Schumer: Gun debate at ‘tipping point’

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, said the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. may open the door to new gun-control legislation.  

“I think we could be at a tipping point for two reasons, a tipping point where we might actually get something done,” Schumer said on CBS’s “Face the Nation”. “First this was not a single incident, it followed a series of others.”

Schumer noted mass shootings earlier this year in Colorado, where a masked gunman killed 12 in a movie theater, Oregon, where a 22-year-old man killed two with an assault rifle, and Wisconsin, where the estranged husband of a spa employee, killed three people.

“Second, of course, it involved children,” Schumer said of the Newtown killings.

Schumer, who helped write the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban as a member of the House, said gun-control proponents would focus on three reforms.

“Reinstate the assault weapons ban, limit the size of clips to maybe no more than 10 bullets per clip, and the third would be to make it harder for mentally unstable people to get guns,” he said.

Arguing for a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines, Schumer reminded viewers that Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and wounded 13, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), was tackled to the ground when he had to stop to reload. 

Schumer called on his allies on the left to recognize the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms, not just the establishment of local militias. He said it’s contradictory for liberals to argue for an expansive reading of the Constitution’s first six amendments except for the Second Amendment.

He said the National Rifle Association (NRA) and conservative proponents of gun rights also need to give some ground. Specifically, they should recognize Congress has power to limit what types of guns may be owned.

“Once we establish that there is a constitutional right to bear arms, we should have the right admit — and maybe they’ll be more willing to admit — that no amendment is absolute. After all, the First Amendment has limitations,” he said. 

Schumer noted that there are laws against libel and regulating pornography.

Schumer said President Obama is “strong” on the issue of gun control and “cares about these issues.”

But Schumer said the president alone cannot break the gridlock over gun control.

“The problem has been the gridlock that I talked about and no one person, not even the president, can break that until we get a new paradigm. That’s what I will be attempting to talk about and do over the next several months,” he said.