An hour after President Barack Obama announced new gun-control proposals, Sen. Bob Casey stepped to a podium in York City Hall.

The Democrat had called the press conference to call for increased funding to federal grant programs that support law-enforcement agencies. But reporter questions quickly turned to the president's gun proposals, drafted in the wake of the elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Casey said he would support a ban on high-grade, military-style assault weapons, which was first signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 but expired in 2004. The senator said he would also support limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

"I'm pretty certain we'll vote on both, and I'll support both," he said.

Casey
Casey
"I just think that in the aftermath of this tragedy, we've got to try to do something here."

He urged gun-rights advocates to consider the president's proposals before rushing to condemn them.

Casey also said he supports Pennsylvania's hunting tradition and the right to own guns for protection.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey did not choose to instantly criticize Obama's proposal as some fellow Republicans have, instead saying he'll take time "carefully reviewing" it.

"Second Amendment rights are important to many Pennsylvanians and must be protected, but there may be areas of agreement with the White House that can be addressed to improve public safety," Toomey said in a statement.

- Erin James may also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com. Andrew Shaw can be reached at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com.