Gun-control debate returns -- quietly

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

In the wake of the Colorado massacre that left 12 dead and 58 more injured, lawmakers sounded off on gun control, but little consensus was met and most seemed to feel that no concrete action would be taken despite the recent tragedy.

Even as emerging details indicate the gunman implicated in the tragedy had legally purchased at least six firearms, including a semiautomatic weapon, gun control remains a divisive issue in the U.S. The lawmaker who represents the district in which the massacre took place, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, admitted that the conversation about gun control “really isn’t taking place” in Colorado, and said Congress should take up the problem.

“I think this is really a congressional issue that has to be dealt with. Should we reinstate the assault weapons ban? I think we should, and that’s where it starts,” he said on CBS' Face the Nation, referring to the 10-year assault weapons ban that was passed in 1994 but has since expired with little outcry.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein agreed on Fox News Sunday, saying that “weapons of war don’t belong on the streets.” But she admitted that now, in the middle of an election year and fights over looming tax increases and budget cuts, might not be the best time for such a debate.

“I think this is a bad time to brace a new subject, but there has been no action. There has been no action because there has been no outrage out there,” she said.

Feinstein added that part of the reason lawmakers were unwilling to take up the issue is because of reelection concerns: “The gun organizations go out to defeat people in states where they can,” she said. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., expressed the same sentiment on NBC’s Meet the Press, saying that while she’s not personally concerned about the National Rifle Association coming after her, other politicians lack “spine.”

“The thing of it is, as a politician, a lot of politicians know it's the right thing to try to fight for something to save lives. They don't have the spine anymore. They pander to who's giving them money,” she said.

However, the chorus of Democratic voices in favor of gun-control laws on Sunday didn’t overcome statements from various Republicans over the past few days in support of Second Amendment rights, a cry that was taken up again on Sunday by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. He insisted that the massacre had less to do with failed gun-control laws and more to do, simply, with the deranged act of a lone individual.

“This isn’t an issue about guns. This is just really an issue about sick, demented individuals,” he said on Fox News Sunday, adding that “it is a tragedy, and I don’t think there’s a solution here in Washington.”

Kelsey Snell contributed to this article.

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