Obama will back Feinstein's bill to reinstate assault weapons ban

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the president offers his support for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's new bill

Published December 18, 2012 7:37PM (EST)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the president is "actively supportive" of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's planned bill to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.

Carney was speaking in a White House press briefing, and said that the president will support a push by Feinstein, D-Calif., for the ban, which she said she will introduce in the new session of Congress. Reuters reports that Carney also said that Obama would support closing gun-show sale "loopholes," if any such legislation was introduced.

"It's clear that as a nation we haven't done enough to address the scourge of gun violence," Carney said. He added that Obama "wants to move in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile, several other lawmakers have expressed a new openness to reviewing the nation's gun laws. Following Joe Manchin and Mark Warner, several other NRA-backed lawmakers said that it is time to reconsider gun policy.

Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., A-rated by the NRA,  said in a statement that “possible changes to our gun laws” will be considered following the shootings in Newtown. “As always, I will listen closely to North Dakotans and seek their input on any possible changes to current law."

Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., whom the NRA endorsed this election, told CNN on Monday: “I think there’s a discussion beginning. I heard Manchin this morning, and I think everybody’s willing to listen and be part of that discussion.”

And, from the Washington Post:

Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic senator-elect from New Mexico, told a local paper Monday, “I don’t need a 25-round clip for effective home defense, and I sure don’t need one for hunting. That’s just too much killing power. It defies common sense.” The congressman has gotten ‘A’ Ratings from the NRA in the past.

South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, another NRA-backed Democrat, said in a statement that the “tragedy will certainly force us as a country to have a discussion about our gun laws, as well as our mental health system.” Sen. Bob Casey did not mention guns in his response but said that ”everything should be on the table.”

Even a few Republicans have said they'd be open to a discussion on gun laws.

The AP reports:

House Republicans discussed the gun issue at their regular closed-door meeting Tuesday and at least some were willing to consider gun control as part of a solution to the violence that ended the lives of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said after the meeting: "Put guns on the table, also put video games on the table, put mental health on the table."

And Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said "a thoughtful debate about how to change laws" is coming, but "It certainly can't be a debate just about guns. There must also be a serious and thoughtful discussion on mental health issues" as well as a culture that "tends to be less civil now than it has been for a long period of time."

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Assault Weapons Ban Barack Obama Dianne Feinstein Editor's Picks Gun Control Newtown School Shooting