The White House said US President Barack Obama is “actively supportive” of reinstating an assault weapons ban as the US wrestled with the treacherous issue of gun control in the aftermath of an elementary school massacre.
With the debate sharpening, the country’s most powerful gun rights group broke its silence over the shooting and promised “to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
In the Connecticut town where the shooting occurred, funerals were held for two more of the tiny fallen, a six-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, the latest in a long, almost unbearable procession of grief.
A total of 26 people were gunned down at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in one of the worst mass shootings in US history. The gunman, who committed suicide, also killed his mother in her home.
The massacre has rattled the usual national dialogue on guns in the US, where public opinion had shifted against tougher arms control in recent years and the gun lobby is a powerful political force.
Congressional gun rights supporters showed an increased willingness on Tuesday to consider new legislation — provided it also addresses mental health issues and the impact of violent video games. Republicans in the US House of Representatives discussed the gun issue at their regular closed-door meeting on Tuesday, and at least some were willing to consider gun control as part of a solution.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday that Obama was “actively supportive” of reinstating an assault weapons ban and would also support legislation to close the gun show “loophole,” which allows people to buy guns from private dealers without background checks.
Obama has long supported reinstating the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, but was quiet on the issue during his first term.
Obama has said he believes the Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms.
The president was not expected to take any formal action on guns before the end of the year, given the all-consuming efforts to resolve tax and deficit-reduction talks and nominate new Cabinet secretaries.
In Newtown, students returned to their classrooms Tuesday for the first time since the shooting, though not at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The students who survived the Sandy Hook shooting will return to class after the winter break in the neighboring town of Monroe at a school that was closed last year.
Volunteers and town officials have been making the Chalk Hill School safe and suitable for them, the Connecticut Post reported.
At St Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, back-to-back funerals were held for little James Mattioli, who especially loved math and recess, and Jessica Rekos, who loved horses and had asked Santa for new cowgirl boots and hat.