Do Now #54: Gun Violence in America
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After the tragedy that occurred at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last week, should the government impose stricter gun laws? If not, what should be done?
Last Friday’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has reignited the debate about gun control. As one of the worst mass shootings in American history, it is the latest tragedy in a deadly trail of mass killings. This time 20 of the 27 people killed were small children, which has added momentum to the plea to move on the issue now. Could this finally be the moment for reforming gun laws? Should military style weapons be banned from the streets?
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who has been a leading gun control advocate and authored an assault weapons ban in 1994, which lapsed in 2004, is now expected to offer an updated version of this legislation. Now is exactly the time says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an advocate for gun restrictions, “Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before.” There need to be controls over the sale of weapons and assault weapons do not belong on our streets – this is the clear position of gun control advocates.
But as KQED’s The Lowdown asks, what is it with America’s Love of the Gun? The article points to the figure that “there are 89 guns for every 100 civilians,” according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey. That amounts to roughly 270 million guns owned nationwide, far and away the highest gun ownership rate in the world.
Mitchell Rycus, a University of Michigan professor emeritus who studies violence and terrorism, agrees: “We’ve been a gun-toting society for hundreds of years,” he said. But the focus on guns is misplaced. “The point,” Rycus said in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled Can We Do Anything to Prevent Massacres?, “is that America needs to look harder into the mental instability that often marks a mass killer, and to figure out how to address it.”
Gun-rights advocates, such The National Rifle Association, have said very little in response to the Connecticut tragedy. Their position is that killings are caused by mentally deranged individuals, not by guns and people need to be able to protect themselves from mass murderers. Without this protection, there would be way more violence. The issue is about mental health and not recognizing the symptoms of unhinged individuals.
KQED Forum segment Debating Gun Control After Newtown – Dec. 17, 2012
In a speech at a memorial in Newtown, Connecticut on Sunday, President Obama vowed to use the power of his office to prevent future mass killings. But he stopped short of mentioning any specific proposals. Gun control advocates, including California Senator Dianne Feinstein — who has said she will push for a new assault weapons ban — are calling on the president to act. But supporters of gun rights say that new laws are not the answer, pointing out that Connecticut already had tough firearm regulations.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with@KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow
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PBS NewsHour segment President Obama Honors Shooting Victims, Families: ‘Our Hearts Are Broken Today’ – Dec. 14, 2012
A gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire, killing at least 27, among whom 20 were children. In a press conference at the White House, President Obama spoke emotionally of the nation’s sorrow for the many victims of the deadly shooting and their families.
KQED The Lowdown post The United States of Firearms: America’s Love of the Gun – Dec. 14, 2012
Regardless of where you stand on gun control, the fact remains that America is one gun-toting country. There are 89 guns for every 100 civilians, according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey. That amounts to roughly 270 million guns owned nationwide, far and away the highest gun ownership rate in the world. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. is home to anywhere between 35 and 50 percent of all civilian-owned guns on earth.
Category: Do Now