News / USA

US School Massacre Reignites Gun-Control and Gun-Rights Battle

Guns are displayed during a rally at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahama, May 8, 2012.Guns are displayed during a rally at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahama, May 8, 2012.
Guns are displayed during a rally at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahama, May 8, 2012.
Guns are displayed during a rally at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahama, May 8, 2012.
Meredith Buel
A major political battle is brewing in the United States over possible new gun control laws in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.  Some of those efforts, however, are likely to face opposition from the National Rifle Association, the most powerful American organization supporting gun rights.

At a rally outside the headquarters of the National Rifle Association near Washington hundreds protested against the pro-gun group.

The killing of young children by a man firing an assault weapon has reignited the debate over gun control and made the NRA a lightning rod for criticism.

Thirty-four Americans are killed every day by firearms, something New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls atrocious.
“This is just ridiculous. This is an outrage. We are killing each other, and we are the only industrialized country in the world doing it,” Bloomberg said.

World Gun Murder RateWorld Gun Murder Rate
World Gun Murder Rate
World Gun Murder Rate
But the political power of the NRA is legendary.  Its four-million members strongly support the fundamental American right to bear arms, enshrined in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Kathy Kiely is managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes government transparency and tracks political contributions by the NRA.

“I think what has kept the NRA powerful and what has kept gun control out of the debate is they are still, within Washington, by politicians, a feared organization.  They are feared because they can turn out the vote and they can turn on lots and lots of campaign contributions, either to support a politician or oppose a politician,” Kiely said.
Conservative columnist John Fund recently spoke about efforts to tighten gun laws on the NRA’s Webcast.

“The bottom line is the laws do not work.  These mass killings are because of psychotic or mentally ill individuals,” Fund said.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner is a strong supporter of gun ownership and has been awarded the NRA's highest rating.  But the carnage in Connecticut is having an impact.

“I, even as a NRA A-rated member believe enough is enough.  We all need to come to the table and end up with appropriate restriction,” Warner said.

Warner is among several usually pro-gun members of Congress who have indicated they would consider voting for new restrictions on gun sales.  

In the past, the NRA’s political muscle has produced significant results.  As part of the backlash to a 1994 assault weapons ban, the group is widely credited with helping engineer a Republican Party takeover of Congress.  

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for Congress to reinstate the ban.
“We know such violence has terrible consequences for our society.  And if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try,” Obama said.

The NRA called the shootings “horrific and senseless” and said it is prepared to offer “meaningful contributions” to make sure similar incidents do not happen again.

Analyst Kathy Kiely says more than half of the members of the new Congress that convenes next month have received funding from the NRA.

“If politicians are hearing from voters, that counts more than dollars.  If they do not hear from voters, it is the money that talks,” Kiely said.

It is not yet clear whether the school massacre will prompt a permanent turning point in the way Americans think about gun control.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
December 21, 2012 9:48 AM
Before having this comment submitted, I had to have read the forum rules and written a code from the test image. I wonder, if the gun enthusiast who had purchased the FIVE assault rifles, was ever questioned to read or write THAT much to prove their conformity & correspondence? Rather not. Anything to please the arms dealers…

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs