Sen. Leahy: ‘We Ought to Be As Protective of Our Children As Our Deer’

By Susan Jones | January 17, 2013 | 8:22 AM EST

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) (AP Photo)

( – Endorsing President Obama’s call for gun control legislation on Wednesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy said large magazines, “assault weapons” and the “gun-show loophole” must be addressed.

“In Vermont, we restrict the number of rounds you can have in your semiautomatic for deer hunting. I think we ought to be as protective of our children as our deer,” he told Georgetown University Law School students.

(Leahy used similar phrasing a few minutes earlier, when he told the Georgetown students: "[A]bout the only gun law we have in Vermont is during deer season. If you have a semiautomatic, you can't have more than six rounds in it. Are we really, as a nation, saying we're going to be more protective of the deer than we are of our children? I think not." That time, he was applauded.)

In Vermont, it is illegal to hunt with a semi-automatic rifle with a magazine capacity of more than six cartridges, except for a .22 caliber rifle using rim fire cartridges.

Leahy told the Georgetown students it is impossible to pass a law that will stop all “gun violence,” just as it is impossible to pass laws that will stop drunken driving or cancer.

“But the  fact that we can't do something with perfection doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything. There are things we should do.”

No gun laws, low crime

Leahy noted that Vermont “has virtually no gun laws.”

“You could wear – carry – a loaded, concealed weapon in Vermont this afternoon if you were there, with no permit. We also have one of the lowest crime rates in the country, but not because of that,” he said.

“We are – as a society, we’re very law-abiding. But would that stop somebody who is mentally unhinged from going out and using a gun, knife or anything else to kill people? No. The president's right when he says there are a whole lot of factors involved here.”

Leahy said the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will be the first to hold hearings on President Obama’s gun control proposals.