By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — In response to the shooting rampage taking 26 lives in Newtown, Conn., state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, said Monday he favors having a national blue ribbon commission set up to suggest solutions for addressing “the culture of violence” that has spawned such mass killings.
Seward called the push for tighter gun control laws “a knee-jerk reaction” that he argued sidesteps the “highly complex and complicated societal issues” that underlie the tragic massacre of 20 schoolchildren and several school staffers in Newtown.
“There is no easy answer to this when you’re dealing with such disturbed and deranged individuals,” the senator said.
He suggested that mental health experts and those who have studied the psychological effects of viewing violent video games ought to be included in a national study.
In Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that he wants to see a federal ban on assault weapons reinstated.
“The most efficient, effective vehicle is a federal law,” Cuomo said. He also said his office would review current state laws, but did not specify how he would change them.
Seward said he believes the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding and store their weapons in safe and secure locations.
“We just have this segment of our society that falls into this culture of violence,” he said. “I think that is the issue rather than the weapons.”
Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, echoed Seward’s remarks, saying he wants to see a “thoughtful” investigation that would shed light on the “root causes” behind Friday’s massacre that police have said was carried out by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.
The Hartford Courant reported over the weekend that law enforcement sources in Connecticut revealed that Lanza, who lived with his divorced mother, was a fan of graphically violent video games.
“The big issue is to understand why this happened,” Lopez said.
Otsego County Democratic Chairman Richard Abbate said he expects public support for a ban on semi-automatic weapons will grow in the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“We don’t need these types of weapons on the streets,” he said.
In Albany, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, told reporters he supports a ban on assault rifles and the magazines that accompany them, but it is unclear whether the coalition controlling the state Senate — Republicans with an amalgam of five breakaway Democrats — would support such prohibitions.
In Washington over the weekend, long-time gun control advocate Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he expects the Sandy Hook killings will be the “tipping point” that will nudge lawmakers to ban assault weapons. He advocates reinstating the assault weapons ban and restrictions that would prevent mentally unstable people from acquiring guns.