Advocates push for discussion on gun control
The White House was quick to say that the day of the Connecticut school shooting was not an appropriate time for a discussion about gun laws. The statement prompted gun control advocates to flood websites and Twitter with variants of the question – if the time is not good now, when will it be?
Dan Cross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said: “Another horrific shooting eating away at our collective peace of mind . . . We are better than this. What matters is not what we do after the sensational tragedies. It’s what we do between them – to make the voice of the American public heard.”
US president Barack Obama has resisted any move towards gun control in spite of a series of major shooting incidents during his presidency. He has been reluctant to address the issue when opinion polls have consistently shown the overwhelming majority of the population oppose gun laws.
Gun control advocates’ only hope this time round is that the age of the children might shift opinion.
Liberal gun laws in the US became even more lax during Mr Obama’s four years of presidency. Gun sales also jumped, fuelled by misplaced fears that he had been planning restrictions. Asked at the daily press conference whether the shooting would raise gun control up the president’s agenda, White House spokesman Jay Carney said there would be a day for discussion on the policy issue, “but I don’t think today is that day”.
He said Mr Obama was moved by the shooting: “As a father, incidents like these weigh heavily on him.”
There was a public outcry after the Columbine school shooting in 1999 and the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Calls for gun control were renewed last year when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona and again this year, though to a much lesser extent, when 12 were killed in a cinema at Aurora, Colorado.
The debate over gun laws was largely absent from this year’s White House race. The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, said he saw no need to change any of the laws, even to restore a limited restriction on automatic assault rifles. Mr Obama agreed.
Both candidates had supported limited gun controls in the past but dropped this in the face of polls showing widespread support for the right to carry guns.
A Gallup poll last year found a record low in support for gun controls, just 26 per cent. When Gallup first asked the question in 1959, there was 60 per cent support.
During the campaign, when asked about Mr Obama’s position, Mr Carney said the president’s main focus was to protect the second amendment, the constitutional protection for gun ownership.
The only high-profile voice in favour of gun control is the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
– (Guardian Service)