Congressman Peter DeFazio, whose own hometown of Springfield made national headlines in 1998 with the deadly Thurston High School shootings, says this week that Congress “will need to address a number of critical issues next year and this [mass shootings] should be a top priority.”
DeFazio says he agrees with President Obama and “many of my colleagues who have said we must have a dialogue about how to best address and prevent future acts of violence.” He adds, “I am encouraged that Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senator Leahy promised to begin hearings to move towards such an approach in the next Congress and I would encourage leadership on the House side to do the same.”
He says congress should look at reinstatement of the “so-called assault weapons ban,” which expired in 2003; the reinstatement of a Clinton-era safe cities program, which helped partner local law enforcement with state, federal and other agencies to “comprehensively address the root causes of gun violence”; addressing “violence in the media, inadequate mental health services, stronger community partnerships to help identify individuals at risk of violence and get them assistance before they act, and better restrictions to prevent prohibited persons from getting access to firearms.”
“I believe that the next Congress should promptly consider these ideas and any other that could effectively prevent future tragedies like this,” he says, “Last week’s violent rampage at Sandy Hook was an incomprehensible and devastating act.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley’s office did not respond by press time to a request for comment.