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New York’s billionaire mayor formed a super PAC this year, and suggested on Monday he would consider using those funds to counteract the lobbying of groups such as the National Rifle Association that typically oppose tighter gun laws.
“I’m going to do what I think is appropriate to try to impact the dialogue,” he said. “Shame on me if I don’t.”
Democratic gun-rights advocates joined the growing number of lawmakers in their party who have started to call for limits on assault weapons, a sign that the Connecticut school massacre could be the “tipping point” to revive the gun control debate in Washington,
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Virginia Senator Mark Warner, both Democrats who have earned top marks from the powerful National Rifle Association, said they would now be open to more regulation of military-style rifles like the one used to kill 20 young children and six adults on Friday.
U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who authored the previous ban, pledged to introduce legislation early next year to ban the weapons.
Previous attempts at toughening U.S. gun laws have failed amid opposition from the NRA and other gun-lobby groups - even after mass shootings across the country.
But the shift by moderate Democrats showed that the weapons lobby could face a tougher fight this time to ward off calls for more regulation. However, with Congress and President Barack Obama busy trying to resolve the “fiscal cliff” of tax and spending deadlines, even liberal Democrats acknowledge that any review of gun laws would not take place until 2013.
A hunter and member of the National Rifle Association, Manchin said the availability of such high-powered weapons does not make sense, and that he knew of no hunter who went out with assault rifles or clips with 30 rounds of ammunition.