WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPRI) - Rhode Island's congressional delegation is expressing support for President Barack Obama's order assembling a task force charged with delivering gun safety recommendations by January.
U.S. Congressman David Cicilline said while he's disappointed that bills aimed at restricting access to guns have laid dormant for years, he doesn't blame the president.
"This is really action Congress needs to take, both in the House and Senate," Cicilline said during a taping of WPRI 12's Newsmakers. "We have bills pending right now that we could pass that would make a real difference."
Cicilline – who has long supported tougher gun laws dating back to his years as mayor of Providence – has co-sponsored several pieces of legislation, including one to eliminate high-capacity clips that carry dozens of bullets.
"It's only purpose is to spray great number of bullets in a very short period of time," Cicilline said. "There is no justification for having that out in the community."
Congressman Jim Langevin has also called on stricter gun laws and renewed his pledge on Wednesday.
"We won't find one easy answer to address gun violence, but it should be common sense to go after the large capacity ammunition feeding devices addressed by this legislation as a first step in a comprehensive approach," Langevin said in a statement.
U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse both have been vocal in their support for tougher gun laws.
"The approach outlined by President Obama today to examine existing proposals and put together a comprehensive plan to deal with gun violence is a good first step in the process," Whitehouse spokesman Seth Larson said in a statement. "Senator Whitehouse hopes we can move rapidly to get something done."
Whitehouse is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be the first stop for any gun legislation that goes through the Senate.
When asked if he is concerned about violence in video games, TV shows and movies, Cicilline said the country needs to address bullying and the "culture of violence ... in a holistic way."
"We should be doing that in the long term," Cicilline said. "But in the short term we should be taking actions right now."
The entire delegation has called for closing a so-called "gun show loophole," where private sellers are not required to perform background checks on potential buyers.
"We need to close loopholes that allow 40 percent of gun sales to go without a background check, no questions asked," Cicilline said. "We need to fix that system."
On Wednesday Obama announced an administration-wide effort to examine ways to curb gun violence. He tapped Vice President Joe Biden to lead the group, which he says will include members of his cabinet.
The president is asking the task force to come up with "concrete proposals" no later than January - "proposals that I then intend to push without delay," Obama said.
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