Another mass shooting is fueling another debate about the nation's patchwork of gun laws. But this time, new and prominent faces are calling for the stricter gun measures.
That includes Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, a Democrat, whose state is reeling from the shocking assault on an elementary school in Newtown that left a total of 27 people dead — 20 of them children.
Speaking to Candy Crowley on CNN's “State of the Union” Sunday (December 16), Malloy suggested Congress should have never let the 1994 ban on military-style assault weapons expire, as it did in 2004. The ban included several semi-automatic models of pistols, rifles and shotguns, quick-firing weapons used by gunmen in recent mass killings, including the one in Newtown.
“These are assault weapons. You don't hunt deer with these things,” Malloy said. “One can only hope we'll find a way to limit these weapons that really only have one purpose.”
Other recent shootings have done little to spur change to gun laws across the nation, as Stateline has reported. In fact, state lawmakers have largely sought to scale back restrictions, most recently in Michigan and Ohio.
Just days before the latest tragedy, the Michigan legislature has sent a bill to Republican Governor Rick Snyder that would allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons into what is currently known as “no carry zones,” areas that include schools, child care centers, bars and places of worship. Snyder has not said whether he will sign it.
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich, a Republican, is likely to sign legislation that would allow guns to be brought into parking garages under the statehouse.
But Malloy isn't the only governor now calling for gun laws to be tightened. John Hickenlooper, Colorado's Democratic governor, spoke out last week, saying “the time is right” to ask questions such as “do we all need assault weapons?”
“When you look at what happened in Aurora, a great deal of that damage was from the large magazine on the AR-15 (rifle),” he told the Associated Press Wednesday. I think we need to have that discussion and say, “'Where is this appropriate?'”
Those comments came two days before the Connecticut massacre, but followed a mass shooting at an Oregon shopping mall and the high-profile murder suicide allegedly carried out by former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Hickenlooper's comments were markedly different from those he made shortly after the shooting that left 12 dead an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last July.
“I worry that if we got rid all of the guns, and certainly we have so many guns in this country…[the shooter] would have found explosives, he would have found something else, some sort of poisonous gas, he would have done something to create this horror,” he said at the time.
Governors Andrew Cuomo, of New York, and Pat Quinn, of Illinois — both of whom have been outspoken on the issue of gun control — also called for tightened laws.
“We as a society must unify and once and for all crack down on the guns that have cost the lives of far too many innocent Americans,” said Cuomo. “Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort.”
“As governor and as a parent, I intend to spearhead passage of strict laws that will protect our children and the people of Illinois from gun violence,” Quinn said. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court struck down a law that had made Illinois the only state to ban the carrying of concealed weapons.
President Obama on Friday called for “meaningful action” on gun control, though it was not clear what he meant.
The National Rifle Association, which has had an outsized influence on the debate, helping to lead a national shift towards looser gun restrictions, has largely been quiet in the shooting's wake. It declined to comment “until the facts are thoroughly known,” according to a press release. The group's Twitter account has not been updated since shortly before the shooting.