Pelosi on Newtown: 'Initiatives for School Safety Might Have Protected Those Children a Lot Better'

By Elizabeth Harrington | April 11, 2013 | 4:38pm EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (AP)

( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was vague in her answer about how Senate gun control legislation, now under consideration, could have prevented the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but said initiatives for school safety might have provided better protection to the children in Newtown.

“How can we ever not act upon the killing of 20 little children?” she asked.

Pelosi cited an initiative about school safety in the Senate bill and its background check changes, which she said, “would have been very important.”  The guns used in the shooting in Newtown, Conn., however, were purchased legally.  Adam Lanza took the weapons used in the shooting after murdering his mother, Nancy Lanza, who had passed background checks when purchasing them.

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During a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, asked Pelosi how the legislation being moved forward in the Senate would have prevented Newtown.

Pelosi said, “Well, when you say Newtown, it’s important to note that about 4,000 people have died by gun violence since Newtown. Newtown, no question about it, just tore at the hearts of the American people and challenged our conscience to do everything in our power to prevent gun violence.”

“The legislation that is moving forward in the Senate—and hopefully we’ll have something similar in the House—is about background checks, which I think would have been very important,” Pelosi said, “ending the gun trafficking to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t, straw purchases, all of that.  And initiatives for school safety.”

“I think if you just want to focus on one thing, initiatives for school safety might have protected those children a lot better,” she said.   “How can we ever not act upon the killing of 20 little children around 6 years old each?”

A woman hugs a child before he boards a bus on the first day of classes after the holiday break, in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Pelosi continued:  “And so, we want to prevent similar situations, or end gun violence in our country by having responsible, responsible background checks, responsible gun ownership and the precautions taken to prevent it from happening again.  But again, it’s a tall order and there will be other aspects of ending violence in our communities that relate to mental health issues and the rest.”

“But we must, we must reduce the number of guns in the hands of people who would use them in a way that they shouldn’t,” she said.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother and 26 people, which included 20 children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Lanza also killed himself at the school.

The Senate voted 68-31 on Thursday to end debate on a gun control package (S.649) that would expand background checks, impose new penalties for gun trafficking, and implement school safety measures.  The bill would mandate the Secretary of Education to establish an “interagency task force” to develop school safety guidelines.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said that the background check amendment, offered by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), would allow Attorney General Eric Holder to “promulgate regulations that could lead to a national registry system for guns.”

Pelosi said such a provision is “certainly not” in the Senate bill, even though Senators had not received the text of the Toomey-Manchin amendment before the cloture vote.

“I don’t see any—it’s certainly not so in the Senate bill,” Pelosi said. “And the principles that we have put forward on the House side, which you’ve probably seen, we don’t have a gun registry there.”

“It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).  “Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision.”

Cruz said the Senate is pushing through legislation “that no one had read.”

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