Gun control debate continues to fade

There’s a white fence in the neighborhood of Newtown, Conn. Different from your ordinary yard staple, this one contains 26 pickets, each adorned with the name of a child or adult who didn’t make it out of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It has been nearly a year since 20-year-old Adam Lanza awoke, shot his mother in their home and went to Sandy Hook where his shooting rampage left 20 first-graders dead, as well as six teachers and workers before taking his own life. Last week a detailed report was released of the crime, outlining each event in excruciating detail but still leaving many questions forever unanswered. There is no clear motive or reasoning. Adam Lanza did not leave a suicide note explaining why he chose Sandy Hook to carry out his crime. One thing that remains undoubtedly clear is Lanza’s arsenal of weapons. Armed with an assault rifle, shotgun and pistol, he made his way into the elementary school and fired off over 150 bullets in a span of less than five minutes. That’s one bullet every two seconds. Following the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, there was an immediate outcry over gun control in this country, with debates between Democrats and Republicans, NRA members and anti-gun activists, raging at an all-time high. But with other governmental issues like the shutdown and admissions of NSA spying, the gun debate has slowly receded into the background of discussions our leaders are having.

With gun-related violence increasingly on the rise, we need to refocus our attention on how to handle this problem. This isn’t a call to ban all firearms and make every state a gun-free zone. But it’s difficult for me to believe that anyone can really say guns are not a problem in this country. After Sandy Hook there were the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard and the Los Angeles International Airport. There’s constant push-back from Republican Legislatures and groups like the NRA, continuously insisting that new gun laws are taking away Second Amendment rights and hindering our ability to live as free, gun-toting Americans.

Many states have tried to introduce new legislation only to see their efforts fall short of making any real progress in Congress. There’s only one state that has managed to drastically change its gun laws. A governor signed into action a new law that banned the sale of AR-15 assault rifles (the same model Lanza used), expanded universal background checks and restricted the sales of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. The governor and state in question? Governor Malloy of Connecticut, the home of Sandy Hook Elementary. While Connecticut managed to reach a bipartisan deal, the future looks grim for most other states. Progress has been slow and looks to continue that way with constant resistance from gun advocates. As much as we may hate to admit this to ourselves, it won’t be long before another shooter makes his way into a school, movie theater or shopping mall and wreaks havoc on more innocent people. The question is when and where.

One final thought: Last April the parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary spoke to Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” about their efforts to push for new gun legislation. One father who lost his son urged people everywhere to think hard about whether or not they truly believed that something like Sandy Hook could every happen to them, and what they could do to prevent it. And here’s the reason why: “Every time it’s somebody else’s school, it’s somebody else’s town, it’s somebody else’s community. Until one day, you wake up, and it’s not.”

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