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Feinstein to push ban on assault weapons

In light of Friday's tragic violence, the Sunday shows focused heavily on the massacre in Newton, Conn., and the larger implications of the tragedy.

In light of Friday's tragic violence, the Sunday shows focused heavily on the massacre in Newton, Conn., and the larger implications of the tragedy. Of particular interest was the number of Democratic officials willing to do what they were reluctant to do after other recent mass shootings: propose legislative remedies.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she would, on the first day of the new Congress, propose reinstating the assaults weapons ban and prohibit high-capacity magazines. David Gregory told the senator, "What makes you think it can pass that? We've had tragedies before and nothing happens."

Feinstein replied, "It can be done," noting the long odds that were overcome in 1994 when the assault-weapons ban first became law. Of course, in 1994, there was a Democratic House, Democratic Senate, and Democratic White House -- and the conditions are hardly identical today.

Regardless, Feinstein was hardly the only Democratic Sunday show guest eyeing legislative changes.

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) added:

"I think we can get something done. I think we have to do things that protect the second amendment rights of legitimate gun owners, but three things that we should focus on: We don`t know the details yet, so you can`t say that any of them would have stopped this incident, but you can say they are parts of the pattern."One is to ban assault weapons, to try and reinstate the assault weapons ban. The second is to limit the size of clips to maybe no more than 10 bullets per clip. And the third would be to make it harder for mentally unstable people to get guns."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and offered a similar take.

"We need to sit down and have a quiet, calm reflection on the Second Amendment. Are there guns that really shouldn't be sold across America? Military assault weapons such as the one involved in this horrific incident in Connecticut?"Are there high ammunition clips, high capacity ammunition clips that have no value, whatsoever when it comes to sporting and hunting and even self-defense? The person could buy body armor, take that body armor and use it to protect themselves as they kill innocent people."Can we have a thoughtful, calm, reflection on these things? And do it in the context of our Second Amendment? I think we need to."

There's been quite a bit of debate over the last few days about whether the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School represent a political tipping point. After other recent mass shootings, there's a usual pattern -- shock followed by grieving followed by a return to normalcy -- that necessarily discourages political shifts, but the question is whether the events in Newtown were so horrific, they will break the pattern and overcome the political, cultural, and societal stagnation that pushes against change.

Time will tell, of course, whether this incident really is different from the others, but for what it's worth, these Democratic lawmakers' comments were not at all common after Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek.