Gun-ownership groups were preparing themselves on Friday for another barrage of anti-firearm moves following the horrific mass killing at a Connecticut elementary school.
The National Rifle Association and most groups were keeping silent on the day that 28 people, including 20 young children, were shot dead.
“Until the facts are thoroughly known, NRA will not have any comment,” the group, based in Fairfax, Va., said in a statement reported by the Atlantic.
But some organizations spoke out, including Gun Owners of America, which has about 300,000 members and headquartered in Springfield, Va.
“Gun-control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands,” Larry Pratt, the group’s executive director, said. “Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered.
“This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones,” he added. “The only thing accomplished by gun-free zones is to ensure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun."
Gun Owners of America called for state and federal lawmakers to immediately overturn bans on guns in schools.
And Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the incoming chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, urged caution in rushing to enact tougher gun laws.
"We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place," McMorris Rodgers told C-SPAN in an interview to air on Sunday, the Hill reports. "We have to be careful about suggesting new gun laws.
“We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kinds of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books,” McMorris Rodgers added. “And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again."
According to authorities, a 20-year-old man killed his mother at home and then walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School where she taught in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles northeast of New York, massacring 26 people, including 20 children. The youngsters cowered in corners and closets and trembled helplessly to the sound of shots reverberating through the building.
The shooter, identified as Adam Lanza, carried out the attack with two handguns, police said. He then committed suicide at the school, bringing the death toll to 28, authorities said.
The rampage was the nation's second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead in 2007.
Lanza apparently used guns that his mother bought legally and were registered to her, NBC News reports.
But anti-gun groups were quick with their rhetoric — with many calling for tougher laws even before the full body count was known.
Among those leading the charge was one of Capitol Hill’s strongest gun-control advocates, nine-term New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.
She reminded the White House on Friday that she that “the gloves are off” if President Barack Obama did not work to toughen the nation’s gun laws.
“I want to talk to the White House,” McCarthy told Politico. “I know that they can’t give me an answer tonight, but I want to know what they’re going to do. I need to know what they’re going to do.”
McCarthy’s husband was killed and son severely injured in a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road in New York.
Meanwhile, her Democratic House colleague, Jim Himes, whose Connecticut district ends abuts Newtown, said, “I hope and pray that the flood of sympathy and condolences offered to the victims and survivors of this unspeakable crime will ignite the dedication and ingenuity of our nation to end this scourge of violence.”
And the blogosphere lit up with comments from gun-control advocates of all stripes.
“It's time 2 act to control access 2 handguns,” Minnesota Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards said on Twitter. “This not about ducks & deer."
Documentary film director Michael Moore said on his Twitter page, “The way to honor these dead children is to demand strict gun control, free mental health care, and an end to violence as public policy.”
But any such discussion in the Obama White House will have to wait, Spokesman Jay Carney said as events unfolded Friday afternoon.
“It’s important, on a day like today, to view this — as I know the president, as a father, does — and others who are parents certainly do: which is to feel enormous sympathy for those families affected and to do everything that we can to support state and local law enforcement and to support those who are enduring what appears to be a very tragic event,” Carney said.
Carney added that there would be "a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I do not think today is that day.” according to the Hill.
For his part, President Obama, in a tearful speech later Friday afternoon, vowed that "it is time to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics" — hinting that he might confront gun control in his next term.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, was not impressed.
“Not even kindergarteners learning their A, B, Cs are safe,” Bloomberg said, the Hill reports. “We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now, we are hearing it again.”
Yet the thought of another gun-control debate rankled other Republicans, pushing them to advocate for fewer restrictions.
Ari Adler, a spokesman for the Michigan State House Republican Caucus, said on Facebook that the Newtown shooting was unrelated to legislation passed on Thursday that would allow guns in that state’s schools.
“Regarding the school shooting in Connecticut, our first concern is thinking about the families and the tragedy they have suffered at the hands of a criminal bent on spreading evil,” Adler said, according to The Atlantic.
“What happened in Connecticut, however, is not because of nor related in any way to actions taken by the Michigan House yesterday in approving Senate Bill 59.”
And former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee told Fox News that any debate should focus on the lack of religious instruction in public schools.
“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” the former Republican presidential candidate told Fox. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?
“We've made it a place where we don't want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability — that we're not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment,” Huckabee said. “If we don't believe that, then we don't fear that.”
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