Several Democratic lawmakers, during appearances on the Sunday talk shows, said the gruesome killings at the school were the final straw in a debate on gun laws that has fallen to the wayside in recent years.
“This conversation has been dominated in Washington by — you know and I know — gun lobbies that have an agenda,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. “We need people, just ordinary Americans, to come together, and speak out, and to sit down and calmly reflect on how far we go.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who is retiring, suggested a national commission on mass violence that would examine gun laws and what critics see as loopholes, as well as the mental health system and violence in movies and video games. Durbin said he supports the idea, and would add school safety to the list of topics to examine.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she would push legislation next year to ban future sales of military-assault weapons like those used in the elementary school shooting. The bill will ban big clips, drums and strips of more than 10 bullets.
The proposals were among the first to come from Congress in the wake of Friday’s shooting. Gun rights activists remained largely quiet on the issue, all but one declining to appear on the talk shows.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, defended the sale of assault weapons and said the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, who authorities say died trying to overtake the shooter, should have been armed.
Authorities identified the shooter as Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old who police say first killed his mother before driving to the school, opening fire in two classrooms and then taking his own life.
Before leaving for Connecticut, the president watched a dance rehearsal for one of his daughters in suburban Maryland.
As he said in his public address, “this weekend, Michelle and I are doing what I know every parent is doing — holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them.”