BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Count Sen. Jeff Sessions as a no vote against President Barack Obama's gun control proposals.
Considered among the senate's most conservative members and consistently among Obama's critics, Sessions opposition comes as no surprise. Sessions has also accepted political donations in the past from the influential National Rifle Association, as has every member of the Alabama congressional delegation except for Birmingham Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell. The NRA has long opposed efforts to control guns.
"I just don't see how you can constitutionally or rationally expect semiautomatic weapons to go away and I'm not going to be supportive," said Sessions during a meeting with al.com.
Sessions did back a little bit away from blanket opposition a little later when asked if there were any gun control proposals he could support that might help avert the kind of mass murder seen last month at a Connecticut school. That attack saw a gunman, heavily armed with the kinds of weapons Obama's proposals seek to ban, kill 20 first-graders and six educators.
"I think the people who support Second Amendment rights, like myself, think we should think this through and take our time and let's hear the arguments," said Sessions. "We are not going to be rushed into creating a law that would not have had any impact on this shooting or virtually any other shooting."
Speaking at the White House today, Obama announced the most aggressive effort in years to control and ban some weapons while also pushing for expanded background checks on those who buy guns.
A former Alabama attorney general and one-time U.S. attorney, Sessions has been a strong supporter of laws that have aimed to increase punishment for the use of guns used by persons in the commission of a crime.
But, Sessions said he does not support limiting the rights of what he called "every day law abiding Americans" to purchase guns, including assault weapons with high capacity clips that can fire dozens of rounds in seconds. Sessions said people bent on harm or those who may suffer from a mental illness; don't need semiautomatic weapons to hurt people.
"I just don't see it," Sessions said of Obama's gun control proposals. "You have shotguns that can be reloaded. You have pistols with a clip."
Sessions expressed some support for efforts aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill, but developing a law and a support system to do that is "a hard thing, a very hand thing," said Sessions.
Sessions said the explosion in violent video games has long worried him and causes him to be concerned about what role they have played in shootings like the one in Connacutte.
Outside of the strong emotions that have surged since last month's shootings, Sessions said the drive to limit gun rights is really driven those who just don't like guns.
"There is a strong movement by a significant number of people, a minority, that really don't like guns," said Sessions. They grew up in the city, they never hunted. They're not familiar with guns. They see guns as very dangerous things. They don't want them around. If it was up to them we wouldn't have guns period.
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