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Virginia Lawmakers Conspicuously Silent In Gun Debate

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A bill proposed in the Senate would effectively make the purchase of ammunition illegal on the Internet, but many lawmakers have been silent on the issue.
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A bill proposed in the Senate would effectively make the purchase of ammunition illegal on the Internet, but many lawmakers have been silent on the issue.

Only a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill are floating ideas to tighten U.S. gun laws after the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo. and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Critics say that, much like the aftermath of the shooting at Virginia Tech on 2007, the efforts are going nowhere because of the powerful National Rifle Association. Some Virginia lawmakers won't even talk about gun policy. 

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), for example, isn't talking. He's no stranger to firearms; some might recall the episode in 2007 when one of his top staffers was arrested for carrying the senator's loaded hand gun into a Senate office building. Webb is one of a handful of lawmakers who carries a gun for his own protection, so it surprised some that the retiring senator wouldn't even answer a question about an effort to restrict buying ammunition online.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) also refuses to discuss gun control efforts. The first-term congressman is locked in a tough reelection battle in the 2nd District. He refused to comment for this story through his press secretary.

"The silence is almost deafening when you think about what's happening here," says Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). He wants to require anyone buying ammunition to present identification, effectively ending online ammo sales.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) blames the NRA for silencing U.S. policy makers. "I think the perception, if not the reality, is that it's too dangerous for one's political health to have that conversation," says Connolly.

"It's not a debate we need to have," contends Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), who says U.S. gun and ammunition laws aren't to blame for the recent mass murders in Colorado and Wisconsin and the one at Virginia Tech five years ago. "We have bad people who will do bad things. And you can never protect society completely. But we do the best we can."

The recent massacres of unarmed Americans are drawing attention to U.S. gun laws, but it doesn t seem like this Congress wants to have that discussion.

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