Cold blood in Connecticut
Gun legislation a necessity after Newtown
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 00:01
On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. were shot and killed before suspect Adam Lanza turned the gun on himself.
Fingers were pointed at a list of reasons to blame– lack of prayer in schools, violent first-person shooter video games and, at the center of it all, lax gun control.
There needs to be a little less talk and a lot more action now. After a year of multiple mass shootings and headline stories about gun violence, it’s time for gun regulation.
Major violence has done little to influence for gun control in the past, and support for it has been down since the ’90s among Americans. In 2012, a poll by Pew Research Center showed support for control had dropped to 47 percent. However, an immediate poll by the organization after Newtown found 51 percent support more gun control, the most significant change after any recent mass shooting.
But until recently, the conversation has been quickly dropped, and nothing has been done. A short history of gun control legislation in the 20th century has barely been tweaked in the recent years. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., prompted Congress to pass the Gun Control Act of 1968, which restricted the sale of firearms to convicts and other groups.After a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan that instead left press secretary James Brady permanently paralyzed on his left side, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was made into law in 1993, creating a national background check system.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE) into law Tuesday afternoon, making New York the first state after Newtown to pass tougher gun laws. Cuomo has been pushing hard since the Christmas Eve ambush in Webster, N.Y. when William Spengler opened fire on four firemen responding to a fire Spengler set, killing two of them. The act contains a Webster provision, which awards life-without-parole to anyone who murders a first responder, new laws on mental health, pistol-permit holders, assault weapons and ammunition magazines, as well as other provisions.
There’s been little compromise so far, and debate on the matter has been unnecessarily aggressive. Between radio host Alex Jones’s grand tirade against Piers Morgan and NRA President Wayne LaPierre’s Dec. 21 statement blaming everything from media coverage to Natural Born Killers for the Newtown shooting, the pro-gun movement has not had anyone efficiently or intelligently speak for its cause. Gun control will not eliminate the Second Amendment, contrary to popular belief.
Obama will be unveiling gun violence measures prepared by Vice President Joe Biden late Wednesday morning – a comprehensive plan that is only expected to briefly explore mental health and cultural issues in gun violence, leaving the limelight for gun control proposals.
The most obvious revisions expected are universal background checks on all gun buyers, restrictions on the sizes of magazines and an attempt to implement new technologies that would make it impossible for non-owners to fire acquired weapons (e.g. fingerprint recognition, which will be incredibly expensive, and it is unclear how that particular mission will be funded).
There is no reason to ban guns or amend our Constitution, but we need regulations on what we have. Even with the inevitable black market, the presence of guns won’t be nearly as prevalent. You can never eliminate something completely, but without regulations, those kids in Newtown will have died in vain. Wherever you want to put your focus as a cause, it all comes down to firearms and who has possession of them. And that needs to change.