News / USA

US Lawmakers Mull Gun Control After Connecticut School Shootings

A student is consoled after he placed flowers on a memorial at the entrance to Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut December 18, 2012.
A student is consoled after he placed flowers on a memorial at the entrance to Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut December 18, 2012.
Michael Bowman
Any U.S. gun-control legislation would have to pass both houses of a politically-divided Congress.  While lawmakers universally mourn last week's carnage in Newtown, Connecticut, they are far from united on how to prevent mass-shootings in the future.

Recent days have seen impassioned Senate floor speeches on gun violence.  Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal recounted time spent with the parents of slain schoolchildren in Newtown.

“I will live forever with the sights and sounds, the cries and sobbing, the cries of grief and anguish.  The look on those faces,” he said.

Democratic lawmakers who have long-advocated stricter gun control laws are speaking out with renewed urgency.  Senator Barbara Boxer says America is awash in firearms.

“Three hundred million firearms in the United States today, nearly one gun per person.  More than 31,000 people die each year from gun violence in our nation,” she said.

Boxer and other gun-control backers want to ban access to high-powered firearms and high-capacity ammunition clips, and tighten requirements for background checks before a gun can be purchased.

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, is non-committal on steps he might endorse in the wake of the Newtown slayings.

“As we continue to learn the facts, Congress will examine whether there is an appropriate and constitutional response that would better protect our citizens,” he said.

The U.S. Constitution sets forth “the right to bear arms.”  America’s judiciary has long-wrestled with the constitutionality of government restrictions on that right.

Some Republicans, like Senator Susan Collins, say they are open to curbs on gun ownership. “In 2004, I voted for an extension of the assault weapons ban,” she said.

Others question whether any law or regulation can actually stop those with violent intent. 

“Every bad event in the world cannot be fixed by government action.  This is a hard problem to solve,” said Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator Blumenthal rejects that argument. “Sadly, there have always been, and there always will be, mentally-deranged or hateful people who want to lash out violently at the world," he said. "But even if we cannot prevent all of these tragedies, we must not surrender and say we will do nothing to prevent any of them.”

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has pledged to introduce legislation renewing an expired ban on assault weapons in the United States.  Asked about the chances of the measure passing both the Democratically-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House, Feinstein said, “This is an uphill climb every step of the way.”

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid