Leahy Supports Renewal Of Semi-Automatic Gun Ban

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Sen. Patrick Leahy says he’ll support a renewal of a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons. He says he’ll also back a plan to require background checks at all gun shows.

Earlier this week, Leahy announced that he would remain as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, in part, because he wants to help guide the debate over gun control in the next Congress.

Leahy voted for the original ban on semi-automatic assault weapons back in 1994, and he says he’ll support it again.

"Not only will I vote for a similar law, I think that there are a lot more senators in both parties who would today who might not have before," Leahy says.

Leahy says semi-automatic weapons with large magazine clips simply aren’t appropriate for hunting.

"I don’t see a need to have an assault weapon – the type of weapon with magazines carrying 30, 40, 50 rounds – that is not something I ever felt you need to have," says Leahy. "I don’t find many sportsmen, many hunters in Vermont who feel that way either."

Leahy says he’ll also support a plan to require background checks at all gun shows – it’s the closing of the so called gun show loophole.

"I think it should be closed and I have talked to an awful lot of law enforcement people who feel it should be," Leahy says. "Now I know I’m going to hear from people who run gun shows saying it’s terrible they’ll be out of business if they have to do it. Now legitimate gun stores in Vermont have to do that why should somebody who has a traveling gun show why should they be able to not have to do it."

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says that in order for Leahy to be successful, he’ll have to balance the needs of both rural and urban Democrats.

"He’s going to have to use all the political skills that he’s developed in the Senate since 1974 to come up with a package that can make it to the floor, avoid a potential Republican filibuster if that’s the route the Republicans decide to go," says Davis. "And then not die when it gets over to the House side of the Capital."

The Senate Judiciary committee will hold hearings on these issues beginning in January.

Earlier: Leahy Declines Powerful Appropriations Committee Chair

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