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Guns laws, fiscal cliff vote on Hebron audience’s minds at Visclosky town hall

Updated: February 12, 2013 2:15PM



HEBRON — About 40 people crowded into the community room of the Hebron Public Library on Thursday as U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, kicked off the first of several town forums in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

He outlined some of his concerns as the 113th Congress gets under way, including the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the still-struggling economy, and his constituents voiced some of theirs, such as more restrictive gun control laws and the federal “fiscal cliff.”

Visclosky took questions submitted by index card before opening the floor to the audience. One of the audience members asked via index card whether President Barack Obama could be impeached for violating the Constitution by further restricting firearms, or by declaring an outright ban.

Gun ownership rights have come to the forefront in recent weeks, especially since the mass shooting last month in Newtown, Conn. Those rights will be debated in Congress and by the president, Visclosky said.

“I certainly don’t anticipate in any way, shape or form, that the president would do anything unilaterally,” he said, adding he supported the Brady Bill, which took effect in 1994 and requires background checks for those seeking to purchase weapons, as well as a bill that banned the manufacture and distribution of automatic weapons, which has since expired and was never declared unconstitutional.

Another person, also by written question, said Visclosky voted 100 percent of the time with his party, and asked how he can consider himself bipartisan.

“The statement is categorically not true,” Visclosky said, adding he voted against fiscal cliff legislation two weeks ago, breaking with the majority of his party.

Later, when further questioned about the fiscal cliff legislation and the many exemptions it granted, including for the rum industry, Visclosky explained his position by saying the exemptions were one of the reasons he voted against the bill.

“The amount of spending in the bill was more than half of the tax cuts in the bill,” he said.

He went on later to add that he refuses to call it a “cliff” because Congress knew almost two years ago that the tax cuts would expire but wanted to wait until after the election to handle the issue.

“It was a miserable way to run government and run this country, and you deserve better,” he said, as a woman in the crowd said, “Amen.”

“And it’s a way to not make difficult decisions,” Visclosky said.



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