Newtown tragedy prompts gun control debate

Ryan DeOliveira

In the wake of the tragic deaths of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the nation has focused on ways to curb gun violence. Many have proposed stricter gun laws along with an improved mental health system. Proposals that seek new limits on gun ownership have been met with controversy.

In order to deal with the issue of gun control, President Obama appointed Vice President Biden to lead a gun violence task force. The group will consist of experts on the issue across the spectrum of political beliefs. The task force will study issues relating to guns and gun violence and at some point will release policy proposals to help deal with this issue. The group may back a new assault weapons ban, more stringent background checks for gun buyers, a national database tracking gun sales, and stronger mental health examinations for gun buyers. However, it remains to be seen what exactly the task force will suggest.

In response to the Newtown tragedy several political leaders have already suggested changes to gun control laws. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has promised to introduce a new assault weapons ban to congress by the end of January.

Along with Senator Feinstein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has been a vocal advocate in favor of gun control. In a December press conference on the issue he said “failing to enact gun control will be a stain upon our nation.” Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns has begun running television commercials in favor of stricter gun control. The Group also has a website,, which encourages change in gun policy.

On the other side of the coin, anti gun control groups such as the National Rifle Association, or the NRA, have added their opinions about the debate. Many including the NRA feel that gun control legislation would not accomplish much. NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre suggested having armed guards in schools rather than passing new gun control legislation. Several Republican legislators in the house have stated that they will not support any new laws to control guns.

Some JCHS students weighed in on the issue. One student, a senior, said “I really don’t think changing gun laws will solve the problem. If someone wants to kill people, they’ll find another way.” Another student disagreed, saying “we really need to control guns to prevent this from happening again in the future.”

In the coming months, new gun control legislation will likely be proposed. The debate in Washington will be very contentious.