WASHINGTON (AP) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Newtown school shootings have changed the gun control debate and that rural America is ready to be part of a national conversation that he believes could bring people together.
Vilsack says the debate has to start with respect for the Second Amendment right to bear arms and a recognition that hunting is a way of life for millions of Americans.
But Vilsack said that the nation has reached "a different circumstance" in the gun control debate. It will take time, but it's now "potentially a unifying conversation," he said. President Barack Obama recognizes that changes to gun laws can't just be decreed from Washington but must come from the "grassroots up."
Vilsack was interviewed Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
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