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After Shootings, Are Stricter Gun Laws Needed?

The deaths of 19 in Colorado and Wisconsin have sparked a national firearm debate that has reemerged several times in recent years. We want to know which side you're on and why.

Two recent mass shootings have again sparked the national debate on what type of guns and ammunition should be legal for civilians, and what steps they must follow to obtain such weapons.

The 12 dead and 58 injured in the July 20 Colorado movie theater massacre, and the seven dead and three injured in Sunday’s , have drawn responses from both sides of the conversation.

Authorities said the alleged Colorado shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, purchased his arsenal legally. The Springfield 9mm semi-automatic handgun bought by alleged Wisconsin shooter Wade Michael Page, 40, was also a legal purchase, Reuters reports.

Proponents argue guns are defensive tools and it’s the people, not the weapons, that kill. They also point to the Second Amendment, which by its number shows the importance the U.S. founders placed on it. 

But the law was written before semi- and fully automatic firearms, advocates of gun control say. And, as proven by recent mass shootings, the weapons are falling into the wrong hands, they argue.

Larry Bodine, editor in chief of Lawyers.com, called the Colorado and Wisconsin shootings “the latest in a long history of bloodbaths.”

“There have been 50 U.S. rampage killings involving firearms in the last 25 years, and 82 percent involved legally obtained firearms,” he wrote on the Huffington Post. "It's easy to buy a gun today, and 43 states have some form of open carry law, thanks to legislation and the recent Supreme Court decisions."

After the Colorado shooting, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on President Obama and his presumed GOP opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, to propose stricter gun control laws on CBS's Face the Nation.

“This really is an enormous problem for the country, and it's up to these two presidential candidates," Bloomberg said. "They want to lead this country, and they've said things before that they're in favor of banning things like assault weapons. Where are they now and why don't they stand up?"

Obama spokesman Jay Carney told the New York Times that the president’s focus is to “protect Second Amendment rights.”

But, he added, steps must be taken to "ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons."

Following the Colorado shooting, Romney told CNBC that “the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don’t believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy.”

Even if some in Congress wanted legislation that would further gun control, there wouldn’t be enough support from Republicans and some Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

"The votes aren't there for gun control," she told the Huffington Post. "We certainly aren't going to be able to do it in this Congress, and I don't know that we would be able to do it in a Democratic Congress because it takes a lot of votes to go down that path."

Other mass shootings in recent years that have brought about similar debates over gun ownership include:

  • Two teenagers—Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold—killed 12 schoolmates, one teacher and themselves in 1999 in Columbine, Colorado.
  • Virginia Tech University student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 and wounded 15 on the campus in 2007 before taking his own life. It’s the deadliest mass shooting of its kind in the country.
  • An Army psychologist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, opened fire in 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas, killing 13 soldiers and wounding more than 40.
  • U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was seriously hurt in 2011 by a gunshot wound to the head as Jared Lee Loughner opened fired outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona. Six were killed and 13 total were hurt.

Which side of the debate are you on and why? Does the U.S. need stricter gun laws? Tell us in the comments.

Melinda Paris August 08, 2012 at 08:43 PM
"oldtimer" and "Jacque"--right on to both of you! Yes, Kennesaw's law is YOU MUST own a gun to live in the city limits, and guess what, no crime. I'm so sick of these thugs who kill the innocent, and then the cowards will hide behind some law that declares them sick-which is crap, if they would start sending some of these thugs to the electric chair, I say ONE EVERY DAY, all these people that are sick would become well. They are evil, they thrive on the attention and hype of it all and at any cost. If someone gets a gun, loads it up with the intent to kill, then they go out and kill, isn't that pre-meditation? and that's not sick? I have NEVER thrive on being a hero or have wanted to shoot or had the urge to shoot, but since my 16 year old son was home when a person decided to break down two sets of doors to enter our home, I was a PROUD mom, after He shouted for the intruder to leave numerous times, but yet He kept coming with a crowbar or something similiar, He only turned to leave when He saw the gun, THANK GOD, my son had been through gun safety in order to deer hunt with his dad, and Thank God we had a gun, or the end result could have been much worse. The officers that come out, told my son, He should have left them a blood trail to follow, which surprised me, you know there is truth there, but at 16 yrs old, I'm glad He doesn't have anyone's blood on his hands, but if this happens again, this mama ain't playing.
C.J. August 08, 2012 at 08:58 PM
RE: "Blame the person wielding the weapon, not the weapon. The Aurora, CO shooter was working on a PhD. Maybe we ought to outlaw PhD's." Outlaw PhDs? The mass murderers that this discussion responds to used, well, guns and ammo. Were they all carried out by PhDs too? Do you know something that I don't? By the way? Clip v. magazine is relevant to this discussion? If I had written "magazine," would you have been persuaded to support renewing the assault weapons ban? Okay. My mistake. Magazine! Are we good?
Melinda Paris August 08, 2012 at 08:58 PM
For the record, there is a group called "The Freedom Group" buying up alot of American gun manufacturer's, you know who is over the Freedom Group? A scary individual named George Soros-(sorry if that's not the right spelling) He is one of the most liberal people in America and He is ONE SCARY individual, He wants nothing more than to try take our rights away and one of them would be our gun rights. While we're on scary things..I also believe if an idiot wants to ride his motorcycle without a helmet, then He should be allowed, this is a true example of how I'm fed up. I wouldn't ride without one, cause the first thing going to hit the pavement is your head, just common sense. However, if there is goofball's that want to do this, why not let them? Why should the Gov't tell people you "HAVE" to wear a helmet? My point is this: We ALREADY have TOO MUCH GOV'T in our lives, let's see in NYC now they serve drinks with no sugar or some bolgna, its like everytime you turn on the TV, there is some Gov't official barking out what people can/cannot do. We need to make some choices without any interference, and that's the way it is w/guns. I have friends who are scared of them and act all silly, on the other hand, they can't see "good" to drive at night, but guess what, they'll run to the store and etc at night, now that's scary. All these Gov't Laws are out of bounds for us "THE PEOPLE"
David Lancaster August 08, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Has everyone overlooked the fact that three of the events coverd in the original article occurred so called "gun free zones". The Columbine shootings, the VT rampage, and the most recent Colorado.theater murders. Imagine how just one armed citizen may have ended the carnage long before police could respond.
Observer August 08, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Chris, The assault weapons ban covered semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine that had to have two of the following additional features (a folding or telescoping stock, pistol grip, bayonet mount, flash suppressor or a grenade launcher). None of those features significantly enhance the lethality of the basic of operation of the AK-47. Which means that even under the assault weapons ban if I had an AK-47 (semi-automatic) with a pistol grip, but without a folding or telescoping stock or a bayonet mount or flash suppressor or grenade launcher that it would still have been legal. If you want to argue that semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines ought to be outlawed then make that assertion. Reinstatement of the AWB will not achieve that end. Once you have educated yourself on what actually makes an assault weapon an assault weapon and not some arbitrary definition dreamed up by a government bureaucrat, then perhaps we can start to have a meaningful discussion.
Jerry August 08, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Do you wont just the crooks, and law breakers to have guns ?
C.J. August 08, 2012 at 09:50 PM
RE: "For the record, there is a group called "The Freedom Group" buying up alot of American gun manufacturer's, you know who is over the Freedom Group? A scary individual named George Soros..." For the record, that's not true. http://freedom-group.com/2011_10-K.pdf (scroll to page 113) Don't believe everything you read in an e-mail chain.
C.J. August 08, 2012 at 10:07 PM
RE: "Once you have educated yourself on what actually makes an assault weapon an assault weapon and not some arbitrary definition..." The AWB banned AK-47s by name, regardless of whether they included the features you listed. Despite your arrogance on the matter, when is comes to non-military firearms, there is no technical definition of assault weapons. It's just a name for the law. For the purposes of the ban, an assault weapon was whatever Congress defined as an assault weapon in the legislation. Educate yourself on that!
Observer August 08, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Varient AK-47's and AR-15s were not banned under the AWB. Again, reinstating it would have zero effect. The AWB was a sop to gun control advocates by jaded politicians who knew that it had no real teeth, but would result in it's supporters being able to feel morally superior to gun rights proponents. In 1999 the National Institute for Justice, a part of the Justice Department and hardly a bastion of gun rights concluded - "The public safety benefits of the 1994 ban have not yet been demonstrated. This suggests that existing regulations should be complemented by further tests of enforcement tactics that focus on the tiny minorities of gun dealers and owners who are linked to gun violence."
Norman August 08, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Excellent point David. Gun free zones are an invitation to criminals to do what they want without fear of someone standing up to them. Liberals just don't understand the irony.
Just A Grunt August 09, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Chris, The point I was trying to make with the clip versus magazine usage is that is one of the quickest ways to distinguish someone who is familiar with firearms and someone who merely reacting out of some sort of knee jerk emotional reaction. As far as the PhD comment, it seems in the wake of each of these shootings there seems to be a need to assign blame to some sort of external influencer whether it be video games, movies, music or not getting enough hugs from mommy instead of pinning the blame squarely where it belongs, on the individual. The decision on whether or not to use a gun in the commission of a crime or to go on a shooting spree begins and ends with the individual who is wielding the weapon.
Dr. Lou Hilliard August 09, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Ban Spoons they make people fat, ban SUV's they kill people, ban Television because it makes people stupid, ban Mc Donald's because its food causes cancer and heart disease. ban illegals because they take our jobs. lol People have the right to make choices. Some people make good one and bad ones. but if you look at the statistics you will see that the majority of crimes committed by gun toting criminals, are using illegal guns. These recent mass shooting are clearly set up to sway voters in thinking there is a problem and there is, the Government. The government is the problem with there hidden agenda to control the people. Loose the guns, loose you freedom!
Allen August 09, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Ah yes, the old “we need more restrictions.” The problem with this argument is that the government is so good at restricting things. Case in point – drugs. How many tons of that are estimated to work its way into this country now?
Chris Long August 09, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I do believe that all gun owners should be trained, but I struggle w/how to implement that w/o infringing on privacy rights. & I really don't think there's any way to defend the gun show loophole. There can & should be some reform to regulate these sales so that we are doing everything reasonably possible to prevent the sale of guns to people who should not have them. That said, this is largely a "feel good" measure that does nothing about gun theft & the black market, etc. If someone's bent on getting/using a gun, they'll find a way to make it happen. & as the saying goes, "when seconds matter, the police are minutes away." No disrespect to police, but they cannot be omnipresent, & thus can do little to prevent these crimes. Unfortunately they usually can only clean up afterward. The only hope for situations like that is a responsible gun owner. For every Aurora/Columbine (perhaps we should just outlaw Colorado?), there are countless other stories of responsible gun owners preventing crimes, or stopping them before they get worse.
Chris Long August 09, 2012 at 12:49 AM
So, yes, there could be some reform, but the problem is that it always starts w/something "small" or "common sense", but it's never enough. It's the same w/any other hot-button issue. Gun control zealots will always have a never-ending stream of "small" or "common sense" reforms w/the ultimate goal of outlawing all guns, or restricting them so much that it's next to impossible to own them (e.g., allowing ownership, but requiring permits & making it impossibly hard to get/pay for/renew permits or renewals...etc). ICE T has the best take on this issue that I've heard in a while (http://goo.gl/uU5V1). I agree on all points. I'll give my guns up when everyone else does. Don't like it? Molon labe. & the funny thing about this whole discussion is that the more gun control zealots squawk, the more people buy guns.
Allen August 09, 2012 at 01:02 AM
LOL, so Chris you have links to the Southern Medical Journal and the UNODC and calling them facts. No bias there! This happens all the time. Get some group with an agenda to make a report as if its fact and then go around stating that the agreement is over because this groups has stated something as a fact.
Allen August 09, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Okay Chris, you want logic. Try this one. I say that I can produce a study that will prove that a gun in the home is twenty times more likely to result in the death of a household member or visitor than an intruder. Sounds great right? So how will I do it? I would do it by basing my statistical sample on only the most violent inter-city neighborhoods. If you do that, I'm guessing you'll get the results you want.
S Bailey August 09, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Someone missed the whole point of the 2nd Amendment in regards to the Well Regulated Militia. The intent was for Citizens to have local formations in order to respond to needs of violence whether foreign or domestic. The term well regulated was bastardized into what is now the state National Guard & State Defense Forces. The structure of the National Guard does not allow every Citizen to be a part of it and the Georgia State Defense Force is under Mandate to be Unarmed.
C.J. August 09, 2012 at 05:41 AM
RE: "The AWB would result in it's supporters being able to feel morally superior to gun rights proponents..." AWB proponents aren't really interested in reducing the frequency and severity of mass murders...only feeling morally superior to gun rights proponents? Did you run out of facts, Observer, so that you had no choice but to turn to a pop psychological assessment of any and all who disagree with you on the subject? For the record, I hear that "morally superior" nonsense nearly every time I turn on AM radio. Are you so-called conservatives totally incapable of thinking for yourselves? Do you take everything that you hear on talk radio directly into the blood stream...no matter how asinine? A person can't have a discussion on any issue these days without having Neil Boortz and Sean Hannity channeled through their devoted listeners. Try thinking for yourself, Observer. It won't hurt a bit.
C.J. August 09, 2012 at 05:54 AM
RE: "The point I was trying to make with the clip versus magazine usage is that is one of the quickest ways to distinguish someone who is familiar with firearms and someone who merely reacting out of some sort of knee jerk emotional reaction." Do you want to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Grunt? If so, then your statement leads me to believe that you are a nuclear physicist who is familiar with nuclear weapons. Otherwise, applying your logic, you are merely reacting to some sort of knee jerk emotional reaction. Besides, the decision on whether or not to nuke Israel begins and ends with the Supreme Leader who is wielding the weapon. Nukes don't kill people. People kill people.
Max August 09, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Chris, not only what Allen said, but add this to the "studies" experimental design: base the statistics on door-to-door interviews, add a large % of refusal to answer the interviewer, pool together legal and illegal weapon ownership (if you own a gun illegally you are obviously more prone to crime in general), add to the mix the confusion in the public at large (and physicians as well!) between "odd ratios" and "relative risk" and there you get your "statistics". The article you cited is a review of the literature. Read the actual literature and the debate surrounding it. You will see for yourself how much is hype and deception (e.g. you can call a "child" a 17 year old gang member, but it ain't) and how much is facts. I happen to know personally one of these "researchers" at Harvard University School of Public Health. They don't even try to hide their desire for guns just to disappear. The UK is their model. Well, the UK is a country still without a constitution, how about that? Statistics -or lack-there-of-, aside, your fundamental problem is that you must apply a strict scrutiny to a fundamental, enumerated right, not rational basis. That pretty much closes the case for a ban, no matter what numbers or rationale you come up with.
Max August 10, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Chris, drop the AWB baloney.... it's just a make you feel good piece of legislation. I live in Massachusetts, we have an AWB still active: this is what I can buy from my local FFL down route 2: http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_750001_750051_772661_-1_772659_757784_image same make and model as the Aurora shooter (semi auto, pistol grip, 5.56 cal, detach. mag...)....yes, minor cosmetic changes (do you think lacking a flash hider, a bayonet lug or a gas connector for a granade launcher or having a fixed stock makes this weapon any different?) and a smaller magazine (incidentally, those 100 rnd mags are useless, the military does quite well with 20-rnd ones....if all your grief is about those, they can go as far as I'm concerned). also, you like citing international statistics (but I suggest you read the papers, not the summaries of the Brady people): there is almost a million AR-15 like rifles, (FULLY auto/select fire! non the neutered civilian semi auto found in the US) in swiss homes, out of 7 million people. do you see them killing each other like psychopaths? AR are fully compatible with an ordered democracy. also, your understanding of the 2A flies in the face of current constitutional law. Heller protects firearms in common use. semi auto pistols and rifles are in common use. get over it. you don't like it? amend the constitution. the sad issue here is that people like you want to talk about topics they know nothing about.
BStein August 10, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Sounds like you already fell off of a bike without a helmet Melinda....Get out and see the world. Instead of watching it on tv....
R. Anderson August 10, 2012 at 03:23 PM
A friend of mine was a fire fighter. One day a cop comes in the station house and says "I'm going through a divorce and need to sell this AK-47. Anyone interested in it?". My friend a gun collector said "I am." He became the proud owner of an assault rifle.
Chris Long August 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
& therein lies the problem. There will likely never be a problem w/that gun (as there is little to worry about from responsible gun owners), but if the 2 people you mentioned were criminals or otherwise deemed unfit for gun ownership, that exchange still would have happened regardless of any ban or regulation. At best all bans & regulations do is restrict honest people. They do little or nothing to restrict those intent on bending or breaking the law.
Gatewood2002 August 11, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I just wish that there were drug laws in affect so that the drug problem in America would go away. Even devote a Federal Agency to help local and state agencies enforce such laws. I worry more about my children and grandchildren killing themselves by drug abuse more than wounds from gunshots. POINT MADE!
S Bailey August 11, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Guess the Gubmint should ban all motor vehicles....cause so many more people are killed by automobile, truck & motorcycle accidents than any gun violence in this country. BTW, why is the Democrat Party against the 2nd Amendment, when they endorsed the Iraq Constitution allowing every household to have an AK-47 for protection ???
Melinda Paris August 11, 2012 at 04:41 AM
BStein. I've probably seen more of the world than you even know about-your cynical remark wasn't warranted or needed, telling me I have fallen off a bike without a helmet? So, Mr. jokester why so rude, who took your candy away today to make you write something so hateful and personal to me? Did you have razor blades for breakfast is that why you were so rude? OR is it the fact that maybe YOU like big Gov't running your life and I don't? What is it that would make YOU talk to me so rudely, I had not attacked you, so what is up with your very rude and personal remark to me? Maybe you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer either, buster. SO go ahead and gouge at me some more, I can take it, I have my big girl drawers on! Give your best shot...come one, I've been around your kind before, you can "TRY" to intimidate, belittle or whatever else you can throw at me, it will bounce off me like Turtle wax on a old car. Have a good weekend, maybe something good will come your way to make you nice.
Melinda Paris August 11, 2012 at 04:45 AM
AND...btw. I didn't get my information off the TV, I don't watch the idiot box, someone I know mentioned that about George Soros, and even though that remark "may" be incorrect, HE DOES have some interest in some of our gun companies in this country, irregardless of what you say and think, and another word for liberals is "progressive" and I believe He owns that insurance company too...Progressive, Liberals, whatever you want to call the tree huggers, and for your information, I have been at the hospital for the last five of six weeks with a very ill and sweet Father, and He passed away last week, and the last thing I need this week is some STRANGER passing judgement on me for no reason and I watched basically no TV at the hospital, as He struggled to live and got on his nerves, so there you go Mr. Know it all, as you can see you don't know much about nothing and absolutely NOTHING about me, try being nice you might like it. If you don't agree with someone that's fine, but no reason to be a jerk!
S Bailey August 11, 2012 at 05:23 AM
George Soros has said that the United States of America is the main problem & impediment against One World Government. He is anti-gun, anti-Constitution, anti-Freedom, anti-Capitalist....yet he's here in America & made part of his fortune on the backs of the American People. Yes, he was a founder of the Progressive Ins. Co. (think Flo)....but it is alleged he sold his shares in the company a few years ago. I'm not quite sure how true that is. I'm sorry that some folks can't control their misanthropic judgements on others.

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