WASHINGTON — Some Republicans now say they're willing to discuss the politically treacherous issue of gun control along with mental health issues and violent video games, while formerly pro-gun Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it's time to place gun control on the table in the wake of the Connecticut mass killings.
House Republicans discussed the gun issue at their regular closed-door meeting Tuesday and at least some were willing to consider gun control as part of a solution to the violence that ended the lives of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., a 10-term Republican, said after the meeting, Put guns on the table, also put video games on the table, put mental health on the table.
But he added that nothing should be done immediately, saying: There is a time for mourning and a time to sort it out. I look forward to sorting it out and getting past the grief stage.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, made his suggestion for a blue ribbon commission of all stakeholders Monday. Reid, D-Nev., said a thoughtful debate about how to change laws is coming soon. And National Rifle Association member Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., agreed it's time to begin an honest discussion about gun control, and said he wasn't afraid of the political consequences.
It's too early to say what could emerge next year in Congress, but the comments of Grassley, Reid and Manchin are significant. Grassley is senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which probably would have the first crack at any gun control legislation. Reid sets the Senate schedule. Manchin defied the NRA.
On Tuesday, after four days of self-imposed silence on the Newtown shooting the NRA promised to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.
The NRA explained its unusual absence out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency.
The group said it would have a news conference to answer questions Friday, the one-week anniversary of the shootings.
Grassley said Monday: It certainly can't be a debate just about guns. There must also be a serious and thoughtful discussion on mental health issues as well as a culture that tends to be less civil now than it has been for a long period of time.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Mayors wrote the president and Congress calling for stronger gun laws, a reversal of the culture of violence in this country, a commission to examine violence in the nation and more adequate funding for the mental health system.
In July, after 12 people were murdered in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Reid said the Senate's schedule was too packed to have a debate on gun control.