Attorney General Eric Holder said the shootings in Newtown, Conn. mean it's time "to ask ourselves some hard questions" about gun rights.
"As a nation I think we have to ask ourselves some hard questions. We gather too often to talk about these kinds of incidents," Holder said in Tulsa, Okla. on Friday. "We need to discuss who we are as a nation, talk about the freedoms that we have, the rights that we have and how those might be used in a responsible way."
He added, "But for now I think we should concentrate on dealing with the situation in Connecticut and we are doing, as I said, the best that we can at the Justice Department and throughout federal law enforcement."
An online petition calling on the White House to immediately address the issue of gun control quickly surpassed the necessary 25,000 signatures on Friday; it had more than 114,000 signatures Sunday morning.
President Barack Obama on Friday vowed to take "meaningful action" to prevent more such tragedies from happening in the future.