Another shooting in the US has raised the question of gun control again, with pressure from both sides.
Friday 14th December marked a sad day for the US state of Connecticut. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Newtown area was one of the world’s most deadly armed incidents Newtown was often quoted as the safest place in America. Connecticut State Governor Dannel Malloy visited the scene of the shootings and said, “Evil visited this community today. It’s too early to speak of recovery.”
Shockwaves from the massacre have been felt all across the country and indeed the world, reminding people of recent atrocities including the July 22nd 2011 Norwegian Utøya massacre by Anders Breivik; and the July 20th 1012 Dark Knight Rises Premiere shootings in Aurora, Denver.
Leading figures across the country are calling for stricter gun control laws to prevent these atrocities from happening again, including Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of US Politician Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in Arizona last year. He said “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.”
According to Associated Press News Agency, 20 Year old Adam Lanza of Newtown reportedly shot his Mother at home before driving to the school and forcing his way inside. He was armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle and two handgun as well as a bulletproof vest. He proceeded to shoot 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 along with the Principal and six fellow teachers, before reportedly shooting himself dead.
In a public address about the massacre, President Obama visibly struggled to keep back the tears. He ordered the White House flags to be flown at half-staff as a sign of respect, and he said “There is not a parent in America who does not feel the same overwhelming grief as I do.” Messages of condolence have been sent by many Heads of State across the world, and British Prime Minister David Cameron released a statement stating that he was shocked and deeply saddened by the incident. It is clear that this horrific incident has shocked the world.
Since President Obama first took office in 2009, there have been major mass shootings in Wisconsin, Texas, and Colorado, and now Connecticut, despite the fact that one of his key campaign promises was to do something about gun control in the country. In the statement on the day of the shooting, the President reiterated his desire for debate. Obama said, “As a country, we have been through this too many times…we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
‘In the UK there are 0.22 recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 3.0 per 100,000 in the US’.
Is now the time for the USA to copy countries like Switzerland or Israel and toughen up on gun control? Or is the implementation of the British system of an outright ban on armed weapons on the cards?
Since 1982, the USA has had the most armed massacres in the world with 12 out of 22 being on US soil. To radically change gun control laws in the USA, however, would necessitate the creation of a law which contravenes the Second Amendment ‘right for every man to bear arms’ and thus would be unconstitutional.
Obama can, however, use the 2nd Amendment in his favour if he was to support the left wing of his party and go against the strong and influential National Rifle Association (NRA). The President could tighten gun control laws in all states by modifying the Amendment so that assault weapons are banned. It is suggested that this would be an effective method of reducing the likelihood of future killing sprees, but the NRA has stated that it may pursue a challenge in the Supreme Court to any Amendment modification. Given the fact that the House of Representatives is controlled by the Republican Party, any Democrat amendments could only be passed at the very earliest in 2014, if they were to win overall control of the House.
The majority of American citizens according to numerous polls are becoming more in favour of having a gun despite the increase in massacres per year since 2007. Many people feel that they need to have a gun to protect themselves from such massacres that gun control laws would be in place to prevent. The White House has a vicious cycle to compete against, but there is some degree of hope on the horizon. A majority of citizens strongly support background checks before being allowed a gun, the necessity for gun registration, and the prevention of felons or mentally ill people from getting guns.
To change the gun control laws in the USA would mean an uncompromisable change to the political beliefs of both of the major political parties. The Republicans are in favour of unrestrained gun ownership, believing that it is a constitutional right to own a gun; and the Democrats are divided on the issue, with a large majority being against severe gun control laws. The right to own a gun in America will last until the State union collapses but if the two political parties agreed to meet in the middle, maybe tighter gun control laws would deter and prevent possible killers from committing massacres like the Connecticut shootings.