No Chance of Stronger US Gun Laws

It took the Newtown shooter five minutes to kill 26 people. Three months later, banning assault rifles like the one he used is still a long way off.

When police investigators searched the home of the man responsible for the murder of 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last year, they found samurai swords, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a National Rifle Association handbook on the fundamentals of pistol shooting.

On Thursday, the police released their final report on the Newtown massacre. It contains information that goes directly to the heart of the continuing debate about the reform of gun laws in the United States. According to the report, Adam Lanza needed only five minutes to murder 26 individuals at the Sandy Hook school. In those five minutes, he fired 154 rounds from his Bushmaster assault rifle so, on average, he fired about one round every two seconds. That was possible only because of the type of rifle he used — a semi-automatic assault rifle — and because the magazines he used held 30 rounds each.

Chickenhearted Senators

But anyone who thought that this haunting example might move American lawmakers toward banning semi-automatic assault rifles was clearly mistaken. Just last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would not introduce any legislation banning assault rifles or high-capacity magazines.

The reason he dropped the idea was because any such legislation would also have to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it would already be deemed dead upon arrival. In addition, Republicans in the Senate threatened to filibuster such a move with non-stop speeches.

Democratic hesitation to support such legislation was also fueled by the thought that several Democratic senators in states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia are up for re-election in 2014. In all of these states there are significant rural populations, with some living in remote locations, where gun ownership is part of the popular culture and is considered necessary for personal security.

But in the rest of the country, the hunger for gun law reform is fading — just as the memory of the deaths of the children and their teachers fades with the passage of time. CBS News broadcast the results of a poll showing that now just 47 percent of the American public favors stronger gun legislation. Just prior to the massacre, 57 percent had favored strengthening the laws.

Similar results were also reported by CNN: After Newtown, 52 percent favored toughening gun laws, even up to a ban on gun ownership. Three months later, that figure has fallen to just 43 percent. Above all, people over 50 years of age and those who live in rural areas are now less likely to favor tougher gun laws.

The issue divides men and women as well as Democrats and Republicans. Fifty-five percent of women and two-thirds of Democrats favor stricter controls, but only 39 percent of men are in favor of tougher laws, while 52 percent of Republicans want to see no changes at all to current gun laws.

The Helpless President

Republicans, spurred on by the NRA lobby, are doing everything they can to sabotage the reform movement. Republican Senator Charles Grassley, for example, has introduced his own suggestions for reform that would do nothing to affect banning certain types of weapons or the size of magazines permissible. It would only draw out an already cumbersome legislative process.

Meanwhile, President Obama can only watch helplessly from the sidelines. On Thursday, he invited the families of those killed to a White House function, where he could do little more than appeal to the American conscience, saying, “Shame on us if we’ve forgotten. I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.” The president then went on to say that “[t]here are some powerful voices on the other side who are interested in running out the clock.”

Obama’s best hope now is the $13 million gun control campaign led by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants to target those Democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2014 as a way to pressure them for their support.

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1 Comment

  1. Blah Blah Blah you just don’t get it. Here we go again. Plain & Simple. Adam Lanza the shooter did not own that gun legally.. It was his mother’s who he killed and stole her gun. So do you really believe that. Nutcases like Lanza are.going to abide by Gun Control laws.. Of course not. Outlaws & nuts will continue unabated while law abiding citizens will comply. In other words.. IF YOU OUTLAW GUNS’ ONLY THE OUTLAWS WILL.HAVE GUNS!

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