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DFL Sen. Al Franken declined to say today whether he would support tougher gun laws after the school shooting in Connecticut.
Authorities in Newtown, Connecticut said 20 children were killed today along with at least 7 adults, including the gunman. It's the nation's second-deadliest school shooting after the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Franken was asked about tougher gun control laws during an afternoon news conference.
"I'm not sure this is the day to start looking at policy regarding this," Franken said. "This is the day for us to have the victims and their families in our hearts, in our prayers and in our thoughts."
The shooting has groups on both sides of the gun control issue speaking out in Minnesota. The group Protect Minnesota plans a Friday evening rally at a park in south Minneapolis. It says its goals are to reduce gun violence by cutting down on illegal access to guns and promoting measures to stop gun injuries and death, especially among children.
Meanwhile, a group called the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance called on school superintendents and principals to immediately authorize qualified staff and faculty to carry guns at schools.
Several politicians issued statements calling for the nation to come together in light of the tragedy. They include DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, Gov. Dayton, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum issued a statement urging President Obama and Congress to take action on gun control.
"The time has come for President Obama, Congress and the American people to come together to act immediately to end the epidemic of gun violence and the proliferation of guns designed to be weapons of mass murder," McCollum said in a statement.
Update: Ellison is scheduled to appear on MSNBC at 7:20pm to discuss the shooting and "how Congress can address gun violence."(2 Comments)
"The NRA (National Rifle Association) is strong and many of them (members of Congress) take the position that any gun position is going to lead to the position of taking away of all guns," Ellison said. "This is not rational. We need sane, sensible gun regulation and we need it now."
Ellison says his top initiatives would be to address high capacity clips that hold multiple rounds of bullets and greater background checks that require people to submit to background checks before purchasing weapons at gun shows.
"Those are things that we can do now that won't interfere with the right to own a gun but hopefully will avoid and keep guns out of the hands out of the people who are violently unstable," Ellison said.
Ellison also says there needs to be greater access to mental health treatment. He said that would help identify early signs of mental instability which he says lead some to take violent acts.
Ellison has been the most vocal of Minnesota's Congressional delegation to today's shooting. Many others suggested that today was not the day to discuss whether stricter gun control measures are needed.(6 Comments)