Obama supports efforts to reinstate assault weapons ban
Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:23AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:43AM EST
The White House says President Barack Obama is “actively supportive” of efforts to reinstate a ban on assault weapons in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting that left 20 schoolchildren dead.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Obama will support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s plan to reintroduce legislation early next year to reinstate the ban. Obama has long supported reinstating the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, but did not push for it in his first term as president.
Carney also said Obama would support legislation aimed at preventing private dealers from selling guns to people without doing background checks.
Republicans in the House of Representatives discussed gun violence at a regular closed-door meeting Tuesday, with some saying they’d be willing to consider certain gun control measures.
The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, broke its silence Tuesday with a statement announcing a “major news conference” Friday to address the Newtown shooting.
“Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting,” the association said.
“The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
Back in Newtown, most students solemnly returned to school Tuesday, four days after the deadly shooting spree that shattered the peace in their sleepy town.
Students returning to class were greeted by grief counselors and security, but many said trying to get back to normal was not going to be easy.
"There's going to be no joy in school," 17-year-old P.J. Hickey told the Associated Press. "It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore."
Classes were cancelled district-wide Monday. While some parents said they still planned to keep their children at home, many parents said they looked forward to trying to return to normal.
Dan Capodicci, whose 10-year-old daughter attends the school at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, told AP he thought it best for his daughter to get back to class.
"It's the right thing to do. You have to send your kids back. But at the same time I'm worried," he said. "We need to get back to normal."
Meanwhile, police continued to scour the home of gunman Adam Lanza for clues as to what sparked the shooting rampage that erupted last Friday morning. Sandy Hook Elementary is still designated a crime scene and it will likely be months before police turn the school back over to the district.
The school district is making plans to send the rest of Sandy Hook’s students to a middle school in the neighbouring town of Monroe that has been sitting empty since the town consolidated schools last year. Tradesmen are donating their services to get the school ready and prepare desks that will fit the small students are being taken there.
Others in town gathered Tuesday for two more funerals: one for six-year-old James Mattioli and another for six-year-old Jessica Rekos.
Several wakes were also planned, including one for beloved teacher Victoria Soto, 27, who was shot dead just seconds after finding safe places for her students to hide.
Their funerals follow those of six-year-olds Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner who were laid to rest Monday.
Local school officials have confirmed they have found "no connection" linking Lanza and Sandy Hook school, despite previous reports to the contrary.
In an effort to piece together what happened, police will be interviewing the two adults who survived the shooting spree and who are now recovering from their injuries, as well as some of the children who were at the school that day.
Federal agents have said that while Lanza had fired guns at shooting ranges over the past several years, there was no evidence he had done so recently to practice for the rampage.
Investigators will also be scouring the home that Lanza shared with his mother, and where it’s believe he shot her in the head while she slept, before driving to the school and opening fire.
But investigators have run into a major hurdle: according to several reports, the hard drive on the family computer was removed and smashed in pieces before the shooting spree. Forensic electronics experts at the FBI will nevertheless still try to examine the drive to see if they can determine with whom Lanza corresponded and how he used the computer.
In other developments Tuesday, one of the world's largest sporting goods chains, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced on its website that it had suspended the sale of “modern sporting rifles” in its 511 stores across the U.S. It also said it was pulling all guns from sale and display at its store closest to Newtown
“Out of respect for the victims and their families during this time of national mourning, we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide,” the statement read.
The company did not say what it meant by “modern sporting rifles” or how long the suspension would last.