling for “meaningful action.” The White House, though, has not specified which measures they would consider.

On Sunday, a number of Democratic senators took to the Sunday morning shows and said they were ready to act and said the nation would support renewed efforts to stem gun violence.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a prominent gun-control advocate, said she intended to re-introduce the federal assault weapons ban at the start of the next session of Congress. 

Lawmakers passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, but it expired a decade later. The controversial measure was seen as a political liability for Democrats who backed it and many believe it was a factor in the GOP recapturing the House in 1994.

But after a number of mass shootings this year, which pushed the issue back into the national spotlight, Democrats believe the ban could again pass Congress.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday that the killings in Newtown had shifted the debate. 

“I think that what happened in Newtown, Conn., may at least lead some to finally decide to sit down and have this conversation,” said Durbin on “Fox News Sunday.” “I really think we may have a chance because of this terrible tragedy.”