19 Dec 2012

Obama to support assault weapon ban

10:34 pm on 19 December 2012

US President Barack Obama will support legislation to reinstate a ban on assault weapons following last week's mass shooting at a school in the state of Connecticut, his spokesman says.

Four days after 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his mother, then 20 children and six school staff, the debate over America's lax gun laws intensified.

Lanza's principal firearm was the kind of semi-automatic rifle that would be banned if the bill gets past Congress.

The elementary school in Newtown where the massacre occurred remains closed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president was actively supportive of a Democratic senator's plan to introduce a bill on the first day of the next Congress.

Mr Obama would also consider curbs on high-capacity ammunition and loopholes.

The US president has previously stated his support for the reintroduction of an assault weapons ban, which lapsed in 2004 but has not backed a specific move to do so before now, the BBC reports.

The White House press secretary added that Mr Obama was also supportive of other gun legislation, including on high-capacity ammunition clips and against a loophole that allows for gun purchases at gun shows without a background check.

NRA offers "meaningful contributions"

Meanwhile the country's most powerful gun lobby group says it's prepared to offer what it calls meaningful contributions, to avoid a repeat of the shooting.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been accused of preventing Congress from making changes to America's gun laws.

In its first public statement on the massacre, the NRA says it remained silent until now to allow time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation.

But a member of the NRA in Arkansas, Zachary Johnson, says he still believes there are three reasons why Americans need the right to own guns.

"Category one is self defence, category two is hunting and hunting rights and - as crazy as it sounds - category three is defence against a government that no longer represents the people that they serve."

Back to school

Most children in Newtown have returned to classes amid extra security after last week's shootings, but survivors from Sandy Hook Elementary School stayed home as it remains a crime scene.

Funerals for the 20 children and six adults continued on Tuesday, after the first victims were buried on Monday. Services were held for James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos, both six-year-olds.

Before trading began on Wall Street on Tuesday a US private equity firm said it would sell its stake in the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the weapon used in the Newtown school shootings.

Dick's Sporting Goods, a US chain, also announced it would suspend sales of modern sporting rifles in all stores and remove all guns from a display at its store closest to Newtown.