The debate on both sides of gun legislation has turned into debates such as: armed guards vs. armed educators, mental health, states rights vs. federal mandates, etc.
With the talks of gun legislation being inevitable of discussion in the United States, a very clear line has been drawn. However, it's not just one one that's being drawn in the sand; in fact, it's a whole bunch of political lines being drawn in the sand. These lines move back and forth, get blurred, or grow longer. It is an example on the great political divide when it comes to gun legislation. What reignited this debate. One has to look back to what happened ten days ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut. 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into the school and killed almost 30 people. Most of the victims killed were just children.
The outrage over the deaths of children was the push that gun control advocates needed in order to resurrect the talks of gun control. However, gun rights advocates aren't going down with a fight. Instead, they are “meeting force with force.” They are defending the right to bear arms. Just about everybody is having their say either in support of gun control or in opposition of gun control; but, it's not just that. You have various people saying other things that should be done in terms of making sure such mass shootings don't happen again in the future.
Currently, the National Rifle Association and it's vice-president & CEO Wayne LaPierre is on center stage. After breaking its silence and giving a press conference, LaPierre went full swinging in his defense of guns. He called upon the idea of armed guards at every school across the United States. LaPierre rejected any new talks of gun legislation. LaPierre insists that a “good guy with a gun” would've been able to neutralize the shooter before people got killed.
LaPierre joined in the finger pointing. One such group that fingers were pointed were allegedly those that have mental illnesses. However, that has put LaPierre and the rest of the NRA under fire from various psychiatrist organizations. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) said it was “disappointed” about LaPierre using terms such as “monsters” and so forth. According to the APA's president, only a small percentage of violent crimes are committed by those that are mentally ill. The group's CEO added in by saying that LaPierre is bringing the argument that evil people and mentally ill people are the same.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is taking the same stand as the APA. According to that organization, it hasn't been established that Adam Lanza was going through any mental illnesses.
However, the NRA doesn't seem to be buying it. According to the NRA's public affairs director, there is the argument that Lanza could have been mentally ill and that there's no reason not to rule out that possibility.
Also, LaPierre has taken political fire from the Israeli government. LaPierre, when on NBC's “Meet the Press,” talked about Israel. According to what LaPierre said, the State of Israel has seen its fair share of school shootings. He talked about how the schools have armed security in every school.
Israel's Foreign Ministry gave LaPierre an earful in its response. In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry said that the situations in the United States and Israel are very different from each other. It also added that the country doesn't have a series of school shootings; it had to deal with terrorism. Also, it talked about its anti-terrorism policy. It warned LaPierre not to drag Israel into this domestic discussion.
An Israeli police officer, who's a former Israeli Army colonel, said that one cannot compare a school shooter with problems and a trained terrorist. Also, it points out that gun laws in Israel are very tight. Furthermore, licenses to own a gun have to renewed on a regular basis. Israel's Public Security Ministry said that it's crucial to manage the training, licensing, and authorization of those that wish to carry firearms around.
CNN anchor Don Lemon ranted in favor of gun control. He talked about getting bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. Lemon said that such weapons should be only made available to law enforcement and to those hunting down terrorists. In terms of mental health, Lemon called it a “secondary issue.” But, he did say that mental issues do need to be addressed.
Also, Lemon had a panel on the discussion. In the panel, there was the talk about profiling white men. This is due to recent mass shootings, except for the Virginia Tech Massacre, being white males. One panelist asked that why the composite of mass shooters a white male.
Democratic Mayor Cory Booker of New Jersey who is known as the “supermayor,” who is entertaining the idea of a 2014 United States Senate run, seemed to be standing in the “middle ground” in the whole issue. When on ABC's “This Week,” Booker called the whole gun control debate a “falsehood.” He said that it wasn't a true debate at all.
Booker said the debate is a ploy to divide the country up. He went after the panel, which included NRA board member and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, saying that he doesn't know if any of the other panelists have seen somebody get shot. Booker went and said he's seen someone get shot; then, he questioned if anybody else in the panel had to put pressure on a gunshot wound to keep the victim from bleeding to death.
In terms of law-abiding citizens buying guns, Booker's not afraid of it. He also pointed out the no-fly list. Booker asked why people who are on the no-fly list are able to go to a secondary market and buy a weapon. He said that criminals are the ones killing people, not the law-abiding citizens.
With that said, it seems Booker is drawing a definitive line in the middle of the debate.
Currently, there are pro-gun and gun-control legislation bills being circulated through individual states. In Florida, there are talks of allowing teachers and principals to carry firearms at the workplace. In New Jersey, a Democratic lawmaker wants to have a commission to study gun violence and expand behavioral health treatment for those who may commit violent crimes in the future. In Tennessee, a GOP lawmaker is calling for adults on school campuses to be armed. In Wisconsin, GOP Governor Scott Walker may be open to an assault weapons ban; but, he wants to focus on mental health.
Republicans in Congress are the ones who are seemingly taking the “middle ground” like Booker is.
Despite the growing calls for gun control, the NRA and other pro-gun groups are getting support. The weapons show at the Live Oak Civic Center was flooded with prospective buyers. The Houston Chronicle reported of ammunition for the AR-15 was the common item being bought at the show.
US News started a debate on the possibility of more armed guards at schools to prevent gun violence. Erich Pratt, the director of communications for Gun Owners of America, wasn't in favor of the idea; instead, he said let the teachers and principals carry concealed weapons. That brings of the debate of having armed guards vs. arming school faculty & staff. These are examples of the different arguments that are pro-gun. However, not all the pro-gun arguments are in favor of having armed guards at all schools. You still have the pro-gun arguments that say adults at school should be armed.
However, one cannot forget the gun-control arguments. An op-ed on the Washington Post talks about “five myths of gun control” that support the gun-control side. The first myth is that discussing guns would hurt the Democrats; instead, it points out that single issues rarely determines who ends up the victor in elections. It points out how NRA's spending for campaigns was dwarfed this year. The op-ed points out that while gun murders make the headlines, more people in the country die from gun-related suicides than murders. Also, it points out that schools are still safe for kids than the homes or streets.
Educators are seemingly one of the biggest opposition groups to the gun lobby. In a Washington Post blog in the College, Inc. section, hundreds of college presidents have signed an open letter to urge Congress to get working on new gun control laws. The letter is from “College Presidents for Gun Safety.” There were signatures from various universities; however, there weren't many signatures from the heads of the top-name schools.
In New York City, gun-control advocates joined together at the Brooklyn Bridge. The gathering was to show the attitudes toward gun-control.
The US federal judge who presided over the case of Jared Lee Loughner, the person responsible for the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, gave his support for an assault weapons ban. Then-Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was wounded with a gunshot to the head in the shooting. The judge was pretty vocal in the opposition to assault weapons.
GOP Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, when on CBS' “Face the Nation,” seemingly also held the middle ground. Hutchison gave her support on gun control legislation and talked about high-capacity ammo clips and semi-automatic weapons. She called those two the real danger. However, she gave her support of having more armed police officers in schools. But, she said that it had to be made at the local levels. With that, it brings up the federal level vs. local level debate.
GOP Mayor Ken Short of Washington Township gave his support to “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” While he supports the 2nd Amendment, he doesn't support assault weapons. In respects to those, Short says that you're not going after a target, you're going after people. Short was in the US Army National Guard and the NRA. Short gave the idea of background checks being extended to the members of those that plan to own guns. He points out the guns used in the shooting belonged to Lanza's mother who legally owned them.
Also, religious leaders are weighing in on gun control. Rowan Williams, who plans to step down as archbishop of Canterbury, that people and guns use each other. Giving his support in favor of stricter gun laws, Williams said that we become more tempted into violent action when we have the tools of violence easily at our disposal.
GOP Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for President a couple of times, spoke about the NRA's response to the Sandy Hook shootings. Paul agrees that more guns would mean less crime taking place; but, he didn't like the idea of armed cops or guards at the schools. He felt the idea of armed guards at the school would be totalitarian. In short, Paul is seemingly taking his own “middle ground” on the subject as well. For the most part, it doesn't seem Paul likes the ideas from both the NRA and the political left.
An article on Commentary Magazine says that LaPierre's idea is a “liberal” idea and not a “conservative” idea. The article calls LaPierre's idea of placing armed guards at all schools in the United States a threat against individual liberties. It criticizes LaPierre's idea as it would place the schools under federal control. The article does point out that there's still plenty of support for gun-rights; but, not in the hard line position taken by the NRA.
Many lines are drawn in different directions. You have the gun-control vs. the gun-rights debate; but, you have many other debates that stem from this. The debate is so simple yet very complex at the same time.