Sandy Hook tragedy raises hope for assault weapons ban
As the gruesome details of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings emerged, even the staunchest gun rights supporters cringed.
On Friday morning, 14 of the 20 children murdered in Newtown, Conn., were huddled together in a school bathroom, their teacher unable to stop the barrage of bullets fired from an assault rifle at the 6- and 7-year-olds.
The crazed gunman, Adam Lanza, just 20 years old himself, dressed in black as if portraying himself as a messenger of death, pumped multiple bullets into each small child at close range, according to police forensic reports revealed at a press conference on Sunday.
After Lanza left a pile of dead bodies in the school bathroom, he moved on to kill six more children and six faculty members before he heard police arriving and turned a handgun on himself.
All totaled, Adam Lanza took 28 lives, including that of his mother, Nancy. “Her cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds and the death has been ruled a homicide,” according to the Connecticut state police report.
The Sandy Hook massacre might be called one of the most unspeakable crimes ever committed on American soil.
As the names and photos of the murdered children became public, emotions range from deep sadness to outrage at the lack of action by lawmakers to address obvious problems surrounding easy access to assault weapons in America.
However, all that might be about to change.
At a prayer service in Newtown on Sunday, President Obama said, "We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change. … We can’t accept events like this as routine."
Among the president’s most potent remarks included asking if America wanted to remain “powerless” to overcome the “politics” of gun control laws.
Gun-control legislation has met resistance from lawmakers who have valued support from the National Rifle Association more than a desire to keep the American public safe, particularly from assault weapons. Congress failed to renew a 10-year assault weapons ban in 2004.
There are several reasons why lawmakers appear to be little more than puppets of the NRA. For one, the NRA has about 4 million members who fund the group through membership fees. The NRA also makes money promoting gun manufacturers. When gun sales go up, so do profits. So it behooves gunmakers and the NRA financially to sell as many guns as they can. The multibillion-dollar gun industry uses some of its money to fund the political campaigns of candidates who will keep gun laws weak, or face well-financed opposition in elections.
Since the Sandy Hook murders, there is a growing movement to reverse that trend. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said on MSBNC Monday that politicians who do not vote for stronger gun-control legislation will face voters wielding more power than the NRA. He also said that lawmakers should be willing to risk losing an election in order keep America’s children safe.
As some pundits have pointed out, military grade assault weapons and massive amounts of ammunition have no legitimate use in the hands of civilians – except to commit mass murder.
No one is saying the right to own guns should be eliminated. But that right must be balnced with the rights of others to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We Are Better Than This is a group helping the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and working help prevent more unnecessary deaths through gun violence in America.
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