Atlanta senator to propose statewide assault weapons ban

2:05 AM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The National Rifle Association on Tuesday issued its first statement since the tragedy in Newtown, CT, saying the NRA will offer some proposals on Friday "to help make sure this never happens again."

The NRA's "four million moms and dads, sons and daughters... were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.... The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again," said the statement.

Republican House Leaders met at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, and then told reporters that many of the most passionate, gun-freedom advocates in the House are willing to discuss regulations.

Rep. Jack Kingston, (R) GA, was quoted by Reuters as saying, "There may be more support of discussion at this point among the pro-gun Democrats and Republicans.... Mental health is a huge part of it. No rational person squeezes the trigger in the face of a 6-year-old."

And in Atlanta Tuesday night, that's what State Senator Vincent Fort, (D) Atlanta, was saying.

Fort believes there now may be ways for gun-rights advocates and gun-control advocates in the legislature to figure out "a comprehensive approach," addressing mental health issues and getting at the causes of violence, as well as banning assault weapons, statewide.

"If it means people disagreeing and debating and discussing, and have a conversation about this, so be it. But to do nothing is a crime in and of itself," Fort said. "If we do nothing, I know kids, more children, will die. We have to come together."

Sen. Fort said he is drafting legislation now and expects to introduce it when the legislature reconvenes next month. He called it "a very complex issue" that is going to require input and ideas and solutions from both sides of the aisle.

"All legislators are troubled by this." Fort said. "The question is, will they have the courage to engage in a sincere debate? ....What I think we need to do is look at a whole range of options. This is a very complex issue. People on both sides, I think, need to accept that complexity, and look at mental health issues" involved with those crimes that have been "perpetrated by young men who have personality disorders, emotional problems.... One of the things in the state of Georgia and around the country, we've cut back mental health services. We've got to understand that the mental health issues, in dealing with them, are absolutely critical.... I think we need a comprehensive approach that includes looking at mental health, that looks at, you know, gun show loopholes.... And if we can do a ban [on assault weapons] in the state of Georgia, I think that would be an advance on this issue."

Reuters contributed to this article

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