The White House says President Barack Obama is “actively supportive” of planned legislation reinstating a national ban on assault weapons — one of several demands by gun control supporters revived in the wake of last week's school massacre in Connecticut.
White House spokesman Jay Carney spoke Tuesday, as the shattered community of Newtown, Connecticut continued the grim task of burying its dead. Twenty-six people, including 20 young children, died Friday when a 20-year-old gunman barged into a crowded elementary school and opened fire with a semi-automatic assault rifle.
Funerals were held Tuesday in the small town for two 6-year-old classmates who died in the shootings. The first two victims, 6-year-old boys, were laid to rest Monday. More services are planned throughout the week.
Outside Washington, the powerful National Rifle Association — the nation's largest gun rights organization — broke its silence on the carnage. In a written statement, the NRA said its members were “shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders.” It also said it wanted to give families of the dead time to mourn before making additional statements.
Pressure also mounted Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — a staunch ally of gun rights groups — said for the first time that Congress should pursue a legislative response to mass shootings. California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the author of an assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she will introduce new legislation at the start of the next Congress in January.
In Newtown, mourners placed stuffed animals, flowers, notes and paper angels outside the funeral homes and other local sites in tribute to the victims. All of the child victims were six and seven years old.
All the adult victims were women and included the school's principal, who is widely credited with efforts to stop the shooter, and a teacher who tried to save lives by throwing herself between students and the gunman. The shooter died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot.
Friday's attack was the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history — topped only by the 2007 rampage that killed 32 people at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known widely as Virginia Tech.