School shooting stirs nationwide gun debate

The tragic event that occurred in Newtown, Conn., last month has stirred officials in both the state and national governments to take immediate action against gun violence.

Twenty-six people were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 15, and 20 of the victims were children. During the time following the incident, new proposals to prevent further tragedies were, and are still, being discussed.

According to, the state of New York passed a bill Jan. 15 that restricts the sale of guns and ammunition, making it harder to obtain these weapons.

In related news from, it was reported that the National Rifle Association president, David Keene, was not supportive of Vice President Joseph Biden’s proposals to place a limit on high-capacity magazines for bullets, as well as putting a permanent ban on assault weapons.

Dr. John Higley, associate professor of criminal justice, said the time after an event like the Newtown shootings is when most everyone collectively feels something needs to be done.

“Unfortunately, what we tend to do is we pass narrowly focused laws that we think are going to solve the problem or we throw some money at it, thinking it will solve the problem,” Higley said.

There is an urge to respond to the recent violence.

However, the question of who has the right answer is difficult.

“This incident was so outrageous that it’s going to be in everyone’s mind for a lot longer. … It’s why we’ve had this immediate push to get this done and if the president wants to do it, I don’t blame him,” Higley said.

According to Higley, there are also those who have the mindset that any kind of restriction on an individual’s use of own guns is a direct infringement on the U.S. Constitution.

“They say if we’re going to start carving out exceptions to various constitutional measures where are we going to go from there?” Higley said.

After seeing tragedies such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colo., and now Newtown, gun control has become a prevalent topic in America.

“Maybe this is that last straw for people who were kind of ambivalent to it and are now saying somebody needs to do something,” Higley said.

While this issue involves the families and citizens of America, the responsibility for a solution ultimately rests on the shoulders of the U.S. government.

“They’re going to respond to this with a suggestion to limit high-capacity magazines (for bullets) and assault weapons,” Higley said. “Maybe they will do something with that … but what else can they do? What do you as a citizen expect the government to do?”

While no final or concrete decisions have been made by the U.S. Congress or the president, America may either find itself arguing for stricter policies on the use of guns.

About Renee Flannery

Staff Writer

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