Obama 'Actively Supportive' of Efforts to Ban Assault Weapons

U.S. president failed to push for weapons ban during first term; children return to school in Newtown as funerals are held for the victims of Friday's shooting.

The White House said Tuesday that President Barack Obama is "actively supportive" of efforts in Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban.

Obama has long backed the ban but has failed to push for it throughout his first term. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation to reinstate the ban early next year.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama would also support legislation to close the gun show "loophole," which allows people to buy guns from private dealers without background checks.

The president has pledged to address gun violence in the coming weeks following Friday's deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

Obama spoke Tuesday with Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat and avid hunter who is now supportive of a national discussion on preventing gun violence.

Meanwhile, most children in Newtown returned to school for the first time Tuesday, as the toll of funerals for the 26 dead continued on a gray, wet day.

A hearse arrived at a Catholic church carrying the casket of 6-year-old James Mattioli, one of the 20 young students killed. At least one other funeral was planned - for 6-year-old Jessica Rekos - as well as several wakes, including one for teacher Victoria Soto, who has been praised as a hero for sacrificing herself to save several students in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

Security remained high, and the small, affluent Connecticut community was still on edge as the rest of the country prepared for the Christmas holidays. "There's going to be no joy in school," said 17-year-old P.J. Hickey. "It really doesn't feel like Christmas anymore." But he added, "This is where I feel the most at home. I feel safer here than anywhere else in the world."

In a sign of investors distancing themselves from gun makers, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell its stake in major arms manufacturer Freedom Group. It said in a statement, "It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level."

The mystery of why a smart but severely withdrawn 20-year-old, Adam Lanza, shot his mother to death in bed before rampaging through Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 children ages 6 and 7, was as deep as ever.

Sandy Hook Elementary will remain closed indefinitely.