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Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas expressed a similar sentiment Sunday, saying he wished Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who lunged at Lanza before she was fatally shot, had access to a firearm.

Mr. Reid’s vow to hold a gun debate could free up the necessary time to bring a bill to the Senate floor, where the last major gun debate was in 2004.

The Nevada Democrat has been a supporter of gun rights, including voting in 2004 against renewal of the assault-weapons ban during that debate.

When President Obama told Mexico that the U.S. should ratify a small-arms treaty, Mr. Reid’s adverse reaction shelved that part of his party leader’s agenda.

But in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he said “every idea should be on the table.”

Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised Monday to lead hearings on the status of laws, but said other Senate committees need to step up and look at other issues such as mental health concerns.

Still to be seen is what kind of legislative muscle the White House will use.

Mr. Obama pledged Sunday to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

But the White House largely declined to go into specifics Monday, though spokesman Jay Carney pointed out that Mr. Obama supported reinstating the assault-weapons ban.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.