The initial steps ended a paralyzing debate within the administration over how hard to pursue gun-control legislation, which in the past has proven to be a politically perilous issue for many Democrats.
On Capitol Hill, there were signs Monday that such fear was abating among key Democrats, although leading Republicans remained largely silent on what steps might be necessary to curb gun violence.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) made clear that Congress should consider a range of options to address the issue; all three have been strong supporters of gun rights. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she would introduce legislation that would reimpose the assault rifle ban that lapsed in 2004.
“We need to accept the reality that we’re not doing enough to protect our citizens,’’ Reid said after a moment of silence on the Senate floor. “In the coming days and weeks we’ll engage in a meaningful conversation and proper debate about how to change laws and culture that allow this violence to continue to grow...And every idea should be on the table.’’
“I’ve been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights,” Warner said Monday outside the Virginia Capitol, where he was attending an unrelated meeting. “I’ve got an A rating from the NRA. But the status quo isn’t acceptable. I’ve got three daughters.”
“They asked me on Friday evening, ‘Dad, what are you gonna do about this?’ ” Warner added. “There’s got to be a way to put reasonable restrictions, particularly as we look at assault weapons, as we look at these fast clips of ammunition.”
Warner said his resolve to pursue a solution solidified over the weekend while attending a Washington Wizards game. Many people approached him to talk about the tragedy, in which a gunman with a military-style rifle killed 20 first-graders and seven adults.
“I must have had a half-dozen people come up — Colin Powell, actually,” Warner said. “People were just coming up and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to [do something].’ ”
Manchin, a conservative Democrat and National Rifle Association member, told MSNBC that the massacre of 20 children and seven adults made clear the need to consider new regulations on such weapons. Two other adults were wounded in the shooting and are recovering.
“I don’t know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle,” Manchin said on “Morning Joe” on Monday. “I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting.”