Should Gun Control Become a Campaign Issue?

The senseless violence in Aurora, Colorado after James Holmes allegedly shot and killed twelve movie goers there for a midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises has many Americans calling for drastically tighter gun laws.  Except President Obama and likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In a speech to the Urban League, President Obama said he advocated for closing some gun law loopholes.  On NBC, Governor Romney noted stricter laws would not prevent future shootings, suggesting other reasons for violence such as mental illness which gun laws don’t address.  Both men were quick to express their condolences to the friends and families of the victims that died by weapons and ammunition bought legally.

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Courtesy: Associated Press

This is the latest in a long, bloodstained list of mass shootings, including Virginia Tech where thirty-three including the gunman died; the Tuscon tragedy where six were killed and others were injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; and the shooting less than twenty miles from Aurora at Columbine High School that slayed thirteen victims.

The Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence has fought to tighten our gun control laws by pushing legislation and issuing reports.  Since 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns led by New York City’s Michael Bloomberg  and 600 mayors are working to close loopholes like not conducting background checks.  After the theater shooting, they partnered with Tuscon shooting survivors and family members to demand a plan from both President Obama and Governor Romney to end gun violence as seen in a full-page ad that appeared in USA Today. 

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Courtesy: Edward Reed

Critics point to the power of the gun lobby, especially the National Rifle Association (NRA) which watchdog website Open Secrets notes has spent millions of dollars lobbying politicians to oppose gun restrictions.  The NRA firmly believes guns don’t kill, rather people kill and vow to defend the second amendment to our Constitution which states:

“A well regulated, militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (Emphasis added).

It’s in the interpretation: advocates argue owning a gun is a constitutional right that allows people to defend themselves, although a recent Mayors Against Illegal Guns poll shows gun owners overwhelming support some controls, as do surveyed Latinos.  Those in favor of gun control believe more regulation is needed to keep them out of the hands of the mentally ill or criminals.

I personally support tighter gun laws, despite being mugged at gunpoint soon after moving to Washington, DC.  I also believe someone who hunts should be able to legally obtain a gun.  But why would any regular person need semi-assault weapons and enough ammo to blow a city block off the face of the earth as the accused Aurora gunman was able to stockpile?

No major gun control legislation has passed in more than a decade.  Will it become a campaign issue?  Likely not, in part because the economy and jobs are top issues for voters.

This post appears in Latina Magazine where I am a weekly politics columnist as Election 2012: Should Gun Control Become a Campaign Issue?

To read more of Viviana’s Election 2012 columns in Latinaclick here.

Do you believe gun control should become a top campaign issue?

 

Comments

  1. says

    EXACTLY! I’ve had this discussion with several friends and family members since the Aurora shooting. I’m not against the Second Amendment and I’m not against hunting – it has certainly provided a good bit of food on my family’s table. But I do think a weapon like this that is designed only for killing people – and MANY people at once – should only be available to our troops, and NONE should be sold to civilians because even if you are a responsible gun owner, what happens if you get robbed or when you die?

    I don’t understand the 2nd Amendment argument really, because as you mentioned it says, people have the right to keep and bear arms. But it does not say we have the right to have access to ALL weapons. That’s just absurd. I don’t know if people are allowed to buy bazookas or cannons or chemical warfare legally, but if they are, that would be stupidity on our nation/government’s part. When our forefathers were drafting the Bill of Rights, our nation’s army consisted of THE PEOPLE. Today, that’s not the case. We have a huge, strong army to protect us from “invading” nations.

    It’s our government’s responsibility to uphold the laws, but it is also their responsibility to protect the people. And time changes. The people living in our country today with access to weapons are a far cry from the people fighting to build a nation back in 1791. So is our environment.

    Time does not stand still. It marches on and we must be able to change with it to meet the needs of the here and now.

  2. says

    I don’t get the hype of gun control…. These kids or young men that are committing this haneous crimes are not legal owners of the guns they’re using… A random killer, no matter how big or small the crime is not carrying around a registered gun. Monica, I agree with you in part, but what about irresponsible gun owners that SELL their guns, give them away and are simply dumb with it. They do exist. I know someone with a shotgun, legally purchased and owned. What he’s going to do with? Probably nothing but go hunting in the woods. Why should he be kept from purchasing one? I think background checks are super essential and way overdue.

  3. says

    Viviana, Thank you for bringing this issue up. I agree that there should be more oversight, and some thoughtful, reasoned discussions. It doesn’t make sense to me that there is not some serious investigation of the issues given the multitude of examples you give above. Let’s hope both sides are listening…

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