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Visclosky faces more gun, fiscal cliff questions at Portage Town Hall

Congressman Pete Visclosky answers questisubmitted viemail as he  holds town forum Portage Library Portage Ind. Friday January 11 2013.

Congressman Pete Visclosky answers a question submitted via email as he holds a town forum at the Portage Library in Portage, Ind. Friday January 11, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 13, 2013 6:09AM



PORTAGE — U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, fielded questions from constituents on gun control and the fiscal cliff, among other topics, during a town hall forum Friday at the Portage Public Library.

About 90 people crowded into the library’s meeting room. The town forum was one of several being held throughout Visclosky’s district, which includes Lake and Porter counties and the western portion of LaPorte County.

Several attendees questioned Visclosky about his position on gun control, especially in light of last month’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 young children died.

“Obviously with the tragedies that have occurred, it is obvious Congress will deal with gun control,” Visclosky said. “I wouldn’t want to speculate today on what legislation might be introduced.”

He went on to say he supported the passage of two bills in 1994 — the Brady Bill, which has evolved into a mandatory check system for gun permits, and a 10-year ban on the manufacture and distribution of semi-automatic weapons, which has since expired. The Supreme Court did not challenge either bill.

Westville resident Vince Kradlo wanted to know where Visclosky stands on a proposal that would allow teachers and school staff to have firearms as long as they are trained to do so.

Visclosky said at this point, he would neither agree with nor be opposed to the proposal, but, with the shooting in a Colorado movie theater over the summer, the measure is “one I have great doubt about.”

But Kradlo said it’s faster to call Jimmy John’s and get a sandwich than to call 911 and get a police officer to a school during a shooting, something that would be helped with more armed citizens.

Visclosky bristled at the notion.

“Then I suggest we have deeper problems as a society,” he said to applause from the audience.

As far as the fiscal cliff, Visclosky said he voted against the legislation for many reasons, including that he thought it was bad public policy. Congress also knew former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts would expire at the end of last year but waited almost two years — until after the election — to do anything about it.

The bill raises $620 billion over 10 years but also includes $332 billion in new spending, Visclosky said.



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