In light of Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut, President Obama has promised to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies” like Newtown. Over the past few days, several pro-gun U.S. Senators and Representatives have indicated that, in light of Sandy Hook, they are open to considering gun control measures aimed at addressing the string of mass shootings America has endured since Columbine. They include:
1. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
The Senate Majority Leader has earned high marks from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has run as a strong gun-rights advocate. In a floor speech Monday, he said, “In the coming days and weeks, we will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow.” He added that “every idea should be on the table” in the discussion. Politico reported Monday that he told a colleague he was now open to more gun control, observing that “something has to be done.”
2. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
Though he has run for office as a “friend to gun owners” and received an “A” rating from the in his 2008 Senate run, Warner said Monday that he believes, “enough is enough.” Citing urging from his own daughters, he noted “I, like I think most of us, realize that there are ways to get to rational gun control.”
3. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
A lifelong NRA member who has received an “A” rating from the anti-gun control group, Manchin announced Monday that the time has come for assault weapon regulations. “We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way,” he said on MSNBC. In a separate interview, he told CNBC that the tragedy in Connecticut, “changed me and it’s changed most Americans, I think.”
4. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Casey has received consistently high grades from the NRA and campaigned in his 2012 re-election race on his “record of supporting the Second Amendment and the interests of Pennsylvania sportsmen.” In a statement, Casey said, “These senseless acts of violence are unacceptable. Addressing them will require a comprehensive strategy that acknowledges all of the factors that contributed to this tragedy and takes every appropriate step to protect our citizens, especially our kids. Everything should be on the table.”
5. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Johnson has received an “A” rating from the NRA, but said Monday, ” This tragedy will certainly force us as a country to have a discussion about our gun laws, as well as our mental health system. Like always, I will carefully consider any proposed legislation and listen to the voices of South Dakotans.”
6. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Collins has been fairly pro-gun — receiving a “C+” rating from the NRA. On Monday, she said in a statement, “While denying the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens won’t change the behavior of those intent on using firearms for criminal purposes, I wholeheartedly agree that we must examine what can be done to help prevent gun violence.” She suggested that “we should examine, among other issues, whether states are reporting data on mentally ill individuals found to be a danger to themselves or others to the national background check database designed to prevent gun purchases by such individuals.”
7. Sen.-Elect Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
As a U.S. Congressman, Donnelly received an “A” rating and endorsement from the NRA. In a statement Monday, the Senator-elect said, “Now is the time to work together to make sure this never happens again. All parties must come to the table as we determine the appropriate action to address this extremely concerning problem of senseless violence.” He told CNN he was open to gun control measures, noting, “I’m a Dad too. My kids are a little older now, but I think of when they were 6 and 7 years old, and I think we have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again.”
8. Sen.-Elect Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
As a U.S. Congressman, Heinrich received an “A” rating and endorsement from the NRA. Monday, he said the tragedy in Connecticut left him “deeply affected” and that he was willing to consider “sensible policy” to address the problem. He vowed to take a “very serious look all legislative proposals aimed at preventing these horrific tragedies,” and noted that as a hunter, “I don’t need a 25-round clip for effective home defense, and I sure don’t need one for hunting. That’s just too much killing power. It defies common sense.”
9. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
The NRA has endorsed Dent and praised him for being “a staunch defender of the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in Pennsylvania and across America.” After Newtown, he announced he would “push for us to examine all of the possible solutions to this problem,” including ways to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
10. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)
In his 2012 re-election campaign, Rahall noted on his candidate website that he was “NRA Endorsed, A Rated.” Monday, while noting that the “causes of violence in America are bigger and broader than just firearms,” Rahall said, “I want to hear from all sides before the Congress moves forward, so we can move forward together. Let us act deliberately, but, for the sake of too many already lost, let us act.”
While resisting supporting other gun control measures, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed a willingness to consider restrictions on gun access for those with mental illnesses.
Rep John Yarmouth (D-KY), who has never earned high marks from the NRA, apologized Monday for not having been more vocal on the issue. He told reporters, “I have been largely silent on the issue of gun violence over the past six years, and I am now as sorry for that as I am for what happened to the families who lost so much in this most recent, but sadly not isolated, tragedy.”
Former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) — who received high marks from the NRA during his six years in Congress — and former Mitt Romney adviser Mark DeMoss have also spoken out for gun control in the aftermath of the Connecticut shootings.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who received “A” ratings from the NRA, told MSNBC Tuesday that we “need to put gun control on the table.”
In a statement, Sen.-Elect Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who received an “AQ” rating from the NRA (their “A” rating for those with no voting record yet), promised to give “thoughtful and studied consideration” to “how we best address mental health issues in our country, as well as possible changes to our gun laws.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who received a “B+” NRA rating and endorsements in his Senate and presidential campaigns said Tuesday, “I don’t see that it’s too soon to talk about” appropriate legislation, adding that he’d be open to considering limits or bans on certain types of guns and ammunition.
Scott Keyes contributed to this report.