But The Hill reported with few exceptions, mass shootings have not led to legislative action on gun laws, and Republican strategists said Friday's shooting during a screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" was unlikely to bring significant changes.
"We should be proactive before another tragedy happens," said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed and son seriously injured in a 1993 shooting on a Long Island commuter train. "There are ways of doing this without infringing upon anyone's rights."
McCarthy and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., have worked together on a measure that would tighten restrictions on gun shows, where in some states firearms can be easily bought by people with criminal records.
"We have to face the reality that these types of tragedies will continue to occur unless we do something about our nation's lax gun laws," Lautenberg said.
He also introduced a measure that would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said "anytime there's a horrific attack on U.S. soil where a gun is used, the left comes after the Second Amendment in a knee-jerk fashion. There's a strong, bipartisan majority in the House that supports the Second Amendment and the [National Rifle Association] viewpoint, which aligns with the majority view in public opinion, meaning little is likely to change politically."
Police said James Eagan Holmes, 24, the man held in the Aurora shootings, was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge Remington shotgun and a .40-caliber Glock handgun.
The Hill said Friday's shooting would raise questions about whether to reinstate an assault weapons ban signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 but allowed to expire 10 years later under President George W. Bush.
Many Democrats were reluctant to attribute the shooting to weak gun laws.
In a statement Friday, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community. NRA will not have any further comment until all the facts are known."