BOSTON (State House News Service) - Describing herself as "heartbroken" by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday said she would support the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons and other "commonsense gun control measures."
Warren, who will be sworn into the U.S. Senate in January, said she plans to sign on to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bill to reinstate the assault weapons ban on the national level.
The ban expired in September 2004 and has not been reinstated despite support for it from President Barack Obama. Massachusetts bans assault weapons under its own state law, which critics say contains loopholes that allow thousands of assault weapons to be legally owned in the Bay State.
Massachusetts lawmakers and Gov. Deval Patrick are looking at their own ways to strengthen state gun control laws.
"The ultimate causes of such tragedy are impossible to understand fully, but the difficulty of untangling all the elements is not an excuse for failing to do what we can to make our children safer. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our children to take the steps we can to stop the violence," Warren wrote in a letter to supporters.
Warren, who lives in Cambridge and was born in Oklahoma, said she grew up in a household with guns where her brother hunted and she learned to shoot when she was in grade school.
"I understand the role that hunting and guns play in many communities across the country. There can be a place for responsible gun ownership in our society. But no one needs military-grade assault weapons to hunt, and no one needs Rambo-style high capacity magazines to protect their family from intruders," Warren said.
Warren alluded to the billboard next to Fenway Park on the Massachusetts Turnpike owned by Stop Handgun Violence that has a counter tracking the number of children killed by guns in the United States. She said she passed the billboard nearly every week on the campaign trail, sometimes three or four times a day, always looking to see how the number changed.
"Over the past two years, more than 6,000 children have been killed by guns. The number jumped by twenty little children last Friday, and then it climbed on Saturday, on Sunday, and kept on climbing as other children died," Warren said.
The senator-elect also said she would support the Fix Gun Checks Act, which would close a loophole that allows as much as 40 percent of gun purchases in the country to take place at gun shows, online, or person-to-person without a federal background check.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who was defeated by Warren in November but could be ready to run again soon if U.S. Sen. John Kerry leaves for the State Department, said during the campaign that he supports the assault weapons ban in Massachusetts, but believes gun control is an issue best left to states.
The National Rifle Association of America released a statement Tuesday, saying the organization is "made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.
"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again," the statement said.
The NRA plans a news conference in the Washington D.C. area on Friday.
Copyright State House News Service