The New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed suit this week to contest the new strict gun control laws passed in the state. The law limits magazine size, bans assault weapons, and expands background checks. The NRA affiliate sites in its suit that the new “safe act” law violates the second amendment.
Aurora theater shooting survivor Stephen Barton joins the "Starting Point" to weigh in on the lawsuit, and the struggles passing gun control legislation in Congress. He is currently working with families affected by the Newtown shooting as part of his work with Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“Gun laws have always been a patchwork of state laws that don't cover everything," Barton says. "But this is a national problem that applies to a national solution."
Barton says these new state laws can serve as a way for the country to see “what works” so that ultimately federal legislation can be passed. He feels we need to cut through our ideological differences on gun control, and find middle ground because new gun legislation “will save lives.”
He was present in New York City yesterday during Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vice President Joe Biden’s speeches urging a vote on an assault weapons ban that is currently failing in Congress.
Barton says it is “not a surprise” that the assault weapons ban lacks support. He is still hopeful that the “people who have been affected most personally by gun violence at least deserve a vote on the floor of the Senate." He hopes this vote can be achieved by Senator Feinstein’s amendment being added to existing legislation.
Officials at an elementary school in Maryland are suspending seven-year-old for taking a breakfast pastry and shaping it into what looked like a gun, and allegedly saying "bang bang" with it.
Second grader Josh Welch and his father share what happened on “Starting Point” today.
“I was trying to shape it into a mountain, and it turned out to be a gun,” Josh says. “And I did not say bang bang.”
"I believe there needs to be some common sense," dad BJ Welch says. "I believe when you compare the caliber of the offense to the caliber of the punishment, they don't match up. It's a lack of common sense, in conjunction with the use of rules. Honestly. I believe there's some personal bias in the decision as well."
Park Elementary School's principal was unable to talk with CNN, but the school sent a letter home with the students saying "one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class."
Josh will be suspended for two days, but says he doesn't do anything inappropriate.
"When I'm trying to create stuff like drawing...I don't try to draw inappropriate stuff," he saysl.
FROM CNN WIRES:
(CNN) - The two men suspected of shooting to death a Chicago teenage girl are facing murder charges and will not get bond.
Kenneth Williams, 20, and Michael Ward, 18, went before a judge Tuesday in their first courtroom appearance concerning the killing of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who performed at a brunch before the January inauguration of President Obama.
Police earlier said that Ward, who allegedly shot Pendleton, was on probation for unlawful use of a firearm.
Hadiya's story has become a national example of the gun control issue in this country, and First Lady Michelle Obama invited parents Cleopatra and Nathaniel to the State of the Union Address last night, where President Obama strongly urged greater action.
This morning on "Starting Point," Cleopatra and Nathaniel talk in their first sit-down interview with Soledad O'Brien and John Berman to talk about the President's gun control goals, and the legacy of their daughter.
READ MORE: No bond for men accused in Chicago teen's shooting
This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) & Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) discuss a new House bipartisan gun control bill.
Transcript available after the jump.
On "Starting Point" this morning, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) weighs in on President Obama's push for legislation on gun control, Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense and the "Stop Fighting, Start Fixing" campaign to promote bipartisanship in Congress.
This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) weighs in on Wednesday's hearing on gun control and gun violence.
Grassley, who voted against requiring background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows, says the issue of background checks is “something that’s going to get a good look and it ought to have a good look. But expanding it...I’m not sure that we know where we’re gong in that direction.”
He adds that there are several other areas where Congress will be legislating regarding the prosecution of straw purchasers, beefing up the database in Washington D.C. and doing more in the area of mental health.
Regarding assault weapons Grassley says he does not believe a vote to ban them will pass due to the Second Amendment, noting that the Columbine High school shooting took place while the federal assault weapons ban was enacted. He adds that the stolen guns used in recent high-profile shooting tragedies in Tucson and Newtown would not be covered by the ban.
During the hearing, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin cited the death of a 15-year-old Chicago teenager killed just a week after she performed in President Obama's inauguration as more evidence of the need for stronger gun control. But Grassley says the focus in Chicago should be on “the issue within our society of black violence on blacks.”
One sheriff in Wisconsin is encouraging citizens to "get in the game" and learn how to use a gun. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. says you can't count on local law enforcement because of cutbacks.
On "Starting Point," Sheriff Clarke explains to Soledad why a citizen would be better off handling their own personal protection rather than relying on police officers.
"There are certain situations, and I think most people get that where 911 is going to be of no use," Sheriff Clarke says. "And in those situations, there are certain things that you can do to protect yourself. It's a public safety message, and I'm just here to let the people know, give them the information as to what's going on and to give them options, if you will, as to how to defend themselves in those situations."
"My message is for law abiding citizens in certain situations, not to go out and enforce the law," he adds. "There are certain things that you can and should do to protect yourself. It's always been my belief that personal safety is an individual responsibility."
In a few hours, Vice President Joe Biden will be in Richmond, Virginia to make the case for a ban on assault weapons, and President Obama is also set to hit the road to promote the plan.
This move comes on the heels of the introduction of a new bill by Senator Diane Feinstein that would renew the ban on assault weapons, including the AR-15s, the type of weapon used to kill children in Newtown.
Feinstein's bill is likely to face a stiff battle on both sides of Congress, a reality that the California Democrat acknowledges.
Richard Feldman is the president of the Independent Firearms Owners Association and he joins Starting Point this morning to explain his opposition to the legislation, stressing that "instead of focusing on the gun, we need to be focusing on the problem which is always who’s hands are the guns."
"It really is the animal house approach to legislating policy," Feldman says of the proposed assault weapons ban. "We outlawed these guns 20 years ago. It didn't work then. Why do we think that by putting American gun owners on double secret probation that we’re going to have any different impact this time around?"
This morning on "Starting Point," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) admits that though he's in favor of President Obama's executive orders on gun control, he believes the move is politically motivated.
"I basically support what the president is trying to do," Rep. King says. "I'm an outlier on that. Having said that, I think he built up great expectations about the executive orders."
"I think the president is trying to get political support here from his base, maybe he feels it strengthens him going into negotiations with the Republicans on - or the fiscal issues," Rep. King says.
Rep. King also weighs in on the hostage situation in Algeria. See his comments in the video below.
This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) weighs in President Obama's executive orders on gun control, arguing that the president's actions make sense.
"I think the president laid out very reasonable, you know, ideas for ways to reduce gun violence, and while some of them are about guns, and we'll talk about those, he also focused on the need for more mental health services and better school security, those are important," Sen. Kaine says. "But on the guns, I do think the background record checks component has enormous public support. And we ought to be able to do that. I think we should do it in a very easy way."
"I do think the ban on combat weapons and the ban on supersized magazines will be tougher, but again, they are very reasonable. They are supported by the American public. They are consistent with the second amendment. There's no reason not to do this," Kaine adds.
Sen. Kaine also responds to Sen. Rand Paul's statement that he would try to "nullify" the President’s orders.
"Nullification is a code word," Sen. Kaine says. When pressed by O'Brien, Kaine says “it’s a states right argument that gets used in times of great controversy. The President is acting by executive power that is legally conferred on him. And as you pointed out, you went over these executive orders. They’re basic, common sense things.”
"The notion that we’re going to nullify a presidential action when the President is acting pursuant to law, you know, that’s just kind of this anti-government rhetoric that I’m surprised to hear somebody in government using,” he says.
Starting Point airs weekdays from 7am to 9am ET on CNN. Check in often to join the daily conversation.