More than a month has gone by since the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., where 20 children and six adults lost their lives. Now, the issue of gun control takes precedence in the media and in President Obama’s agenda as parents, activists, teachers and politicians demand that the issue be addressed and changes be made.
In a press conference held a week after the shooting, the National Rifle Association (NRA) told America to “face up to the truth,” explaining that the nation’s priorities have gotten “out of order” and schools are left defenseless against “genuine monsters.” CEO Wayne LaPierre recited a list of violent video games, movies and music videos that contribute to massacres such as the Sandy Hook shooting and then called for tightened security in the form of armed guards. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said LaPierre.
Outrage over the notion of adding more guns to schools exploded from gun-control advocates on social media, and anti-gun organizations received an unprecedented amount of support from concerned Americans. On the other side, the NRA received an outpouring of new members and supporters when they learned that gun control laws could be tampered with. The NRA has gained over 250,000 members in the last month, which they advertise in their recently-released videos defending themselves against the media, who has voiced their critical opinions on their proposal to have armed guards at every school.
While the town of Newtown mourned and deliberated what should be done for the safety of the elementary school, the NRA met with the White House approximately two weeks ago to discuss school safety with Vice President Joe Biden. The NRA posted a statement on their website after the meeting stating that they were “disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.”
President Obama received and released Vice President Biden’s recommendations on modifying gun-control laws last Wednesday. Among the 23 actions listed in Obama’s proposal, universal background checks, limiting gun magazine capacity to 10 rounds and improving the federal background check system by “addressing unnecessary legal barriers” were some of the top priorities.
Shortly after the recommendations were released, the NRA created a 35-second video that asked, “Are the President’s kids more important than yours?” and calling the president a hypocrite and attacking the white house.
The debate over what to do about gun laws since the latest massacre will continue for an extensive amount of time. Students at Christopher Newport University, when asked how they feel about the proposal from President Obama as well as the NRA’s proposal to have armed guards in every school, responded confidently, swaying both ways.
“I don’t think (having armed guards) will make the situation better or worse. A concealed weapon is just that,” says John Nettles, a senior at CNU. He says that the thought of a gunman on campus has crossed his mind and has threatened his safety, but we can’t live in fear. “The lives of Americans have changed because of the Sandy Hook shooting,” he said, comparing the situation to acts of terrorism.
Debbie Dean, a senior English major at CNU, agrees, saying that criminals are still going to find a way to acquire a gun even if the laws are stricter. She likes the idea of having armed guards in schools, but perhaps not on a college campus.
Another English major, junior Laura Laragalli, says it’s not a matter of restricting guns, but about running mental health checks. “It’s not the guns, it’s the people,” she said, leaning towards the notion of having armed guards in grade schools.
Mass communication systems have been set up on many college campuses since the Virginia Tech Massacre occurred more than 5 years ago. CNU has implemented a system called CNU Alert, which has installed a siren across campus to sound during Level 3: Immediate Catastrophic Events as well as text messages and email messages that are sent to every student during an emergency. But is it enough for those who fear for their safety, especially after a tragedy like Sand Hook?
In the coming weeks, Obama will ask Congress to pass the laws he has suggested in his proposal, perhaps with some difficulty.