- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2013

After conducting their own independent review of gun violence, House Democrats on Thursday outlined new gun-control proposals very similar to the White House plan: Broader background checks and bans on military-style semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The House task force, led by Chairman Mike Thompson, California Democrat, did call for addressing violence in video games, movies and television, which was something President Obama left off his recommendations.

But as the minority party in the House, Democrats conceded they are likely to be at the mercy of what the Democrat-controlled Senate can pass.

“We believe that all of the proposals that have been made by the task force work together to make us safer in our homes, in our businesses and children in our schools, so that we would hope that all of these [pass], but we’ll have to see what happens in the Senate,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.

Their 15-point plan also calls for strengthening the FBI’s instant background check system and closing loopholes in the country’s mental health system.

The National Rifle Association, which has led the charge against the administration’s efforts on gun control, summarily rejected the House Democrats’ ideas.

“The last thing America needs is more failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems,” said Chris W. Cox, the group’s chief lobbyist. “Congress should instead focus its energies on the things that will actually keep our families and communities safer — prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms; securing our schools; and fixing the broken mental health system that keeps dangerously ill people on the street.”

In the wake of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Obama has urged Congress to pass a series of changes, and he repeated that plea while meeting with House Democrats at a retreat in Virginia on Thursday.

“What we know is the majority of responsible gun owners recognize we cannot have a situation in which 20 more of our children, or 100 more of our children, or 1,000 more of our children are shot and killed in a senseless fashion, and that there are some common-sense steps that we can take and build a consensus around,” Mr. Obama said. “And we cannot shy away from taking those steps.”

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who rallied fellow Democrats earlier this week on the issue, will travel to Philadelphia on Monday to hold a roundtable on gun violence with law enforcement and members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed that 92 percent of registered voters support background checks for all gun sales; 56 percent support bans on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips, but a plurality — 46 percent to 43 percent — say the NRA better reflects their views on guns compared to Mr. Obama.

The poll, conducted Jan. 30 to Feb. 4, surveyed 1,772 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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