By NIKKI SAINT BAUTISTA
The December 14 shootings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut reopened the debate over gun control. Twenty-seven people died, including the shooter, Adam Lanza, and his mother.
The New Republic reports there were nearly twice as many mass shootings in 2012 than in previous years, killing and injuring more than 140 people. In most cases, the guns used were purchased legally. As of mid-January 2013, there were 1,019 gun deaths since Sandy Hook.
So, what can be done? Some suggest prohibiting those not authorized, like police officers, from owning guns. If fewer people had guns, there would be less gun violence. Others suggest gun violence is a mental health issue and favor stricter laws that make gun ownership more difficult. Extremists, like the National Rifle Association, argue that more guns make people safer.
Other countries have taken strong action. When a gunman killed 16 primary school students in the 1996 Dunblane massacre in Scotland, the United Kingdom passed a law banning most private handgun ownership the same year. Also in 1996, when 35 were killed in Australia, John Howard, the prime minister, banned semi-automatic weapons within two weeks.
In January 2013, Republicans in Congress cited the Second Amendment when they opposed President Obama’s proposals to tighten gun control. Obama wants the people to put the pressure on. “If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, if hunters and sportsmen, if responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say, enough,” only then can change happen, he says.
A Brief History of Gun Control
1791: To protect American settlers from tyranny or invasion, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed to allow citizens to bear arms (carry weapons) and form a militia (citizen soldiers).
1968: The Gun Control Act passed after President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot and killed in public. Criminals and people under 21 years old were not allowed to have guns.
2004: A 1994 ban on assault weapons or semi-automatic guns (guns that fire more quickly) ended.
2005: The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed, preventing manufacturers from being held responsible when guns they made were used in a crime.
2010: The federal government lifted the ban on bringing hidden and loaded guns into national parks, depending on the state.
2013: President Obama pushes for stricter gun control laws and enforcement after the Sandy Hook shootings.