Lanza had 'hundreds of bullets'
Gunman Adam lanza had multiple magazines for all four guns that he used during the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.PT2M18S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2bier 620 349 December 17, 2012
NEWTOWN, Connecticut: The debate that many gun control advocates have been hoping for in America erupted on the Sunday morning political TV programs.
Democratic senator Diane Feinstein told Meet the Press she would introduce a comprehensive gun reform bill on the first day of the new Congress.
"I'm going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House: a bill to ban assault weapons," she said.
Grief ... Newton residents at a vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Photo: AP
"It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession [of assault weapons] not retroactively, but prospectively."
Crucially, if passed the bill would also ban the sale, transfer, importation and possession of clips of more than 10 bullets.
Such a proposal in the Connecticut state legislature was defeated last year after a vigorous campaign by the National Rifle Association, which sent more than 30,000 emails and letters to legislators. It would have banned the type of magazine used in Friday's shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
Deja vu ... a vigil on the campus of Virginia Tech in April 2007 after the shooting rampage that left 33 people dead. Previous massacres have sparked emotion but little practical change to gun laws. Photo: Getty Images/AFP
Senator Feinstein said of her proposed federal bill: "The purpose of this bill is to get ... weapons of war off the streets of our cities."
It is not clear that such a bill would pass in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority, let alone in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
Senator Feinstein was the author of the last law that banned the ownership of assault rifles, which was in place between 1994 and 2004, when Congress allowed it to expire.
That bill was blamed for 34 Democratic incumbents losing their seats.
In his memoir, Bill Clinton said the NRA's campaign against the law led to Newt Gingrich becoming House speaker, marking the end of four decades of Democratic dominance of that house.
One of the most outspoken opponents of the gun lobby, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, also appeared on Meet the Press, arguing that the NRA's influence was overrated and saying gun control should be President Barack Obama's number one priority.
The Democratic governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, also called for tighter controls on semi-automatic weapons.
"I think when we talk about the assault weapons ban that was in place in the US, to have allowed that to have gone away," he told CNN's State of the Union. "These are assault weapons. You don't hunt deer with these things.
"One can only hope we'll find a way to limit these weapons that really only have one purpose."
On Fox News Sunday the retiring independent senator from Connecticut Joe Lieberman said he supported the restoration of the ban on assault weapons, adding that a national commission on mass violence should also be established, considering not just gun law but the depiction of violence in the media.
Americans needed "to make sure that the heartbreak and anger that we feel now is not dissipated over time or lost in legislative gridlock", he said.
Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin, of Illinois, voiced his support for such a commission. "This conversation has been dominated in Washington by — you know and I know — gun lobbies that have an agenda.
"We need people, just ordinary Americans, to come together, and speak out, and to sit down and calmly reflect on how far we go."
Texan Republican congressman Louie Gohmert, who also appeared on Fox News, had a different view.
"I wish to God she [slain school principal Dawn Hochsprung] had had an M-4 [assault rifle] in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," he said.
He said it was important that citizens remained well armed so that they could resist government tyranny.
"Once you start drawing the line, where do you stop? That's why it is important to not just look at this emotionally."
NBC said it had invited all 31 pro-gun senators to appear on Sunday's Meet the Press, but none were willing.
In line with its standard practice after mass shootings, the NRA has declined to comment, but some of its prominent supporters have already spoken out.
The former governor and Republican candidate Mike Huckabee blamed the violence on the removal of God from schools, while commentator Ann Coulter tweeted that so-called "concealed carry" reduced the murder rate.
The debate had already been raging on talkback radio and social media since the shootings.
One caller to a Connecticut radio station, who said he was a former police officer who had worked in schools, said teachers should be armed and trained to use weapons.
Officials in Connecticut said schools in the region around Newtown would be protected by armed police this week in an effort to allay fears of parents and students.
Despite the renewed debate on gun control, many who have been through this before believe the interest will wane with the media's attention.
The Reverend Henry Brown came from Hartford, an hour and a half's drive from Newtown, to the makeshift memorial near Sandy Hook Elementary on Saturday to pay his respects, but he held little hope the tragedy would force change.
Reverend Brown helped form a group called Mothers United Against Gun Violence in response to the apparently endless cycle of shootings in inner-city Hartford.
"In another month another young man will die in the streets of Hartford and nobody will notice," he said.