US lawmakers held hearings on new gun control measures Wednesday, the first such debates since a shooting massacre at a Connecticut school traumatized the nation six weeks ago.
Outrage over the tragedy led to a national conversation on gun control and new pressure on authorities to take action. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy's spokeswoman told CBS he "wants to move legislation, and he wants to do it quickly."
The hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy heads, will weigh the new gun-control package being advanced by US President Barack Obama and include testimony from ex-Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was wounded in a mass shooting that killed six people last year, said the Chicago Tribune.
Giffords and her husband, who was also slated to testify, recently formed Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group opposing gun violence, said the Tribune. Their presence will be met by that of National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, who will also speak at the hearing, said CBS, headlining the event: "NRA vs. Giffords' husband."
Obama's gun control package proposes stricter background checks for would-be gun owners, bans the purchase of military-style assault weapons, and limits the amount of ammunition citizens can buy, reported Reuters.
The Tribune called it the "largest" such package in years, setting the scene for a lively debate between Democrats, who mostly back Obama's plan, and Republicans, who are less gung-ho on gun restrictions and seek to broaden the debate.
A spokeswoman for Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said he is eager to hear what the NRA chief has to "say about other issues besides guns," taking in considerations like mental health problems and video games, other factors that may "fit into the equation," according to CBS.
You can watch the proceedings live here: