On Friday morning a 20-year-old man armed with an AR-15 and two handguns gunned down 26 people at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. But what made it different from any of the other mass killings that’s taken place in the past few years is that the victims were mostly six- and seven-year-old (for the full list of names click here). And if you use social media than you’ll know that people on either side of the gun control debate are angry and demanding action.
So far public suggestions include stricter gun control, a reassessment of how we treat the mentally ill, arming teachers, and removal of “gun free zone” labels (not all at once mind you). But how have those in a position of power responded? Guns.com looks at a slew of gun control advocates, pro-gun groups, U.S. leadership and prominent figures who right now have the power to shape gun rights in America.
A call to action
As mentioned before people are demanding action. This recent incident was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for many.
On Friday Mayors Against Illegal Guns chairmen NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino quickly released statements calling for the president to take “immediate action.”
In Bloomberg’s statement he wrote:
For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.
And Menino added, “Now is the time for a national policy on guns that takes the loopholes out of the laws, the automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods and the tragedies like today out of our future.”
Astronaut and husband to former Rep. Gabriel Giffords, Capt. Mark Kelly, who heard the news while overseas, commented in somewhat vague terms on the shooting via Facebook.
As we mourn, we must sound a call for our leaders to stand up and do what is right. This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws – and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait.
While he didn’t exactly layout a plan in last night’s speech (nor should he have because he was speaking at a vigil), President Obama seemed to suggest that he’d be doing something to prevent another mass killing in the U.S.
We can’t tolerate [tragedies like Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown] anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society … In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens – from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators – in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who was endorsed by the NRA in October, said on Morning Joe this morning, “Seeing the massacre of so many innocent children has changed everything. Everything has to be on the table.”
Ideas: Legislation or preparedness
While most of the calls to action were vague and excluded specific details, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s plan was not. Yesterday morning she announced on Meet the Press that she would be introducing a bill to ban assault weapons on the first day of the new congress (Jan. 3, 2013).
[The bill] will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession [of assault weapons], not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums, or strips of more than ten bullets. So there will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year. We’ve tried to take my bill from ‘94 to 2004 and perfect it. We believe we have. We exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not be– fall under the bill. But the purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said–weapons of war off the streets of our cities.
In addition, according to Huff Post, a handful of politicians — including Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Sen. Joe Leiberman, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and even Sen. Manchin, just to name a few — said they would support an AWB if it were proposed.
Of course the idea is a bit more low key than an Assault Weapons Ban, respected gun writer Massad Ayoob suggests in his editorial “Against Monsters” that teachers and students should be trained and ready if an attack takes place.
If we simply prepared teachers to handle this type of crisis the way we teach them to handle fires and medical emergencies, the death toll would drop dramatically. We don’t hear of mass deaths of children in school fires these days: fire drills have long since been commonplace, led by trained school staff, not to mention sprinkler systems and smoke alarms and strategically placed fire extinguishers that can nip a blaze in the bud while firefighters are en route. In the past, if someone “dropped dead,” people would cry and wring their hands and wail, “When will the ambulance get here?” Today, almost every responsible adult knows CPR; most schools have easily-operated Automatic Electronic Defibrillators readily accessible; and a heart attack victim’s chance of surviving until the paramedics arrive to take over is now far greater … The same principle works for defending against mass murders.
Gun groups respond
The National Rifle Association has responded similarly to how it reacted to the Aurora movie theater shooting, the organization has not commented on the incident saying that it might release a statement “when all the facts are in.” In addition, the organization (temporarily) shut down most of its social networking pages on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition to the gunman, blood is on the hands of members of Congress and the Connecticut legislators who voted to ban guns from all schools in Connecticut (and most other states). They are the ones who made it illegal to defend oneself with a gun in a school when that is the only effective way of resisting a gunman.
And continued to say that “gun free zones” are a “lethal, false security” that enable mass murder.
We must tell our elected officials that they are acting as the criminals’ friends as long as they continue to support legislation that only protects criminals, not decent people.
How many more tragedies does it take before we do something? How many more children have to die before this country realizes that No Gun Zones create perfect locations for violence? You can not stop criminals and mad men with laws, you can only stop violence with the fear of armed victims.