The fatal shootings Friday of 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school – including 20 children – immediately reignited the Washington debate about national gun laws.
In Congress, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a leading gun-control advocate on Capitol Hill, called for members to address the issue when a new session starts in January.
“I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life,” said Feinstein, who co-sponsored a 1994 bill that resulted in a 10-year ban on many semi-automatic guns, called “assault weapons.”
The gunman identified in the killings Friday morning at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., purportedly used a Glock pistol and a Bushmaster rifle.
The guns are similar to those used in two other mass shooting earlier this year -- one at a Colorado movie theatre in July and another at an Oregon mall on Tuesday. And they have become the focus of gun-control advocates because they can rapidly fire multiple rounds.
President Obama amid his sorrow Friday signaled potential administration action, saying, “We need to come together to take meaningful action.”
However, he gave no specifics, and the White House signaled earlier in the day the need first to mourn.
“There is I’m sure — will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don’t think today is that day,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Carney’s remarks were immediately challenged, particularly by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has increasingly called for more gun control.
“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough,” said Bloomberg, who leads the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership -- not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today.”
However, at least one Capitol Hill Republican said that tighter control is not the answer.
“That’s one thing I hope doesn’t happen,” New York Rep. Mike Rogers told The New York Times. “What is the more realistic discussion is how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?”
The National Rife Association, the powerful gun rights advocacy group, has yet to publicly comment on the Connecticut shootings.