Gun Control
June 15, 2013
Should firearms be more tightly regulated?

Despite national outrage after shooters massacred 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school and 12 moviegoers in Colorado, Senate gun-rights supporters in April blocked new efforts to limit gun sales nationwide. Besides killing a ban on assault-style weapons, senators also blocked a proposal to expand background checks on gun purchasers, which polls showed had broad public support. Meanwhile, 20 states enacted laws expanding gun rights so far this year, while nine states passed laws strengthening gun controls. President Obama has begun implementing nearly two dozen executive actions to help reduce gun violence. Although fewer Americans own guns, — the number of firearms has risen 50 percent in 20 years — a trend that accelerated this winter as consumers rushed to buy guns in expectation of possible new federal restrictions. Currently, about 300 million firearms are in circulation in the United States, but those are owned by only one-third of the nation's households.

Retired Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham III fights back tears on April 24 as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announces it is suing Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., on behalf of the Wortham family. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)   Retired Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham III fights back tears on April 24 as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announces it is suing Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., on behalf of the Wortham family. The shop allegedly sold the gun used to kill Wortham’s son, Chicago police officer and Iraq War veteran Thomas Wortham IV, to a “straw” purchaser. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)

Four months after Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, ambitious efforts to overhaul the nation’s gun laws by President Obama, prominent Senate Democrats and gun control advocates died on the Senate floor. The defeat occurred after months of divisive national debate — sparked by the massacre — about the causes of gun violence.

Gun safety advocates, such as the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, funded by New York’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, squared off against gun rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Fairfax, Va., and Gun Owners of America in Springfield, Va.

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