NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has once again raised questions about the availability of guns in this country.
But this time, will it lead to any answers? As CBS 2’s Drew Levinson reported, Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes it will.
Police have confirmed that gunman Adam Lanza, 20, used a semiautomatic weapon to carry out his deadly rampage at the school. He first killed his mother at the home they shared, before driving to the school and opening fire on two classrooms, leaving 20 children and six adults dead.
Two days later, the debate over gun control has reached a fever pitch.
Authorities say Lanza killed most of his victims with the Bush Master AR 15 assault weapon. He also had two semi-automatic hand guns, a Glock 10mm and a Sig Sauer 9mm.
“Assault weapons, these are weapons of war,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) “They belong on our battlefields, not on our streets.”
While speaking to the victims families Sunday night in Newtown, President Barack Obama said something must be done to end the gun violence.
“We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage; that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” Obama said.
Meanwhile on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mayor Bloomberg said this should be Obama’s top priority on his agenda.
“And if he does nothing during the second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns,” Bloomberg said. “That is roughly the number of Americans killed in the whole Vietnam War.”
But gun rights activists say the answer to curbing violence is not fewer guns, but more – in the hands of those who could save lives.
Pro-gun advocate U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) suggested on Fox News Sunday that if Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung had a gun when she confronted the shooter, the outcome may have been different.
“So when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands,” Gohmert said. “But she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”
The Newtown massacre came the very same week as two major rulings on gun rights in U.S. states – one expanding them, the other limiting them.
In Illinois on Wednesday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago tossed a ban on carrying concealed weapons. Illinois was the only state to maintain an across-the board ban.
The decision gives that state six months to pass a law that would allow ordinary citizens to carry weapons, and while the National Rifle Association was ecstatic, some residents of violent Chicago neighborhoods were agonized, CBS Chicago reported.
“We’ve got enough guns out here now that individuals are carrying legally or illegally. We don’t need that,” said Louvenia Hood, executive director of Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere in Chicago.
Meanwhile in Michigan, the state Senate voted 27-11 against a bill that would have done away with the criminal background check requirement for firearm ownership.
Bloomberg, who co-chairs the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, praised the decision in Michigan last week.
“It’s amazing that the Washington gun lobby thought they could give marching orders to Lansing, but they almost succeeded,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a news release. “Governor (Rick) Snyder and the Senate stood up against enormous pressure to keep Michigan safe – and I join the ten Michigan mayors in our coalition in saying ‘way to go.’”
In the wake of the Connecticut massacre, not only are gun control advocates calling for stricter criminal background checks, but many — including Schumer – say there must also be legislation that prevents mentally ill people from obtaining weapons.
The NRA has not issued a statement on the Newtown school massacre.
Where do you stand on the issue of gun rights and gun control? Please leave your comments below…