Newtown, Conn., and its survivors have only begun to cope with the aftermath of the rampage that ended in the deaths of 28 people, 20 of them first-graders, on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
But it didn't take long for gun-control advocates to urge President Obama and all politicians, not just Democrats, to take a stand and rev up action for tighter controls on the types of weapons used by the shooter, Adam Lanza, as polls show that the majority of Americans favor gun control laws.
Those measures are shining a spotlight on "Big Gun" brands such as Smith & Wesson and owners of gun makers such as Cerberus, whose privately held Freedom Group is a "firearms conglomerate" (as Fortune puts it) that produces the Bushmaster .223 assault weapon (and a "man card" campaign raising hackles across the web) used by Lanza, along with his mother's Glock and Sig Sauer handguns.
Cerberus is taken to task in Eliot Spitzer's Slate column today, because the private-equity firm has acquired the find-it-at-Walmart Bushmaster and other top gun brands over the past several years. Meanwhile, investors nervous about the prospects for gun freedoms have been sending down the stocks of Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger. Even a hunting-gear retailer, Cabela's, has been caught in an investment downdraft since the Newtown massacre, Investor's Business Daily reports.
Naturally coming under the spotlight once again is Sig Sauer and Glock, an Austria-based arms manufacturer with a U.S. office in Georgia. Its semiautomatic pistols have been used in some of the biggest recent mass murders including the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
At a vigil in Newtown on Sunday evening, President Obama all but called for more gun laws. "Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?" Obama said in his speech to the mourners and the world watching online and on TV. "If we're honest with ourselves, the answer's no. We're not doing enough, and we will have to change."
Obama said that though there is no single law or set of laws that could prevent such tragedies, "that can't be an excuse for inaction," dismissing people who say the "politics are too hard." He added, "Are we prepared that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also quickly jumped into the fray with his call for more restrictions on gun owership and a demand for change plan released today at a press conference with gun violence victims, as well as an appearance Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. As President Obama gets ready for his first 100 days of his second term in office, he's being urged to make his Newtown promise — his fourth time addressing a grieving a shattered community following a mass shooting tragedy, as he noted, since taking office — his Gettyburg address and crack down on gun vioence.
Over the last few days, such exhortations from long-time gun-control advocates also have been joined by cries for greater gun restrictions from some former Second Amendment stalwarts. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, for instance, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association last fall, and Joe Scarborough, a former Florida congressman and now a morning host on MSNBC, both said they're inclined to change their stance on greater gun control.
The horrific nature of the massacre, and the fact that children were the target (with 20 first graders killed, and six school staffers) ensured wall-to-wall global coverage of the event and its aftermath, sending the gun-control debate soaring to new heights within 72 hours of the incident, as a record number of people signed a gun control petition urging the White House to take action.
But so far all the reporting on guns hasn't uncovered the real reasons for Lanza's apparent behavior, which reportedly may have involved his own mental illness as well as his relationship with a mother who may have been a survivalist and herself stockpiled guns. It is far from clear whether stricter gun controls could or would have stopped him.
In the meantime, advocates of the Second Amendment already are mounting their own defenses, as the NRA went into lockdown mode, taking its Facebook page offline and remaining silent on Twitter (while leaving up tweets such as the one below, along with its Google+ page and YouTube channel) after the Sandy Hook shooting on Friday morning. It promises to be one of the most bruising gun-control fights in American history.