WASHINGTON - A growing number of US lawmakers - including a leading pro-gun senator - called on Monday for a look at curbing assault weapons like the one used in a massacre at a Connecticut grade school, a sign that attitudes toward gun control could be shifting.

Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat who has earned top marks from the gun industry, said Congress and weapons makers should come together on a "sensible, reasonable approach" to curbing rifles like the one used in the killings Friday of 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

A hunter and member of the National Rifle Association, Manchin said the availability of such high-powered weapons does not make sense and called on the gun lobby group to cooperate with a reform of the nation's gun laws.

A 10-year US ban on assault weapons expired in 2004.

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