US President holds meeting over Connecticut shootings

Tuesday 18 December 2012 12.25
President Barack Obama holds talks with senior staff over Connecticut shootings
President Barack Obama holds talks with senior staff over Connecticut shootings

President Barack Obama has held talks with Vice President Joe Biden and three Cabinet members to look at ways to respond to the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings.

President Obama has said he would support action to address mass shootings in the United States.

No steps have been spelled out by the White House as of yet.

As a starter, Democrats would like to reinstate a ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004.

A White House official said Mr Obama had discussions with White House senior staff as well as Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The objective was to begin looking at ways the country can respond to the tragedy in Newtown.

Elsewhere, a growing number of US lawmakers, including a leading pro-gun senator - have called for a review on assault weapons like the one used in a massacre at a Connecticut grade school.

A West Virginian senator Joe Manchin, who has earned top marks from the gun industry, said Congress and weapons makers should come together on a "sensible, reasonable approach".

A hunter and member of the National Rifle Association, Mr Manchin said the availability of such high-powered weapons does not make sense.

He has called on the gun lobby group to cooperate with a reform of the nation's gun laws.

A ten-year US ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.

The NRA, which gave Mr Manchin its top rating and endorsed him in his two runs for the Senate, has been influential against limiting gun sales and has succeeded in loosening restrictions on some high-powered combat weapons intended for military use.

There has been little word from Republican lawmakers, who are traditionally strong gun rights advocates.

Since the attacks, there have been widespread reports across the country of higher gun sales during the weekend by those worried about a crackdown.

David Gregory, the host of NBC's Meet the Press said on yesterday's talk show had invited all 31 pro-gun senators to appear, but all 31 declined.

Republican congressional leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment today.

Residents of Newtown today held the first two of 20 funerals of children shot to death in their classroom.

The rampage is the latest in a string of mass shootings nationwide that have prompted little movement toward addressing the availability of weapons in the United States and the country's relatively lax gun laws.