The debate on U.S. gun control has moved to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as lawmakers heard testimony on curbing gun violence during the first Congressional hearing on the issue since last month's mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a January 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, opened the testimony Wednesday.
"Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying, too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."
On the other side of the debate, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre told lawmakers "proposals that would only serve to burden the law-abiding have failed in the past and will fail in the future."
He expressed support for better enforcement of existing laws, stronger school security and keeping guns from mentally unstable people.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of U.S. citizens to own firearms. But under debate is how to regulate gun ownership.
One of Congress' leading gun-control advocates, Senator Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday, "The time has come to change course, and the time has come to make people safe."
A Judiciary Committee member, Feinstein has introduced legislation banning assault weapons and magazines of more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Senator Orrin Hatch said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but would listen to proposals and agreed that reviewing the issue is timely.