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Feinstein leads Democratic senators in call to renew gun debate, vows legislation

Democratic senators flung open the door Sunday for a renewed debate on national gun laws, vowing in the aftermath of the deadly Connecticut school shootings to immediately introduce gun-ban legislation and take the issue to the chamber floor.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will introduce a bill on the first day Congress returns in January to ban the sale of so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity ammunition clips.

“I’m going to introduce it in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House,” Feinstein said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Feinstein, a major supporter of a 10-year ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004, said her renewed effort is to get “weapons of war off the streets.”

She was joined Sunday by Sens. Dick Durbin, Illinois, and Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut, who vowed to bring the issue to Capitol Hill in the coming weeks.

Their promises follow the incident Friday in which a gunman purportedly used semi-automatic weapons inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., to kill 26 people – including 20 first-graders.

Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, said he will hold a hearing in the next few weeks on the issue.

 “We need to sit down and have a quiet and calm conversation on the Second Amendment,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

The senator said the debate has so far been dominated by national gun lobbies “that have agendas.” But he thinks the mass shooting could finally result in more strict laws.

 “I think what happened might at least lead some to sit down” and talk, he said.

Blumenthal said he would not discuss specifics while the nation still grieves but said he intends to talk about gun control on the Senate floor as early as this week.

“We need to do something,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”  

Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert agreed that all parties must come together and have an “open-minded” conversation.

However, he maintained his position that gun ownership is a constitutional right that protects Americans.

“I wish to God (the school principal) had a gun locked up her office” so she could have taken off the shooter’s head, Gohmert said on Fox.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested that gun control should be the top item on President Obama’s second-term agenda and called on him to lead the debate.

“The president has to lead, tell this country what to do,” the Democratic mayor told NBC.

Bloomberg -- whose group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is becoming increasingly vocal about the issue -- also dismissed the notion that the National Rifle Association remains powerful enough to defeat tighter regulations.

“The NRA’s No. 1 objective was to defeat Barack Obama, and he won comfortable,” he said. “And it’s a myth that the NRA is so powerful that Democrats (who voted for the 2004 ban) lost re-election.”

Durbin also called for a national commission on mass violence, an idea that Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman suggested earlier on the Fox show. Durbin called for the commission to also address the issue of school violence.