The National Rifle Association (NRA) has remained silent on Friday’s tragic massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, even as gun safety advocates are publicly calling for a national conversation about limiting access to dangerous firearms. While information is still emerging about Adam Lanza — the 20-year-old who killed 20 elementary school students, 6 adults, and his mother — preliminary reports indicate that he used at least three guns: two hand guns and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle. The weapons appear to be legally registered to his mother.
The nation’s most well known gun lobby is nowhere to be found, but other gun advocates are responding to the tragedy by demanding more guns, arguing that had school administrators or teachers been allowed to carry guns into Sandy Hook Elementary, the tragedy could have been prevented:
— “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered.” [Larry Pratt, Gun Owners Of America]
— “Had Connecticut not had the no guns in school laws….Had the principal, the maintenance man, a teacher, been allowed to keep a gun in their office, maybe just maybe, this would have come out differently.” [Bob Irwin, The Gun Store]
— “I only wish the kindergarten teacher and principal in Connecticut had been armed.” [Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News]
— “[S]o looking at this tragedy that happened with K-12, we might have to have an armed employee at the schools, that’s a measure, that’s a measure.” [Michele Fiore, Nevada Assemblywoman]
— “Look at what has happened, all these attacks this year have occurred where guns are banned.” [John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime]
— “Well, I believe those of us who are licensed to carry, are responsible people, shouldn’t be prohibited from carrying in schools or other places.” [Steve Dulan, Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners]
Yet even as more Americans now own more guns than ever before and can easily and legally obtain powerful firearms in almost all of the states, mass shootings have continued unabated. 2012 now has the highest number of incidents, with six mass shootings.
The numbers tell the story. In 1995, “there were an estimated 200 million guns in private hands. Today, there are around 300 million” — a 50 percent jump during a period when the population grew by just 20 percent, but gun laws were drastically loosened. In the past four years alone, “across 37 states, the NRA and its political allies have pushed through 99 laws making guns easier to own, easier to carry in public, and harder for the government to track.” Eight states now allow firearms in bars. Permit holders in Kansas “can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools, and Louisiana allows them in houses of worship.” Michigan may soon “make it easier for people to receive a gun permit and open up “gun free zones,” including schools.
Since 1982, the nation has experienced at least 62 mass murders in 30 states and in at least 49 cases, “the gunmen obtained the weapons legally, and the majority of those weapons used were semi-automatic.”
A Mother Jones analysis of 61 mass murders over the last 30 years found that “in not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.” As one leading expert explained, “given that civilian shooters are less likely to hit their targets than police in these circumstances,” arming civilians could often lead to more chaos and deaths.