Calling the massacre in Newtown a "game changer", U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) a moderate and reliable pro-2nd amendment vote is ready to open the door to discussions on an assault weapons ban.
The debate over guns is an example of the many ways Warner works to place himself in the middle of the political spectrum. His "A" rating from the NRA has played well in red parts of the Commonwealth that other Democrats have had a hard time gaining any traction. Overwhelmingly popular in Virginia, Warner has a had a difficult time making progress on substantive legislation in the Senate. This issue, of which he is uniquely positioned to address, could have a significant impact.
In addition to a discussion on assault weapons Warner also plans to address the "nexis" between mental health and gun purchases. A huge issue for gun control advocates in Virginia in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy. Many gun control proponents believe Virginia has not done enough to reign in access to firearms like the ones used by Seung-Hui Cho . The so-called "gun show loophole" never made any serious progress in Virginia's legislature despite the momentum after the Tech tragedy.
We are still waiting to learn the substance of what Warner plans to propose. He is scheduled to meet with reporters at 1pm. I'll have more tonight on NBC12 News this evening.
UPDATE: Warner did not go into deep specifics as to what he hopes to at least look into. He listed assault weapons, rapid ammunition clips and rapid fire weapons as part of what the discussion on a possible ban or new restrictions should be about.
"There had got to be a way as we look at reasonable restrictions, particularly as we look at assault weapons as we look at some of this fast clips of ammunition, as a way that preserves a right for responsible gun ownership but puts appropriate restrictions on access on these especially these rapid fire weapons into hands of folks who are as in this case and as we saw in Virginia Tech and Colorado, unstable," Warner said.
His full interview with our Mike Valerio can be seen below:
Here is my report from NBC12 on how Warner and Gov. Bob McDonnell are handling the new reality of the gun debate: