By Meghashyam Mali - 01/06/13 08:38 PM EST
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) on Sunday panned the White House’s reported gun-control proposals as “extreme.”
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” the senator said that while she was open to a broad discussion on ways to prevent gun violence in the wake of December’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., she doubted that the administration’s likely proposals would garner support on Capitol Hill.
A report in the Post released Saturday said the White House working group on gun violence was considering measures, including universal background checks for all gun buyers, strengthened mental health examinations and tougher penalties for those caught carrying firearms near schools.
Those proposals would go well beyond the bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which the president has called on Congress to pass.
The White House gun-violence group, led by Vice President Biden, was established in response to the killing of 26 people, including 20 elementary school students, in Newtown last month.
The incident has renewed debate over the nation’s gun laws, with Democrats and the president pushing for new restrictions.
Proponents of gun-ownership rights, however, say that the focus should be on broader issues, including mental health treatment and the role of violence in entertainment culture.
Heitkamp, who holds an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby, said the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School called for more attention on mental health issues.
“One of the issues that I think comes — screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill,” said Heitkamp. “And so we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control."