Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

A Different Arms Race: Newtown Tragedy Brings Gun Control to the White House

On Friday, December 14, 2012, one of the most devastating American tragedies since 9/11 happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. At 9:30 am, twenty-six victims–twenty children, six adults–were killed by Newtown resident Adam Lanza. Many suspect that Lanza, suffered from a developmental disorder, most likely Asperger’s syndrome. He had obtained the guns used at Sandy Hook from his mother, Nancy Lanza, the first victim of that Friday, who used to go trap shooting.

While the nation mourns the loss of Newtown’s children and teachers, Sandy Hook has been a wake-up call for Congress and the White House to make some decisions about how to address the regulation of gun control.

One month prior to the events of December 14, Specialist in Domestic Security and Crime Policy William J. Krausse compiled a Congressional Research Service report titled “Gun Control Legislation”. The report goes into extensive detail and explores “Federal Regulation of Firearms,” “Issues in the 112th Congress,” and “Other Salient Gun Control Legislative Issues.”   Most importantly, the report recounts that gun control has been an issue that needs addressing, because of the recent events that even preceded Sandy Hook:

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. In the wake of the July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater mass shooting, in which 12 people were shot to death and 58 wounded (7 of them critically) by a lone gunman, it is likely that there will be calls in the 112th Congress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices that expired in September 2004. There were similar calls to ban such feeding devices (see S. 436/H.R. 1781) following the January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, mass shooting, in which 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded. These calls could be amplified by the August 5, 2012, Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee, WI, in which six worshipers were shot to death and three wounded by a lone gunman.

In a “Letter from Victims and Families of Mass Shootings in America” sponsored by the Brady Campaign and written by relatives of mass shooting victims, claims that “every day in America, 32 more families lose loved ones to gun murders.” The letter notes that  “most in tragedies that do not make national headlines because they are so common.”

The “Letter” is ultimately a plea for politicians to put aside their political differences and put in “sensible solutions” in place to protect Americans from gun violence–they believe the American people have the right to “hold our elected leaders accountable to do everything they can to enact such solutions.”

President Obama alluded to bringing the gun control debate forward to the White House in his speech during the multi-faith vigil held at Newtown High School on Sunday, December 16, but there are no proposed legislations at this time for gun regulation.

In the meantime, an article in The New York Times reports that Dick’s Sporting Goods has temporarily removed the rifles from the shelves and Bass Pro Shop has removed Bushmaster rifle–one of the guns Lanza reportedly used–from their website. has removed the information blurb about Bushmaster rifle on their website, but continues to sell the guns.

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