Gun Control: Assault Weapons

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Should the United States Government pass laws that would prevent the production and sale of semi-automatic assault weapons?
Recently, an interesting and heated controversy about the regulation of semi-automatic firearms has been taking place in the United States of America. This controversy has arisen because of recent tragedies that have occurred throughout the country. A couple of these tragedies include the mass shooting in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, and the mass killing of twenty children and six faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Two other recent events that have sparked the controversy were the shooting in Tucson, Arizona where Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords was shot and at Virginia Tech University where thirty-two people were killed and seventeen were injured. In all of these events, semi-automatic weapons were used by the shooters. In a video with Officer Leroy Pyle of the San Jose Police Department, Pyle explains the difference between fully automatic and semi-automatic firearms. The main difference is that automatic firearms will continuously fire rounds with one pull of the trigger while a semi-automatic firearm will only fire one round for each pull of the trigger. This is the same or similar technology that is present in many hunting rifles and shotguns (Pyle). While the United States has always been a country that is “gun-friendly” and a place where people take the Second Amendment very seriously, many advocates of gun control believe that putting some restrictions on the production and sale of semi-automatic firearms will help to reduce and prevent tragedies like the ones that have occurred in recent times. Some of these advocates, such as many leaders of the Democratic Party, think that government regulations on these types of weapons is the answer to solve a large part of the gun violence that occurs in this country.

On the other hand, pro-gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association and much of the Republican Party believe that laws created to prevent the production and sale of semi-automatic weapons is not the solution for preventing tragedies like the ones that have occurred recently. These opponents of stricter gun control think that these problems are more of a mental health issue than anything else. They believe that even with these laws, sick people will still find a way to commit such large acts of violence. Pro-gun groups see the possible ban on semi-automatic weapons as a punishment to law-abiding citizens who own these weapons, and ultimately as an attack on their Second Amendment rights.

Both proponents and opponents of gun control can definitely agree on one thing: something needs to be done about the rise of mass shootings like the ones in Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Newtown. Both sides see these mass killings as the main social problem and therefore it would be called a consensual social problem. The two sides do not agree on what should be done to solve the problem. This is the controversy. The recent tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, is the event that sparked much of this debate. In Newtown, twenty children and six staff members were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary school. All events like this are tragic, but when children are involved, it seems to take on larger significance. Both sides of the debate were deeply affected by this event. In a response to President Barrack Obama’s gun control proposals, Wayne LaPierre, CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, started his address by saying, “Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority” (“Wayne LaPierre Testimony”). He then went on to criticize and disagree with the ideas and changes that President Obama put forth. The NRA is potentially the most important interest group and stakeholder in opposition to President Obama’s proposed gun laws. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic Senator from the State of...
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