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School massacre reopens gun control debate in US

Posted December. 17, 2012 05:41,   


The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has reignited calls for gun control in the U.S.

Debates over gun control have sprung up in America whenever a shooting occurs but with lack of significant progress. This time, however, things seem different.

The U.S. is the world’s most heavily armed country with its people owning 270 million guns, meaning that 32 percent of households have guns. As a result, about 30,000 Americans are killed by gunfire each year.

Earlier this year, mass shooting occurred at public places such as a movie theater in Colorado and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. But efforts to legislate strong gun control ended in failure. This is because opposition to gun control is strong in the U.S. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms, is the strongest legal defense against stricter gun control.

In the early 1990s, just 19 percent of Americans opposed gun control but the figure skyrocketed to 54 percent last year as the country grew more conservative. The proportion of people who think stronger gun control is necessary plummeted from 78 percent to 44 percent.

Federal gun control disappeared after 2004 with the abolition of a law banning the use of a gun for self-defense. Since then, states have changed laws to alleviate restrictions on gun possession, including allowing people to not only possess guns but also carry them.

Among the 50 states, 25 allow citizens to carry guns in public places, including parks, government buildings and restaurants. On Saturday, CNN said there are people who argue that guns should be allowed in schools, the last bastion of gun-free zones, adding that the argument demonstrates how difficult it is to control guns in the U.S.

Legislation for tougher gun control has been a hot potato not only for Republicans but also for Democrats, fearing they might lose votes. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and other top Democrats have opposed gun control. In 1994, then President Bill Clinton and the Democrats suffered a crushing defeat in a midterm election after getting a law banning guns for self-defense passed.

In the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, incumbent President Barack Obama pledged Saturday to take “meaningful action” for gun control, though he was not specific. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John A. Boehner, a Republican, offered his condolences to the victims, but said nothing on much-needed gun control.

The New York Times said that given political interests and the deep-rooted sentiment advocating the right to possess guns, it is unclear if legislation and enforcement of gun control will be possible.

Experts say that even if gun control gets strong in the U.S., partial improvement will likely be made for verifying personal identification and prohibiting high-performance ammunition rather than a non-differential ban of firearms.