Last updated: February 20. 2013 2:09AM - 593 Views

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Freshman U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright will be in the thick of the national gun-violence debate because he was appointed to a congressional task force examining the issue.


The Democrat from Moosic was selected to serve on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force by California Congressman Mike Thompson, whom House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi designated task-force chairman.


The committee, formed in the wake of last month's school-shooting massacre in Connecticut, will come up with policy recommendations by early February on ways to restrict guns while protecting the rights of responsible gun owners, a release said.


Other related issues will be addressed: closing mental-health-care system gaps, strengthening background checks and violence in the nation's culture.


We need to take a comprehensive approach to cut down on gun violence, Cartwright said in a release, adding he looks forward to meaningful legislation that will help make our streets and communities safer.


Cartwright publicly identified gun violence as a priority before the Connecticut massacre, which may have been a factor in his selection to the task force, said his communications director, Shane Seaver.


He's an outdoorsman. It's an issue he's deeply concerned about and that he's spent a lot of time thinking about, Seaver said.


The congressman supports limiting the quantity of high-capacity ammunition clips for assault weapons and imposing universal background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows, Seaver said.


It's not about gun control. It's about making the gun environment different, Seaver said.


Vice President Joe Biden also heads a panel examining ways to curb gun violence that is set to issue suggestions to President Barack Obama today.


The congressional task force will work with Biden, Seaver said.


In the end, any law introduced has to come through Congress and pass Congress. I think this is Congress taking a more proactive approach and getting a better understanding of the problem, he said.


The task force will have meetings and hearings during the next few weeks to gather input from police, gun owners, sportsmen's groups, gun manufacturers and retailers, mental-health experts, gun-violence prevention groups, entertainment-industry representatives and education organizations.

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