On the morning of December 14th, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza arrived at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. With him, he was carrying a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and two handguns.
At about 9:30 that morning, he opened fire in the school. As soon as the first shots were heard,students around the school were quickly rushed into closets and bathrooms. Police arrived at the school minutes after shots rang out. But they were still too late. By the end of the day, 27 people were dead, including six adults, 20 children ages 6 and 7, and the shooter, Adam Lanza,who took his own life.
Shortly after the shooting, the issue of gun control became a much more discussed topic. Some people argued that banning semi-automatic assault rifles, like the one used in the Sandy Hook shooting, would help prevent more extreme cases of gun violence from occurring. Four years later, the debate of whether or not stricter gun control laws should be enacted continues. A decision on what is responsible for gun violence cannot be made. It is still unclear whether people or guns should be blamed for it.
What is Gun Control?
Gun control is an issue that has been discussed and argued about for many years even before the Sandy Hook shooting. People who support gun control argue that background checks should be required for anyone trying to buy a gun anywhere in America. They also believe that who can carry guns in public and the types of guns available should be regulated.
One main gun control issue is whether assault rifles, like the one used in recent shootings, should be allowed to be sold to the public.
Why is Gun Control So Controversial?
The topic of whether there should be stricter gun control is filled with controversy. Some Americans say gun violence is not the fault of the gun, it is the fault of the person. In a radio interview with Sen. John McCain, he said, "The government needs to identify people who are mentally ill and more effectively keep them from obtaining guns." (Lombrozo) He believes that gun owners say that the guns are the ones to blame for the violence. A survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre talked about American citizens having very easy access to hazardous firearms.“We don't have a monopoly on people disgruntled at work or people suffering from mental illness,"they said."What we do have is unique accessibility to dangerous firearms that we allow in this country to exist." (Lombrozo) Some believe that the only way to stop gun violence is to stop violence.
What Are Some Arguments Supporting Gun Control?
"In 2014, there were more than 33,000 gun related deaths in the U.S. About two-thirds were suicides and about a third were homicides." (Smith).
Gun control supporters believe a that large abundance of firearms is the main reason that this number is so high. They conclude that more gun control would decrease the amount of gun violence in America. They believe that if more guns are taken off the street, less people would be able to use them to hurt themselves and others.
What Are Some Arguments Against Gun Control?
Many gun rights advocates argue exactly the opposite of what gun control supporters say. They believe that allowing everyday citizens to arm themselves will make every community safer.
"Rather than being a danger, gun owners say weapons can make society safer. They say guns give people the power of self-defense—and dissuade criminals from doing more to endanger personal victimizing people who might be armed." (Smith) Those who are against gun control explain that without firearms, citizens would have no way to defend themselves and others.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution says, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Gun rights advocates argue that this means the government should not be allowed to make laws that limit the people's right to own guns.
Over the last couple of years, the support for gun control has diminished. More people are beginning to favor gun rights over gun control. According to a Pew Research Center survey taken in 2014, "Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% says it does more to endanger personal safety.” (Growing Support for Gun Rights).
It appears that most people do not see the need for stricter gun control in America. However, there are still many people who support it.
The opinions on gun control are mostly separated by political parties."Conversely, a majority of Democrats say that it is more important to control gun ownership (69%) than to protect the right of Americans to own guns (28%)." (Growing Support for Gun Rights). Most democrats seem to be supporting stricter gun control instead of fighting against it. Additionally, the majority of republicans are against gun control rather than for it.
How Could the Gun Issue Be Solved?
Americans conclude that mass shootings like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary could have been prevented in many different ways. Pew Research Center survey Source: Some say that if someone else who had access to a gun was present at the scene, he would have been able to react long before the authorities arrived.
Others say that making it so the shooter could not obtain a gun in the first would prevent the incident all together.
Unfortunately, gun rights advocates argue their that rights will be taken away if stricter gun laws are made.
There are many solutions to this problem that may give everyone what they want. One solution is that the government could require that all gun retailers conduct extensive background checks on anyone trying to purchase a firearm. This would help retailers to identify convicted criminals and mentally ill people and prevent them from buying a gun.
This would also be good for gun rights advocates and gun control supporters because people would still have their personal rights to own a gun, while still making society a little bit safer.
It may still take more time for a solution to be made that would be popular among everyone. This problem must be solved in a way that would protect the rights of the people while still making America a safer place.