Rep. Terri Sewell talks gun control, immigration and debt ceiling in Montgomery town hall
MONTGOMERY, Alabama --
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell in a Montgomery town hall meeting called for “common sense” gun control, said immigration is a federal problem to solve and criticized partisan gridlock in Congress.
Sewell, a native of Selma, was holding her first Montgomery town hall meeting since a portion of Montgomery County was added to her congressional district.
Sewell said hunting is both recreation and business in her district and that she went hunting with her father as a girl. But Sewell said there is also room for "common sense" gun control.
"In light of the events of Newtown, Aurora and others, I think we should look at sensible, common sense reform. I'm open to that," Sewell said.
“I don’t think you need a hundred rounds to kill a deer,” Sewell said.
Sewell said she supported expanded background checks and more money for mental health so that "crazies" are not running around with guns.
Sewell said she also thought it was unacceptable that people could purchase a firearm without showing “anything” while you needed identification to navigate through the airport.
Sewell said one of the things she hopes to soon accomplish is to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four girls killed in the 1963 bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
The Democrat criticized the hyper-partisan climate that often brings Congress to a grinding halt.
"The partisan gridlock is real. It is real,” Sewell said. She said she hoped that could be put aside now that the elections are over.
But the lone Democrat in Alabama’s congressional delegation said the states’ representatives often work together including on the proposed recognition for the church bombing victims.
Sewell who has criticized Alabama's staunch immigration law, said a state-by-state approach to immigration reform will not work. She said immigration is a federal problem that needs federal attention and a federal solution.
She warned of the devastating effects that mandatory "sequestration" cuts could have on the state. The country needs to have a conversation about its debt, she said.
“Neither cutting nor spending is the answer but a healthy mix of both,” Sewell said.
But Sewell said the upcoming debate on the debt ceiling was not the place for that debate. She said the United States should pay the bills it has already racked up.
Sewell attended Harvard law school with President Barack Obama. During the town hall she discussed several of their conversations.
She said she felt honored that the president came to the state in the wake of the devastating 2011 tornadoes. Sewell said she told the president he needed to be on the ground and responding.
"I told the president this was his Katrina moment," Sewell said.
She also described a telephone conversation soon after her election in which she told the president she couldn't vote his way on a piece of legislation. Her staff was nervous and tense as she delivered the message.
"You said the best way I could help you was to help my constituents," she said recounting the conversation.
She said the president said OK and asked how her parents were.