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Gun control likely a big issue in President Obama’s second term

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MADISON (WITI) -- The shooting in Texas on Tuesday, January 22nd is the latest incident fueling the national debate over guns. That debate is coming to Congress, and Capitol Hill is gearing up for its biggest fight over guns in 20 years.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, President Barack Obama vowed to act on behalf of the victims. 

"We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals," President Obama said.

Wisconsin's Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson says President Obama is using the tragedy to achieve a political goal: gun control.

"President Obama is exploiting this tragedy, to really put forward an amendment to limit people's second amendment rights," Johnson said.

Johnson says the executive orders President Obama signed restricting overseas sales and making mental health records more readily available -- coupled with proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity clips amount to limits on liberty.

"The fact is when you look at the history of gun control, it hasn't worked. From my standpoint freedom comes first," Johnson said.

Milwaukee Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore says the government has a role in regulating guns.

"Where are we going with this?  I mean do individuals get to own nuclear weapons? Do they get to own submarines with this notion of a right to bear arms?  No," Moore said.

Both sides are bracing for the biggest Congressional fight on the issue in two decades. UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee says the gun debate is always tricky.

"The problem with an issue like gun control is you've got elected officials on both sides, who say I don't care about public opinion. I don't care about what happened in Connecticut or I don't care about -- use any other example. I know what my position is," Lee said.

There has been no recent expansion of gun rights on the federal level, but the trend has been toward fewer restrictions on the state level, including Wisconsin. In 2011, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law allowing concealed carry weapons.