Democratic lawmakers and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday that military-style assault weapons should be banned and that a national commission should be established to examine mass shootings in the United States.
The proposals were among the first to come from Congress in the wake of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"Assault weapons were developed for the U.S. military, not commercial gun manufacturers," Lieberman said before a vigil Sunday night in Newtown.
"This is a moment to start a very serious national conversation about violence in our society, particularly about these acts of mass violence," said the Connecticut senator, who is retiring next month.
Gun rights activists remained largely quiet on the issue, all but one declining to appear on the Sunday talk shows. Meanwhile, Democrats vowed action and said it was time to hear from voters — not gun lobbyists — on how to prevent the next shooting.
President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats haven't pushed for new gun controls since rising to power in the 2008 national elections. Outspoken advocates for stricter laws, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, say that's because of the powerful sway of the National Rifle Association.
Feinstein, D-Calif., said she will propose legislation next year that would ban big clips, drums and strips of more than 10 bullets.
Lieberman supports such a ban but said there should also be a national commission to scrutinize gun laws and loopholes, as well as the nation's mental health system and the role violent video games and movies might play in shootings.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, was the sole representative of gun rights activists on the Sunday talk shows. In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Gohmert defended the sale of assault weapons and said the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School, who authorities say died trying to overtake the shooter, should have been armed.
"I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands. But she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said.