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How will NRA respond to the Sandy Hook shooting? (+video)

After a long silence, the NRA plans a press conference Friday morning to address the fresh push for gun controls in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

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A "We the People" petition on the White House website allows the public to submit petitions. Nearly 200,000 people have urged Obama to address gun control in one petition, and petitions related to gun violence have amassed more than 400,000 signatures.

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At the same time, however, gun shops across the country have reported higher sales, including of assault weapons. A spike in gun sales is not uncommon after mass shootings.

Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to purchase firearms from private parties without a background check.

The president also has indicated that he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines, which the 20-year-old gunman used in last week's shooting.

Obama wants to build on a rare national mood after years of hesitation by politicians across the country to take on the issue of gun violence — and the NRA.

"I've been doing this for 17 years, and I've never seen something like this in terms of response," said Brian Malte, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, based in Washington, D.C. "The whole dynamic depends on whether the American public and people in certain states have had enough."

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released a report Thursday showing that the Newtown shooting has led to more discussion about gun policy on social media than previous rampages. The report says users advocating for gun control were more numerous than those defending current gun laws.

Legislators, mostly Democrats, in California and New York plan a push to tighten what are already some of the most stringent state gun-control laws.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida have called for making it easier for teachers and other adults to have weapons in schools.

A Pew Research Center survey taken Dec. 17-19, after the shooting, registered an increase in the percentage of Americans who prioritize gun control (49 percent) over gun owner rights (42 percent).

Those figures were statistically even in July. The December telephone survey included 1,219 adults in all 50 states. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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