Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to unveil recommendations for curbing gun violence in America, which claims thousands of lives each year. The recommendations come one month after a deadly shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school that re-ignited a long-simmering debate on gun control.
Gunfire erupted on December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a heavily armed young man shot and killed 20 children and several school administrators. The entire nation recoiled in grief and horror.
Days later, President Barack Obama issued a call to action.
“We cannot tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end," he stated. "And to end them, we must change.”
As victims were laid to rest and the country continued to mourn, Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force on preventing gun violence.
“If our actions result in only saving one life, they are worth taking,” said Biden.
Biden has met with a broad spectrum of interested parties in the gun-control debate, including gun rights advocates. Far from restricting access to firearms, the National Rifle Association urges a greater armed presence in America’s schools.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA chief Wayne LaPierre.
Others say steps can be taken to keep the most lethal weapons out of the hands of evildoers without strangling Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms.
“NRA members know there are solutions to this problem that exist without taking away the right of any law-abiding citizen to own a gun,” said gun-control advocate Dan Gross.
Possible recommendations from Vice President Biden include banning assault weapons as well as high-capacity ammunition clips, strengthening regulation of gun sales, and improving U.S. mental health services.
Firearms merchants report a spike in purchases by gun owners who fear stricter laws will soon be enacted.
Solutions to gun violence crafted in Washington will be only marginally successful, according to analyst Trevor Burrus.
“I am most afraid of doing cosmetic legislation. There is a very big temptation in these situations to do something like an assault weapons ban," he explained. "And say, ‘We did something. Let us pat ourselves on the back and go home,’ even though this is not going to solve the problem.'”
But the post-Sandy Hook mobilization extends well beyond the nation’s capital. Some states, like New York, are considering tougher gun-control laws of their own.
“It is simple. No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer. And too many innocent people have died already," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.. "End the madness now!”
The Sandy Hook shootings stunned a nation long accustomed to gun violence. Vice President Biden’s recommendations come at a time of continued universal outrage over the incident. But congressional consideration of his proposals will likely occur later in the year, when the immediacy of Sandy Hook may have faded.