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In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., voices across nation, and indeed across the globe, have been calling for stricter gun-control laws.
Yet what gun-control measure could have prevented this crime?
The state of Connecticut already has certain gun-control laws in place, at least three of which the shooter broke, as he could have only obtained the weapons through illegal means.
According to news reports, Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother Nancy Lanza dead at their family home before driving to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he gunned down more than two dozen people, 20 of them children, and then killed himself.
The Associated Press reports Lanza brought three guns into the school: a Glock pistol, a Sig Sauer pistol and Bushmaster rifle, which the New York Post further reports was a semi-automatic “assault rifle” chambered for a .223 caliber round, matching casings found at the crime scene.
Lanza, therefore, if you count theft, murder and breaking and entering – since CBS New York now reports it likely Lanza broke into the school through a window to circumvent a locked-door and intercom security system – would have violated a half-dozen laws in his crime, including the following gun-control statutes:
First, Connecticut law requires a person be over 21 to possess a handgun. Lanza was 20.
Second, Connecticut requires a permit to carry a pistol on one’s person, a permit Lanza did not have.
Third, it is unlawful in Connecticut to possess a firearm on public or private elementary or secondary school property, a statute Lanza clearly ignored.
Fourth, with details on the Bushmaster rifle still sketchy, it’s possible Lanza may have violated a Connecticut law banning possession of “assault weapons.”
Of course, these laws were violated because Lanza did not own any of the firearms in question, but rather stole them, and he clearly had no regard for the law in committing his crime.
The Associated Press reports the weapons were registered to Lanza’s first victim, his own mother, according to a law enforcement official not authorized to discuss information with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The facts of the case mark one of the largest quandaries with cries for additional gun control: The guns already exist, and the criminals who have broken laws to use them have also demonstrated they’re willing to break laws to obtain them.
Unless the government somehow mandates and is able to effectively destroy the millions of guns already in circulation, gun-control laws primarily affect the already law-abiding, rather than the criminal element.
Yet legislators have been swift to suggest the answers lie in even more laws.
In Congress, Fox News reports, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a leading gun-control advocate on Capitol Hill, has called for members to address the issue when a new session starts in January.
“I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life,” said Feinstein, who co-sponsored a 1994 bill that resulted in a 10-year ban on many semi-automatic guns classified as “assault weapons.”
“We have been through this too many times,” President Obama agreed. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leading voice for more gun-control legislation pushed the president to do more.
“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough,” said Bloomberg, who leads the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today.”
The New York Times reports at least one Capitol Hill Republican, however, argued tighter control is not the answer.
“That’s one thing I hope doesn’t happen,” New York Rep. Mike Rogers told the Times. “What is the more realistic discussion is how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?”
The New York Daily News reports Lanza was “dark and disturbed, a deeply troubled boy” who suffered from a troubled mental state, perhaps related to Asperger’s syndrome or a form of personality disorder.