Johnson ‘skeptical’ of some gun proposals

When it comes to gun control measures, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said Monday he is skeptical whether many of them would be effective but is keeping an open mind for any proposals that come before him.

Johnson spoke about gun control, the debt ceiling battle and other subjects with reporters during a visit to Yankton's Technical Education Center.

President Barack Obama said Monday that he will discuss his plan to reduce gun violence later this week. It will be based on recommendations from a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden.

"I'm open to any ideas that make kids safer," Johnson said. "That involves a wide range of initiatives, from mental health to whatever. I'm open to all of those ideas. I'm skeptical about some gun control ideas, but I'm open to them all."

Asked if he would support a ban on assault weapons, he said he had his doubts about such a measure.

"I'll wait and see whatever options come about (regarding gun violence), with mental health playing a key role," Johnson stated.

On the looming fight between Democrats and Republicans in Congress over raising the debt ceiling, Johnson had strong words for the GOP.

"The Republican priorities are messed up," he said. "The Republicans insist that wealthy people be protected from taxation, and yet they want Social Security and Medicare to be cut. That's the wrong priorities as far as I'm concerned.

"I'm encouraging the president not to negotiate on the debt ceiling," Johnson added.

He also stated that he has no major issues with Obama nominees Jack Lew and Chuck Hagel, who have been nominated as Treasury Secretary and Secretary of Defense, respectively.

"Unless a person is obviously, egregiously wrong for the job, I think the president deserves his own picks as the Cabinet secretaries," Johnson said.

He is surprised about the opposition that has sprung up to Hagel's nomination, but doesn't think that will ultimately be a deciding factor.

"I expect that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed," Johnson said.

Finally, Johnson stated that he hopes to see a five-year Farm Bill negotiated by March.

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