Never let a good crisis go to waste.

A top House Republican rejected calls by Democrats for hearings on gun safety in the wake of the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), suggesting that such hearings could interfere with the prosecution of the alleged gunman, Jared Loughner.

Rep. John Conyers (Mich.), top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and 15 other Democrats on the panel sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on Friday seeking hearings on several gun-safety issues related to the Tucson shooting. Six people died in that attack and 14 others, including Giffords, were wounded. Giffords was transferred to a Houston hospital this week to begin a long-term rehabilitation program.

Smith said the inquiries Democrats proposed have merit, but timing them before Lougher’s trial could have the “unintended effect of prejudicing the ongoing criminal proceedings.”

While acknowledging that there is little support in Congress for broad gun-control measures, Conyers and his Democratic colleagues suggested the hearings – and congressional action – should be “a carefully crafted and narrowly focused review of these issues and other possible loopholes in current law.”

“We fully recognize and appreciate the sensitivity of the subjects raised by the recent tragedy in Tucson in which our colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and eighteen other were wounded or killed, including members of her staff, a Federal judge, and several other citizens,” the Democrats wrote. “However, we also believe it is not only possible, but imperative that Congress review the relevant issues in a civil and objective [manner].

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