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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Welch Calls For Congressional Hearings To Address Gun Control

Following this past weekend's mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, Democratic Rep. Peter Welch is calling on House Republican leaders to hold hearings to consider a number of gun control proposals.

But Vermont gun rights leaders says these solutions will have little or no impact on the ability for criminals or terrorists to obtain firearms.

Welch says he's frustrated that Congress over the past decade has not responded to several mass shootings in this country.

He's hoping that most recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida will serve as the catalyst for Congressional action.

Welch supports a ban on assault weapons but says he recognize that there are legitimate Second Amendment issues to consider when new gun restrictions are being reviewed.

"And we've got to begin the discussion," Welch said. "If we don't even have hearings to try to find some common ground to take some common sense steps then frankly I see that as Congress failing to have the courage of doing the basics of its job."

Welch says the plan that enjoys the most political support at this time is to ban people who have been placed on the suspected terrorist "no fly" list from purchasing a gun.

But he says the future of this proposal is very uncertain.

"The fact that we can't even get that bill to a hearing in a committee let alone for a vote on the floor is an indication of how there's an unwillingness on the part of the majority to have even a discussion about what are some common sense steps we could take."

Evan Hughes is the vice president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen Clubs. He doesn't believe that imposing new restrictions will have an impact on gun violence.

"There's nothing that politicians can do to stop determined criminals and terrorists from getting access to what they need to commit their attacks," Hughes said.

Hughes says a number of politicians are making a mistake by comparing automatic assault weapons to semi-automatic rifles - rifles that Hughes says are used by many hunters in Vermont.

"It's perfectly acceptable to use an AR-type weapon for hunting," said Hughes. "It's perfectly legal and all the hunter has to do is use a five round magazine. So a person buys one rifle and they can use it for multiple purposes; target practice, competition and hunting."

Hughes says any Congressional review needs to focus on why individuals are committing acts of mass violence instead of singling out the weapons they use to commit these horrific crimes.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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