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Pro-Gun Senate Democrats Soften Their Opposition to Exploring Legislation

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Republicans are also exploring a response, but most want to wait to have a debate until sometime next year, when feelings are less raw.

Itll be up to the majority leader, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said when asked about having a debate. Hes indicated that the subject [is one] hes [likely] to turn to next year, McConnell said. I think right now, people are properly thinking about the catastrophe in Connecticut last week.

Others Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who was elected minority whip for the next Congress, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and retiring Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, agreed with McConnell and argued that now is not the time to have a debate.

I think its appropriate for us to have a period of respect for the families, said Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. Its also going to be appropriate for us to have a dialogue on the safety of our childrens schools.

He declined to say when that dialogue should take place.

Others expect to have a better sense of what to do as details emerge from the grim day last week when a gunman shot his way into an elementary school and killed 26 people, including 20 children. Other incidents will also be explored.

This week they are still burying children and teachers and principals, said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. I think when we come back next year we are going to be looking at every facet of the causes of what happened in multiple places, mental health issues, cultural issues, about everything.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said hes not convinced that new laws are the answer.

I dont know what the government can do when you have someone this disturbed unless you take everybodys guns away, the Republican said.

So opposition remains, but perhaps its not as staunch as in the past.

I think there is a hope among people who dont want any action that once the grief of the moment is over Americans will go on to other things, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. I really dont agree with that. I think this is a sea change.

John Gramlich contributed to this report.

This article has been updated from the print version.

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