Should the United States Government pass laws that would prevent the production and sale of semi-automatic assault weapons? Recently, an interesting and heated controversy about the regulation of semi- automatic firearms has been taking place in the United States of America. This controversy has arisen because of recent tragedies that have occurred throughout the country. A couple of these tragedies include the mass shooting in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, and the mass killing of twenty children and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.
Two other cent events that have sparked the controversy were the shooting in Tucson, Arizona where Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford was shot and at Virginia Tech University where thirty-two people were killed and seventeen were injured. In all of these events, semi-automatic weapons were used by the shooters. In a video with Officer Leroy Pyle of the San Jose Police Department, Pyle explains the difference between fully automatic and semi-automatic firearms.
The main difference is that automatic firearms will continuously fire rounds with one pull of the trigger while a semi- automatic firearm will only fire one round for each pull of the trigger. This is the same or similar technology that is present in many hunting rifles and shotguns (Pyle). While the United States has always been a country that is “gun-friendly’ and a place where people take the Second Amendment very seriously, many advocates of gun control believe that putting some restrictions on the production and sale of semi- automatic firearms will help to reduce and prevent tragedies like the ones that have occurred in recent times.
Some of these advocates, such as many leaders of the Democratic Party, think that government regulations on these types of weapons is the answer to solve a large part of the gun violence that occurs in this country. On the other hand, pro-gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association and much of the Republican Party believe that laws created to prevent the production and sale of semi-automatic weapons is not the solution for preventing tragedies like the ones that have occurred recently. These opponents of stricter gun control think that these problems are more of a mental health issue than anything else.
They believe that even with these laws, sick people will still find a way to commit such large acts of violence. Pro-gun groups see the possible ban on semi-automatic paeans as a punishment to law-abiding citizens who own these weapons, and ultimately as an attack on their Second Amendment rights. Both proponents and opponents of gun control can definitely agree on one thing: something needs to be done about the rise of mass shootings like the ones in Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Newton.
Both sides see these mass killings as the main social problem and therefore it would be called a consensual social problem. The two sides do not agree on what should be done to solve the problem. This is the controversy. The recent tragedy at Newton, Connecticut, is the event that sparked much of this debate. In Newton, twenty children and six staff members were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary school. All events like this are tragic, but when children are involved, it seems to take on larger significance.
Both sides of the debate were deeply affected by this event. In a response to President Barrack Beam’s gun control proposals, Wayne Lavaliere, CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, started his address by saying, “Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority’ (“Wayne Lavaliere Testimony’). He then went on to criticize and disagree with the ideas and changes that President Obama put forth. The NEAR is potentially the most important interest group and stakeholder in opposition to President Beam’s proposed gun laws.
Senator Dianne Finest, a Democratic Senator from the State of California, is one of the most vocal stakeholders in favor of more gun control laws. In a statement from Finest, the senator said, “If 20 dead children in Newton wasn’t a wakeup call that these weapons of war don’t belong on our streets, I don’t know what is” (“Finest Introduces Bill”). It is clear that both sides of the argument want to keep our children as well as the remainder of the population safe. The National Rifle Association is currently and has always been one of the most vocal interest groups in opposition to more gun control.
According to the NEAR itself, the group is the “foremost defender of Second Amendment rights. ” This group believes that the proposed gun bans would be unconstitutional and would do nothing to help solve the problem while punishing law-abiding citizens. Key members of the NEAR are Wayne Lavaliere and rock musician Ted Nugent, a board member (NEAR. Board of Directors. ). Both of these men have issued statements and appeared on news stations from CNN to FOX News to share their views and the views f the NEAR.
Many Republican Party leaders are also stakeholders in opposition to new proposed gun laws pertaining to semi-automatic weapons. They too feel that these laws would be unconstitutional and would only punish law-abiding citizens. Many of these leaders believe that the new laws and regulations would not prevent criminals and mentally ill people from causing such destruction as seen in recent events. Former Speaker of the House and 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Ignoring has been very vocal on the issue.
He appeared on Cab’s Face the Nation and spoke out against the proposed assault weapons ban. Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn also appeared on that show and said that an assault weapons ban was not the solution because, “it is not going to get to the root of the problem”(Border). People that agree with Ignoring and Blackburn think the problem is more off mental health issue than anything else. The other side of the debate is mainly argued by Democratic Party leaders, such as the Obama Administration, and anti-gun groups, such as a group called the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Some of the Democratic Party leaders include President Obama, Senator Barbara Boxer from California, and Senator Dianne Finest from California. There are also many other members of the Democratic Party involved in the controversy, but these three have been the most vocal and impacting. These stakeholders believe that new laws and restrictions pertaining to semi-automatic firearms will make the public safer because it will not allow shooters to fire as many rounds in such a short period of time.
The recent events of mass shootings and killings are what have spurred the recent controversy and debate over what should be done with assault rifles. However, this problem and debate have already been discussed in the past. One major event that is similar to Sandy Hook elementary school happened in January 17, 1989. On that day, a man named Patrick Edward Purdue went to his childhood elementary school armed with a firearm very similar to the military style AK-47. He killed five children and wounded thirty others (Roth and Copper). This event sparked a debate on military style assault weapons.
After debate, legislation was passed on September 13, 1994. On this day, Title XSL of the Federal Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994- known as the Crime Control Act of 1994-took effect (Roth and Copper). Part of this isolation banned the manufacture, transfer, and sale of certain types of semi- automatic firearms. Firearms with very large magazine capacities were also limited or banned. This “Assault Weapons Ban of 1994” was meant to last for ten years through the year 2004. When the ban ended in 2004, it was not renewed by the Bush Administration.
Another important event that led to much debate about gun control was the Columbine High School massacre that occurred in April of 1999. On the 20th of April two students went to the school and killed twelve other students and then committed suicide. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in the history of the United States. The Virginia Tech University shooting replaced Columbine as the deadliest school shooting in the United States in April of 2007. Here, thirty-two students were killed. The shooter used a type of semi-automatic handgun during his rampage.
This is an event that proponents of gun control look at when trying to make their point. The shooting of Gabriel Gifford in Tucson, Arizona, and the movie theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, are also major events that have contributed to the gun control debates over the past few years. And finally, the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, is probably the most recent and important event that is driving the current debate. Senator Dianne Finest has been one of the main proponents of stronger gun control laws.
She has put together a bill that she is trying to get congress to pass. One of the main goals that is stated in the bill is to “prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 1 57 of the most commonly-owned military-style assault weapons. It also bans an additional group of assault weapons that can accept a attachable ammunition magazine and have one or more military characteristics” (Finest Introduces Bill). Another goal of the bill is to “ban large- capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
These devices allow shooters to fire numerous rounds in rapid succession without having to stop and reload” (Finest Introduces Bill). The Governor of New York, Andrew Common, has also been a big proponent of stricter gun control laws. In fact, the state of New York was the first to pass gun legislation since the tragedy at Newton. One of the key points of New Work’s new legislation is the act that “residents are now restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10” (Arioso).
Some believe this will be effective legislation and some believe that it is only a knee-Jerk reaction to recent tragedy and will have no real effect on reducing gun violence. There are states that like what New York has done, and state that disagree. The Obama Administration is also putting together proposals that are similar to that of Finest and the state of New York. The answer on what to do is not simple and has led to continued debate and disagreement.