Major Defections Stun Lawmakers; Sources: President Soliciting Proposals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the wake of the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown, Conn., support for gun control is growing.

Congressmen are questioning their positions, sporting goods stores are suspending sales and the White House is starting to list the kinds of measures President Barack Obama favors, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

As demonstrators marched on National Rifle Association headquarters, the White House was outlining the kinds of gun measures the president could support.

Besides supporting the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, banning the sales of high-capacity magazines, Obama wants to make there is a background check for every gun sold — like at gun shows.

“He supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the gun show loophole,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

This comes as one of the nation’s largest gun dealers suspended the sale of rifles Tuesday. Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling the guns temporarily nationwide, and permanently in its store closest to Newtown, Conn.

And Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, a conservative from a southern state, said Tuesday he wants to reinstate the assault weapons ban, too.

“Nothing is going to bring back those 20 children and six very courageous educations, but we can make sure that’s our inspiration battle cry and I won’t be quiet anymore,” Rep. Yarmuth said.

Neither will Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia.)

“I never thought that I would see children and babies slaughtered in America,” he said.

Manchin said after Friday’s massacre there must be a way to limit the purchase of high-capacity magazines.

“This is not about the Second Amendment to our constitution or taking your guns away; it’s about having an intelligent conversation,” Sen. Manchin said.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer said Sen. Manchin’s change of heart indicates lawmakers may be at the tipping point to passing meaningful gun control.

“He’s probably the most pro-gun person in the whole Senate, so the fact that he’s had a change of heart gives us real hope that we can get some rational things done,” Sen. Schumer said.

On Tuesday night, the NRA finally broke its silence on the elementary school tragedy, saying members were “shocked” and “heartbroken” by the events in Newtown.

“Out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency,” the NRA statement said, ”we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.”

“The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

The NRA is planning a major news conference in the Washington D.C. area on Friday.

Law enforcement officials told CBS 2’s Lou Young the military-style weapons and large magazines that often accompany them are, in fact, the primary problem. Matthew Horace, a former agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who now works in private security said the Sandy Hook massacre fits a solid pattern.

“If you look at the facts, where the rubber meets the pavement, this individual used a high capacity magazine and an assault rifle to commit his crime,” said Horace, of FJC Security Services, “and if you compare it to other crimes, active shooter incidents — assault rifles, high capacity magazines.”

As if fleeing before a coming storm, a large private equity firm sold its stake Tuesday in the firm that makes the Bushmaster rifle – the murder weapon used Friday.

The statement by the firm read that “the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event.”

Pro-gun politicians were clearly worried about the gathering momentum for additional regulation.

“They take away a freedom from law-abiding folks and they don’t take guns away from those who end up being the eventual perpetrators,” said U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Masser (R-Ind.)

As if reflecting the national mood, Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have allowed people with gun permits to carry their weapons into schools, hospitals and day care centers.

Meanwhile, sources told CBS 2’s Kramer the president is soliciting gun legislation proposals from his staff and is expected to address gun violence in the coming weeks.

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