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Pro-gun America quiet, contemplative in wake of Sandy Hook massacre

Pro-gun organizations and politicians have remained largely silent after Friday's Sandy Hook school massacre, for the moment at least ceding their dominant role in the gun control debate.

By Staff writer / December 16, 2012

Leonard Strocchia speaks during a community meeting about gun control at the C. H. Booth Library in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday. Twelve girls, eight boys and six adult women were killed in a shooting on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Joshua Lott/REUTERS

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SANDY HOOK VILLAGE, Conn.

Pro-gun organizations and politicians usually quick to counter calls for gun control in the wake of massacres involving assault-style weaponry have remained largely silent after Friday's Sandy Hook massacre, for the moment at least ceding their role in a vigorous gun control debate raging across the country.

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On Friday, a 20-year-old Newtown, Conn., resident named Adam Lanza took a high-powered rifle from his mother's arsenal, killed her, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Once there, Mr. Lanza, a socially awkward "Goth" who has been described by family as being on the autism spectrum, forced his way into the school and, without uttering a word, killed 20 first graders at close range and six school staff attempting to shield the children.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized gun control proponents as early as Friday for trying to exploit the tragedy for political gain, a tack that struck an awkward note in a country where even pro-gun rights Americans paused to consider the implications of America's long-running affinity for guns.

When David Gregory, host of NBC’s "Meet the Press," sent out 31 invitations to pro-gun Senators in the new Congress to talk about the issue on Sunday, no takers emerged. The Shooting Sports Foundation, a pro-gun rights group headquartered just a few miles from where the shootings took place, also remained silent, as did the National Rifle Association.

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With the national gun lobbying voices quiet, some conservative bloggers reminded readers of several instances in recent years when legal gun carriers thwarted gunmen intent on killing many people. In Portland, Ore., one concealed weapons owner claims he brandished his gun after alleged mall shooter Jacob Roberts opened fire. According to the man, Roberts, whose rifle was jamming, fled the scene after seeing the gun and minutes later shot himself.

But even on the blog of Eugene Volokh, a Russian-born UCLA law professor whose article "The Commonplace Second Amendment" has been cited in recent court rulings favoring gun rights, commenters sounded less partisan than thoughtful in response to a blog entry where Mr. Volokh acknowledged no one knows if arming more Americans in anticipation of mass shootings would ultimately save lives.

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