Democrats all over Washington issued statements Friday expressing sympathy and dismay over the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But amid the sadness, grief and shock one thing was clear — most in the Democratic Party did not want to inject a discussion of gun control into the day.
Many Democrats blame gun control for Al Gore's 2000 presidential loss and there has been an increasing reluctance over the past decade to push the issue to the forefront of American politics. In 2006, Democrats won a majority in Congress in part by winning in conservative areas with candidates who were proudly pro-gun rights.
President Barack Obama alluded to gun control in his statement Friday, calling for "meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of politics."
"There is, I'm sure, will be, rather, a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates, but I don't think today is that day," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier in the day.
Like Obama, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., also alluded to gun control. "Perhaps an awful tragedy like this will bring us together so we can do what it takes to prevent this horror from being repeated again,” he said in a written statement.
Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York avoided vague references altogether. His statement was purely sympathetic and stressed that Americans should "stand together with the community of Newtown."
But a few lawmakers did put the gun control discussion front and center.
"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," Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., a leading advocate of gun control, said in a written statement. "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.'"