The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 18, 2012

Republicans say gun control should be debated

(Continued)

Grassley said Monday: "It certainly can't be a debate just about guns. There must also be a serious and thoughtful discussion on mental health issues" as well as a culture that "tends to be less civil now than it has been for a long period of time."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Mayors wrote the president and Congress calling for "stronger gun laws, a reversal of the culture of violence in this country, a commission to examine violence in the nation, and more adequate funding for the mental health system."

Specifically, the mayors asked for:

—A ban on assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines.

—Strengthening the national background check system.

—Strengthening the penalties for straw purchases of guns, in which legal buyers acquire weapons for other people.

The NRA has deep pockets and a scorecard to back lawmakers who support gun rights, but Manchin said Monday, "I'm not afraid to say, 'Let's talk about that.'" Manchin told reporters, "I'm not afraid of the political ramifications."

In an earlier statement Manchin said, "This awful massacre of our youngest children has changed us, and everything should be on the table." He added that the discussion should include mental health treatment, assault-style weapons, high-capacity magazines, video games, movies and a culture that seems to glorify violence.

Reid told the Senate, "In the coming days and weeks, we will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow." He added, "And every idea should be on the table as we discuss how best to do just that."

In July, after 12 people were murdered in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Reid said the Senate's schedule was too packed to have a debate on gun control.

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