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A nation takes on gun reform

By: Kris Schneider

December 14, 2012.  The day in which 26 lives were forever changed in Newtown, Connecticut.  Adam Lanza, 20, began his rampage at 9:30 am, when he stole his mother’s firearms, then shot and killed her.  He then continued his rampage when he drove to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School.  He used his mother’s weapon to shoot his way into the building where he was met by Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.  He shot and killed both before continuing to the first grade classroom.  He killed the substitute teacher, Lauren Rousseau, before killing every child in the room except for one. A six year old girl was the sole survivor in that room.  He then continued to another first grade classroom, where teacher Victoria Soto had hidden her children in cabinets.  She told Lanza that the children were in the auditorium, at which point several children left their hiding place and were killed.  Six students from that room survived.  Soto, hailed as a hero, was killed. Two other teacher’s aides were killed protecting students, one of whom had been working there only a week.  Lanza then ran out of the building and killed himself with a gunshot to the head.

The events in Newtown sparked renewed uproar from both sides of the spectrum in the fight for gun control. As details of the events unfolded, the politicians and civilians lobbying for gun control took the events to heart and began drafting legislation and speaking in support of gun control.  On the other hand, pro-gun lobbyists also took to the presses, most notably, the National Rifle Association (NRA).  The NRA first spoke out in the days following the tragedy in Newtown, stating that it was going to investigate possible solutions to gun issues in schools, to ensure that a mass shooting in a school would never happen again.  In the weeks following the shootings, anti-gun protesters formed new groups to, “combat the horrors of gun violence.”  One of these groups, One Million Moms for Gun Control, fights in Washington, D.C. for the passage of legislation limiting the type of guns permitted in the United States.

The subject of gun control is one that has been active for decades.  It has gained the spotlight during many presidencies, including the current presidency of Barack Obama.  Obama, a Democrat, voiced his stance on gun control hours after the tragedy in Newtown during a press conference at the White House.  He stated, “And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”  This was considered an aggressive first take on the tragedy, which had happened only 6 hours earlier.  The NRA took another aggressive stance, stating that Congress should appropriate funding for the placement of armed guards at every school across America.  Many disagreed with both statements, and two JCHS students took the time to weigh in.

Joey Martinez, a sophomore at JCHS, who identifies as a Republican and a “modern conservative,” had this to say: “It’s really a shame that so many people have died recently as a result of these ill people getting their hands on a weapon. However, what we have here is not a gun problem. It’s a violence problem. An FBI crime report for 2012 shows that more people have been killed by hammers last year than guns. Do we need hammer control? What about knife control, or car control?…If someone wants to kill, they will kill.”

On the other hand, Kyle Elphick, also a sophomore at JCHS, who identifies as a Democrat, commented, “I believe that measures to control guns in America need to be increased. Although the second amendment does give Americans the right to bear arms, it is commonly known that it was mainly referring to state militias. There is no reason for an American to have access to an assault rifle-like weapon…”

Weeks after the tragedy in Newtown legislation, which was introduced by a Democrat, was presented to the House of Representatives which would place strict limits on the types of weapons permitted in the U.S.  Military-style assault weapons are at the center of this proposed ban, and the pro-gun activists are right in the center of it all.  The President of the NRA has publicly denounced the proposals, saying in an interview with CNN that guns are not the issue, that emotionally disturbed people are the issue, obtaining illegal weapons and taking their emotions out on innocent people.

But it did not stop there.  The gun control activists were outraged that the NRA would place blame entirely on the people, and not any blame on the weapons themselves.  They claimed that without weapons, there would be no issue.

What it really comes down to in the end is what you believe.  Do you want gun control, or do you think the public should have the ability to own any weapon they desire?  It is all up to you. The future of America is in your hands.

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