The Second Amendment of the US constitution offers citizens the right to bear arms for many purposes including self-defense. This is one issue which has raised the ire of citizens across the country especially in Connecticut, after the Newtown massacre. As part of the 2016 election platform, many Democratic nominees are speaking up about the gun violence and mass shootings.
Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has become very vocal after yet another shooting during Mass at an African American Church in South Carolina. She calls for stricter gun laws and it is a recurring theme in every stump speech. Even though it is a controversial issue, I think it is very irresponsible not to talk about it, she said.
Even President Obama finds it frustrating that he hasn’t been able to persuade Congress to pass gun laws after multiple shooting incidents in different states. He has had to hold many press conferences and hopes that this kind of mass violence can be put to an end. An interesting twist is that more Americans now support gun rights and fewer people want gun control. Advocates supporting gun rights have had a lot of success in blocking mandatory background checks in every state’s legislature.
Many people don’t realize that in the 3 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 70 of 109 laws on the books in Connecticut have loosened restrictions. According to safety groups, there is huge support for specific goals. According to NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, broad support in favor of background checks and opposition to groups like the NRA is very organized in this election cycle as compared to the time when President Clinton was running for president.
There is no doubt that high profile shootings are forcing candidates to talk about the issue of gun violence. Strong rhetoric from Hillary Clinton and financial support from Michael Bloomberg doesn’t seem to worry advocacy groups in the least. The Executive Director of the group, Gun Owners of America reminded people that even President Bill Clinton had to admit that coming down hard on gun rights is a perilous political issue. According to him, Hillary Clinton is very ideological and seems oblivious to all the politics surrounding guns and gun control. She may be making the same mistake as her husband.
What Republicans Think
Republican candidates maintain their stand and vehemently argue that if more people had guns as permitted by law, mass shootings can be prevented. Ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry was opposed to gun free zones. He suggested that a trained and licensed citizen with guns could have prevented the shooting at a movie theater in Louisiana. Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas contented that not all shooting victims are interested in getting stricter gun laws put in place. Also, he suggests setting stricter laws to deadly ammunition and other accessories like red dot and holographic optics that make every gun significantly more dangerous.
Presidential candidates have tried to use this issue to try and connect with voters and cement their position on certain issues. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said that he thought the South Carolina shooting was an attack on religious freedom. Unfortunately, according to statistics of U.S.A state politics, the number of days between mass shootings has dropped drastically to 99 days in the decade 2005 to 2015. There are not many days left until Election Day and people really don’t want to think about where a mass shooting might happen next.