The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 18, 2012

Republicans say gun control should be debated

— Some Republicans now say they're willing to discuss the politically treacherous issue of gun control along with mental health issues and violent video games, while formerly pro-gun Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it's time to place gun control on the table in the wake of the Connecticut mass killings.

House Republicans discussed the gun issue at their regular closed-door meeting Tuesday and at least some were willing to consider gun control as part of a solution to the violence that ended the lives of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., a 10-term Republican, said after the meeting, "Put guns on the table, also put video games on the table, put mental health on the table."

But he added that nothing should be done immediately, saying, "There is a time for mourning and a time to sort it out. I look forward to sorting it out and getting past the grief stage."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, made his suggestion for a blue ribbon commission of "all stakeholders" Monday. Reid, D-Nev., said "a thoughtful debate about how to change laws" is coming soon. And National Rifle Association member Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., agreed it's time to begin an honest discussion about gun control, and said he wasn't afraid of the political consequences.

It's too early to say what could emerge next year in Congress, but the comments of Grassley, Reid and Manchin are significant. Grassley is senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which probably would have the first crack at any gun control legislation. Reid sets the Senate schedule. And Manchin defied the NRA while the politically potent pro-gun group remained silent in the aftermath of Friday's massacre.

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