Digital Version of November/December 2014 Print Edition
Senators call for comprehensive commission on violence in wake of attack
As President Obama amplified his call for tighter gun control efforts in the coming year, a group of key senators urged the White House to consider creating a national committee that would take a comprehensive look at violence in the U.S.
In a Dec. 27 letter to Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) encouraged Biden to recommend establishing the committee when he submits the conclusions of his task force on gun violence to the president and Congress in January.
Obama ratcheted up his call for more comprehensive gun control on Dec. 30 in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” saying the Dec. 14 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, which claimed the lives of 20 schoolchildren and seven adults was the “worst day of my presidency.” He said he hoped to move some form of gun control legislation through Congress in the coming year.
In the days following the shootings, Obama appointed Biden to head a task force aimed at finding ideas on how to stem gun violence.
The senators asked Biden to consider the National Commission on Violence as a part of those recommendations, adding a similar proposal had been submitted in the wake of the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School.
The letter is one of the final acts in congress for Sen. Lieberman and Collins, as they leave office on Jan. 3.
“We believe that the root causes of this violence are complex and that responding to and preventing it will require a comprehensive approach that leaves no stone unturned,” said the letter to Biden.
A comprehensive approach, they said, would strengthen mental health care system, improve law enforcement, and keep guns out of the hands of those who would do ill with them. It would also address an entertainment culture “that too often glorifies violence, they said, adding “it will be essential to build a consensus grounded in facts. The recommendations of a National Commission on Violence could provide the basis for such a consensus.”