Democrat lawmakers, gun control advocates call for new restrictions

Several Democratic lawmakers, as well as gun control advocates, said that Friday's fatal shootings at a Connecticut elementary school should move the president and Congress to swiftly address the issue of gun violence in America.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called on President Obama and Congress to have a "serious discussion about gun control" in response to the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Nadler's statement came as details continued to emerge about the shooting. According to Connecticut State Police have reported that 20 children and 7 adults, including the shooter, have lost their lives. The alleged shooter, Adam Lanza, 24, of Hoboken, New Jersey, killed his father in Hoboken before driving to the Connecticut school, where he killed his mother, a teacher at the school, and the other adults and children, according to multiple media reports.

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"I am absolutely horrified by news of the cold-blooded shooting of dozens of children in Newtown, Conn.," Nadler said in a statement on Friday. "Yet another unstable person has gotten access to firearms and committed an unspeakable crime against innocent children. We cannot simply accept this as a routine product of modern American life.

"If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is. How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through? I am challenging President Obama, the Congress, and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this."

Another New York Democrat, Rep. Nita Lowey, called the shooting "senseless and heartbreaking" and said there needed to be "concrete action" to prevent further gun violence. 

"We cannot tolerate mass shootings as a mere inconvenience or a normal part of our everyday lives," Lowey said. "Easy availability of the deadliest weapons to the most dangerous people has cost countless lives and caused immeasurable suffering, never more so than today. Our expressions of sympathy must be matched with concrete actions to stop gun violence."

"It is past time for a national debate on gun control and solutions to ensure that this terrible trend in mass shootings finally comes to an end," said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who lost her husband to a mass murderer on a Long Island commuter train in 1993, echoed Markey's sentiment.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions right now, but one thing is clear – there’s too much gun violence in our country," McCarthy said in a release. "These shootings are becoming all too common, and it’s too easy for dangerous people to get the weapons that help them perform mass executions like today’s.

“Leaders in Washington from both parties, and groups like the NRA, all say that now is not the time to talk about how gun safety laws can save lives in America.  I agree, now is not the time to talk about gun laws – the time for that conversation was long before all those kids in Connecticut died today."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) added his voice to those calling for action to address gun violence.

"Today is a day for mourning and prayer, but we must immediately get to work to end these senseless, mass killings of innocent Americans. Together, we must act now to stop the carnage,” Van Hollen said in a release.

At a press conference, President Obama said meaningful action should be taken to prevent future shooting tragedies.

The president said "it is time to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics," an indication that Obama could be prepared to confront gun control.

Responding to Obama's press conference, Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said his organization was encouraged by Obama's comments.

"We were moved by President Obama's raw emotion during his remarks today," Gross said. "We are committed to working with him to channel it into the change that is too long overdue."

In 2010 the Brady campaign gave Obama a failing grade on pushing for stricter gun laws.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) responded that Obama needs to do more than call for action.

"Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before," Bloomberg said in a statement. "What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever."

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who introduced legislation to ban high-capacity magazine clips in automatic weapons, also called for action to improve gun control.

"This is a day of great sadness in America, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families," Lautenberg said. "This latest shooting tragedy is an unthinkable act of violence carried out against young children and innocent people.  Americans are sick and tired of these attacks on our children and neighbors and they are sick and tired of nothing being done in Washington to stop the bloodshed.  If we do not take action to address gun violence, shooting tragedies like this will continue.  As President Obama said, we must act now 'regardless of the politics.'"

— This story was last updated at 4:35 p.m.