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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More