WASHINGTON -- The Connecticut congressional delegation joined President Barack Obama on Tuesday in endorsing a new federal ban on assault weapons in the wake of the Newtown school massacre where a 20-year-old man used an assault rifle to murder 20 children and six adults.
Obama is "actively supportive" of efforts to reinstate an assault weapons ban, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. The president, in his remarks Sunday night at Newtown High School, had urged unspecified actions to curb the rash of mass shootings. As a member of the Senate he had supported a ban.
Obama "does want to move," Carney told reporters. "He wants to move in the coming weeks, which is a fairly short period of time. And while he supports, and strongly, renewal of the assault weapons ban ... he wants to expand the conversation beyond those specific areas of legislation to look at other ways we can address this problem."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the author of the assault weapons ban that became law in 1994 but expired in 2004, says she will introduce an "updated" assault weapons ban when Congress convenes Jan. 3.
Her new bill would outlaw 100 specifically named firearms, weapons that can accept detachable magazines as well as certain semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., took the floor of the Senate on Tuesday to describe how Adam Lanza, armed with a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a 10 mm Glock handgun, a 9 mm Sig Sauer pistol, and magazines filled with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, invaded Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and killed students and staffers.
"There is no single new law, no simple solution, that will be a cure-all" to the violence, Blumenthal said, "but there are sound, sensible steps that we can take. ... We need to do something to effectively ban assault weapons. I am talking about weapons that are not designed for self-defense or hunting, but rather for killing and maiming human beings, often as many as possible, as fast as possible. Weapons that are civilian versions of military weapons. There is no reason that such weapons should be for sale today in America."
The state's other House members -- Reps. Jim Himes, D-Greenwich, Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, Joe Courtney, D-Vernon, John Larson, D-East Hartford -- also said they supported a ban on assault weapons, though they would wait until they saw specific legislative language before endorsing any particular bill.
The drive to reinstate the assault weapons ban also picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which announced its support of the legislation that Feinstein is preparing.
Feinstein sponsored the 1994 ban that outlawed 18 specific models of semiautomatic weapons. The law expired in 2004 and lawmakers, mainly Republicans, refused to renew it.
By pushing for a new assault weapons ban, the Obama administration could reap political benefits among suburban voters who abhor weapons of that type. On the other hand, if House Republicans thwart any effort to renew the ban, the Obama administration could gain among those voters who would blame Republicans for blocking a new ban.
Meantime, the campaign against assault weapons broadened Tuesday to include legislation against ammunition magazines that could hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.