Warner: "Status quo" on gun laws doesn't pass "gut check"

(CBS News) While law-abiding Americans should have the right to hunt and target-shoot, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who boasts an A-rating from the National Rifle Association, said today on "Face the Nation," arguing that current gun laws are enough in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre "just didn't pass my gut check."

"When the crisis hit," Warner said, referring to the elementary school shooting in Newtown last week that left 20 young children and six adults dead, "my three college daughters came home and said, 'Dad, you work up there [on the Hill]. What are you going to do?' And to me, simply saying existing gun laws are enough, the status quo is acceptable, just didn't pass my gut check as a father."

Of the solution several conservatives have offered - arming school administrators, or even teachers, with guns to combat shooters - Warner asked, "Where do we stop? Are we then going to go into pre-schools? Are we going to go into parochial schools? If memory is correct, there actually was an armed individual at Columbine [High School] years ago, and it didn't prevent that tragedy."

Warner said legislation on the issue needs to be "comprehensive," including more attention to mental health issues and protecting schools, "but I also think it looks at these high-volume magazines... that can fire off so many rounds," he said. Alleged Newtown perpetrator Adam Lanza - who is thought to have suffered from mental illness - used, among other weapons during his spree, a Bushmaster semi-automatic AR-15.

"I've shot some of these weapons on shooting ranges," Warner said. "But the idea that you might have to simply reload after a clip of 10 shells does not seem to be an undue infringement."

Another senator rated "A" by the NRA, Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said that while she doesn't object to having armed policemen in schools, she agreed with Warner that "we ought to be looking at where the real danger is, like those large clips - I think that does need to be looked at.

"We do have a ban on assault weapons, as was stated earlier," Hutchison said. "But it's the semi-automatic, and those large magazines, that can be fired off very quickly. You do have to pull the trigger each time, but it's very quick."

Still, Hutchison echoed the NRA's statement in the wake of the Newtown tragedy - that increasingly violent undertones in contemporary U.S. culture are at least partly to blame for a spiked mass shooting statistic. "What children and kids are seeing, even on P.G. movies, and these video games, like "Black Ops 2" and those kinds of things - I mean, really, we have a more violent society in general, and I think a lot of it has to be looked at in that framework."

Warner, meanwhile, said he prays that "as we get into the Christmas season [and] the memories of this tragedy fade, we don't let this issue recede [for] six, eight, nine months, and we see another tragedy.

"...We can't stop every crazy person from taking on actions," he continued, conceding that "no single law" is going to stop the 30,000 gun-related deaths a year in the United States. "But if we can cut it in half, or cut it by 20 percent, even cut it by a tenth, that's still thousands of lives. And maybe we wouldn't have some of those horrible images we see right now, these children being buried."

  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.