January 5th, 2013
04:34 PM ET
10 years ago

Don't call it gun control, says Democrats' point person on the issue

(CNN) - The Californian picked to lead congressional Democrats' efforts on gun control says the positions held by some gun rights advocates are unnecessarily divisive, and that government action should go beyond simply outlawing certain weapons.

"I think assault weapons are a pox on the home of every gun owner," Rep. Mike Thompson said Saturday on CNN. "I think that's the thing that's going to cause the overwhelming majority of people in this country who aren't gun owners to have negative feelings about those of us who are gun owners."

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Thompson is a gun owner and hunter himself, as well as a member of and former leader of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. Before his career in politics, Thompson was a staff sergeant in the Army. When noting his opposition to assault weapons, he recalls, "I carried one in Vietnam."

He is leading the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, the group appointed by fellow Californian and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In her words, the panel will work with President Barack Obama and others to "ban assault weapons and assault magazines."

Obama separately named a group led by Vice President Joe Biden and called for "meaningful action" to prevent future mass shootings.

Supporters of gun control said the December 14 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 students dead was even more horrific than other recent mass shootings and marked a turning point in the discussion.

They have introduced dozens of gun-related bills in the new Congress, which began on Thursday, including proposals to renew the assault weapons ban which lapsed in 2004 and has not been reinstated since.

Meanwhile some opponents of gun control, including the National Rifle Association, say the Newtown shooting and other incident point to the need for reform in the other direction: putting guns in the hands of security guards, school administrators and teachers who could use weapons to protect their students.

A CNN/ORC poll conducted in mid-December days after the Connecticut shooting found 15% of American supported making all guns illegal, 37% supported major restrictions on guns, 33% supported minor restrictions, and 13% supported no restrictions on guns. Support for a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons stood at 62%. Forty six percent said the government and society could take actions to prevent another mass shooting, and 53% said that was not possible. It had a sampling error of plus or minus four points.

Thompson said all sides should be at the table, "but you're not going to solve this issue by arming every school teacher or every principal."

He has specifically said he favors outlawing assault weapons and large ammunition magazines, strengthening requirements for background checks on gun purchasers, and "making sure appropriate mental health services are available."

Among the members of his panel are freshman Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who now represents the area including Newtown; Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed in a 1993 mass shooting; and Rep. Ron Barber, who was wounded in the 2011 Arizona mass shooting which nearly killed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber was her chief of staff and was elected to the seat after her resignation.

The phrase "gun control," Thompson said, is not comprehensive enough for the discussion.

"A lot of times when you talk about gun control, you turn off more than half of your audience," he said in the interview. Possible solutions can include "everything from the background checks to the assault magazines, the assault weapons, the mental health (system) capacities that we have, our culture of violence that seems to be so overwhelming right now."

Filed under: Gun rights
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Dave

    It's nice that Thompson carried a semi auto rifle in Vietnam. Surprising he survived when every other soldier on both sides an actual select assault weapon.

    January 5, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Moose

    The Obam campaign was just fined for a ethics charge, why wont CNN comment on that ??? As far as gun control, its more of mental health ISSUE and if PARENTS WOULD RAISE THIER KIDS RIGHT instead of having schools feed them and baby sit them, A lot of this garbage would stop. I am tired of paying for unresponsable parents mistakes. IF YOU CANT HANDLE CHILDREN DONT HAVE THEM. Do not pawn them off on the school system

    January 5, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. JCM (@JCM1776)

    He's right it's not gun control, it's denial of Liberty. It is tyranny by any name.

    January 5, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Demouk

    Call it what ever you want. WE know it's just a smoke screen to cover your long term goal of a total ban on firearms. You are wasting time and money trying to create criminals out of everyone who owns a gun. Why not try catching more actual criminals. Leave the tens of millions of gun owners who committed no crimes alone.

    January 5, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. Steve L

    The only thing you can do is arm someone at the school. A person can kill with any gun. I can fire a six shot revolver at a target and use all of the rounds in mere seconds, reload in seconds and do the same thing. Outlawing a gun because it looks like a M16 and ejects spent rounds automatically may make someone feel good but it does absolutely nothing. A bullet kills even small rounds like a .22. You stop a guy with a gun with another guy with a gun. And the more time it takes for the good guy to get on scene, the more body bags will be needed. End of story.

    January 5, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    I really do not are what this guy says, he is not perfect example. This nation needs GUN-CONTROL LAWS. Pass it. Period. Don't you know 26 innocent kids killed, today in COLORADO, ARORA 4 killed. How long this massacre continue???

    January 5, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Randy, San Francisco

    Stop the killing and madness. Ban assault weapons, high capacity magazines, armour piercing bullets, and bullet proof vests. It is a disgrace that more Americans die every year of gun violence at home than in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    January 5, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. Moose

    Delaware taxpayers appear to be getting soaked twice under a deal in which the Democratic governor loaned $21.5 million to a hybrid electric carmaker to set up shop in the state. The company has yet to produce a car in Delaware, and taxpayers are footing the electric bill for the idle plant.

    How Quick we forget what are so called leaders have done, ck out the latest on clash for clunkers, im sure cnn will block this

    January 5, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. B Caspar

    What is required is responsible gun ownership. To the NRA and those who enjoy hunting and target shooting, the government is not going to take your guns away, however, with gun ownership comes responsibilty and sensibility. Have your rifles and shotguns. Enjoy them. To obtain a firearm it should be required that you complete a gun safety course. The NRA should be able to provide assistance here. While you are taking the course their will be a background check for criminal activity and mental health. You pass everything and you receive a "Firearms Aquisition License" now you can buy a rifle or shotgun and ammunition. You must show your "License" . Hand Guns – Restricted License. They can only be kept in your home or at a Gun Club because it is the only place that you can shoot them. All weapons must be kept in a locked, fire proof gun safe that is secured to the building structure. Keeps them safe from Children and criminals. Firearms being transported must be empty and in a case in the trunk of the vehicle. Safet First. Assault Weapons and clips of more than 10 rounds – Banned- no :Grandfathering" Turn them all in. You can't own or possess an assault type weapon the same as you can't own a machine gun, rocket launcher, etc. There. Your 2nd. Amendment rights have not been attacked. You can enjoy your guns and America is a much safer place. Does it work? Look at Canada. It does

    January 5, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    Dems are basically fools. The want to blame the tool, instead of the perpetrator.

    January 5, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. doctorg

    Democrats want to take away guns so that if the United States becomes a dictatorship or goes communist there is no way to fight against the few who control the many. They don't care about the children, their constituents, or the Constitution. Gun laws remove guns from lawful Americans. They only serve to disarm the honest people and let the dishonest people control them. You will be left with armed politicians and criminals.

    January 5, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. Bigmoosebelly

    Did you see the clip running now on you tube? hammers and bats kill more Americans than all rifles combined!!!! FBI STATS. Looks like the Media and the government are trying to pull the wool over our eyes!!!! Lets scare them and use words like ASSAULT WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!!
    Please lookup the facts from unbiased sources. Millions of Americans enjoy the Ar-15 style guns and that is why it is so popular so learn the real truth. YES BATS ARE KILLING MORE AMERICANS!!!! If you really want to save lives>Americans are dying 8/1 ratio to that of guns from Alcohol. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BAN ALCOHOL!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  13. Name lynn

    well it is what it is guns guns an guns laws what can the law makers do about letting the wrong people get guns in there hands how can they stop all this shooting an killing

    January 5, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. nov_284

    Standard liberal procedure: change the words without changing the substance so that you can force your agenda on people.

    January 5, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. PaulG

    Call it what you want, but the speed and intensity they rush to BAN this BAN that underscores their agenda. Take your same poll today or two weeks from now and see where the results are. You guys are trying really hard to ban on emotional response which will lead to infringing and needlessly restrictive policy. We lived through the ban years and it did nothing because this class of weapons in only used in ~1% of crimes. Work on the real issues that lead to gun violence and enforce existing law.

    January 5, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Kermit

    Are any of these proposed bills dealing with the responsibility of citizens to secure their weapons? It seems like most of these shooters are not the legal owners of the weapons they are using. Tightening background checks won't fix that. Every citizen that has the right to bear arms should also have a duty to secure them.

    January 5, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. Kermit

    Do any of the proposed bills deal with the gun owners responsibility to secure their weapons? In several of these shootings, the shooter is not the lawful owner of the weapons. Tightening background checks and smaller magazines won't solve that problem. Every citizen that exercises their right to keep and bear arms should have a duty to secure them.

    January 5, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. bonjourno

    gun laws have existed a long time, but the fact of the matter is, crime has been and will be around for a long time. what needs to be overhauled, is, the allotted ammount per person, and thorough background checks! once that is done, extensive training, in useage and storage!

    January 5, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. Rev. J.T.

    "Our [US] culture of violence" isn't limited to firearms. It's pervasive and endemic and includes sports both seemingly innocuous (football) and extreme (cage fights), politics (the Tea-Republicans vow to "fight" Obama's agenda) and video entertainment such as films and games, etc. The Peace which Christ taught and practiced is given only lip service–not wide-spread implementation in daily life. It begs the question of whether or not the US is "civilized."

    January 5, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. SLB

    We hear so much talk about the rights of gun owners. Don't those of us who don't have and don't want to carry guns have rights too? Why aren't our rights just as important?

    January 5, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  21. plain&simple

    Responsible gun ownership involves,keeping a record of sales at gun shows, and10 round clips. Everyone who sells a gun and no paperwork is filed are responsible for that guns use. Just like when you sell a car,if It's involved in a accident and It's still registered in your name your in trouble! When guns are stolen report it. What are the problems with this? This way if bad people do buy guns we might have a chance of knowing it.

    January 5, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. Truth Detector

    First they want to change the definition of 'marriage', now they want to change the definition of 'gun control'. SMH

    January 5, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  23. madnessofjack

    Since hammers kill more people than "assault weapons" do......lets ban hammers.
    Since knives kill more people than "assault weapons" do......lets ban knives too.
    For that matter...since blunt objects kill more people than 'assault weapons" do......lets ban blunt objects, including fists and feet.

    If you wish to extend that argument and premise of "bans" on objects because they cause fatalities.....you will find things like automobiles, plastic bags, household chemicals, scarfs or backyard pools at risk of "banning".

    Yes, I can hear your "but, but they arent designed to KILL".

    Problem is that the sheer number of children "casualties" negates that argument, especially when looking at total sums. It presupposes that your "logic" centers on the "lives saved" premise.
    There are far, far more children killed by non-firearm objects in the same time reference than by firearm homicide....or even total homicides.
    From The National Center for Health Statistics in 2007...If you can find a newer stat...list it.
    6,683 children died from auto accidents(2007)
    1,056 children died from drowning(2007)
    1,263 children died from strangulation, suffocation(2007)
    Children being intentionally killed by firearms..assuming all types...2,186

    Totals....Unintentional Child Mortality(2007) 11,560
    Firearm Child Homicide(2007) 2,186

    January 5, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  24. Rob Jones

    They can call gun control whatever they want to call it, but if it involves reducing our rights further with one more law on top of the other 20 thousand, they can stick it where the sun doesnt shine.

    January 5, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. AK_steve

    Wanting sensible gun laws doesn't make you anti-gun any more than wanted sensible traffic laws makes you anti-car.

    You can't drive a car from NASCAR on the highway. Why in the world does a anyone not in the military need an assault weapon?

    January 5, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
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