President Obama named Vice President Joe Biden to lead a gun-control task force on Wednesday that will consider policies to try to reduce gun violence, amid continued calls for gun control measures in the wake of last Friday's school shooting.
Obama will reveal Biden's recommendations in January's State of the Union address. But he suggested that mental health would be a priority.
"We're going to need making access to mental health at least as easy as access to a gun," Obama said.
The Sandy Hook school shooter — 20-year-old Adam Lanza — reportedly had mental issues. Adam's mother was said to have gotten him some mental health treatment.
The White House on Tuesday said Obama expressed support for California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's plan to introduce a bill to ban so-called assault weapons.
Shares of Sturm Ruger (RGR) and Smith & Wesson (SWHC) both rallied more than 7% Wednesday, but that only partly offset the gun makers' big losses in the prior three sessions. Outdoor sports retailer Cabela's (CAB), which sells many firearms, climbed 6% after suffering heavy losses.
Cerberus Capital Management said Tuesday it would sell its stake in Freedom Group, maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, one of the firearms used by Lanza. That same day Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) said it would stop selling firearms.
Anecdotal reports suggest gun sales are skyrocketing in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, as people seek personal protection amid fears of new control measures. Gun sales typically go up after mass shootings like the incident in Sandy Hook. For example, firearms sales increased nationwide in July after 12 people were shot to death and nearly 60 were wounded at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Biden signaled that Obama would not take away people's guns.
"I guarantee you Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey," he told Virginia voters at one stop. "If he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem.
But the shooting of 20 children, many 6 or 7 years old, may have changed the political calculus for Obama.
The National Rifle Association has said it will hold a Friday press conference, where it will "offer meaningful contributions" to prevent future massacres. Many gun rights advocates have said that schools are at higher risk because they are gun-free zones.