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Published on December 15th, 2012 | by AZHG

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The Newtown Tragedy and Gun Laws in Arizona

At the aftermath of the inexplicably tragic Newtown, Connecticut shooting, along with 19 mass shootings in the last 5 years, many questions are being asked and debated: Why do so many people have an arsenal of guns in their homes? Why is there so much violence in American movies? Can public funds be allocated towards targeting and disarming people who seem to have mental health risks without violating individual rights?

These are tough questions for America and challenge early foundations that declared “the right to bear arms.”

The National Rifle Association goes to great lengths (and spends a huge sum of money) to defend the right to bear arms. It is opposed to virtually every form of gun control, including restrictions on owning assault weapons, background checks for gun owners, and registration of firearms. According to OpenSecrets.org, $2,205,000 was spent by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying efforts in 2012. The total of contributions to candidates from National Rifle Assn PACs is 27 times larger than contributions from individuals. View federal candidates who received NRA contributions.

On Twitter, some pro-gun groups urged people to buy guns following the Newtown tragedy. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted “more guns, less mass shootings” in the wake of the event. For those who deplore violence, it is shameful and unconscionable that parents teach their children to shoot guns and do not restrict exposure to violence in the home. Many who are against gun violence feel that Hollywood directors and actors who participate in the spread of violence in America through violent movies and television programs should be held accountable.

Why? Why defend guns? For those who do not have guns, have never owned a gun, or who have never shot a gun, it is incomprehensible why there are so many privately-owned guns in America. Fear, self defense, personal and family protection, enjoyment, the god-given rights to own one, and defiance against government restrictions are some of the reasons cited for owning guns. Yet in other countries, such as Japan, these motivations simply do not exist.

In a Jul 23 2012 article in The Atlantic Magazine, A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths Max Fisher reports that by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides a year. Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed.

John Howard, prime minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007, and was one of George W. Bush’s closest allies, backed the Iraq intervention, and took a hard line against increased immigration and union organizing in Australia. But one of Howard’s other lasting legacies is Australia’s gun control regime, first passed in 1996 in response to a massacre in Tasmania that left 35 dead. The law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons. Such a buyback isn’t in the cards in the U.S. anytime soon — an equivalent buyback here would entail the destruction of more than 40 million guns, and with the largest gun purchase in history during Thanksgiving of 2012, the number of privately-owned guns rose sharply.

The Huffington Post reports that the FBI recorded more than 16.8 million background checks for gun purchases in 2012, the highest number since the FBI began publishing the data in 1998. A record number of requests for background checks for gun buyers went through on Black Friday in November, the FBI reported at the time, in part because of fears that President Barack Obama and other lawmakers would tighten gun control laws. Unlike other US business, gun industry-related jobs grew by more than 30 percent between 2008 and 2011, according to NSSF data cited by Forbes.

Posted in Parenting Magazine last February, 2012, a father of four in Canada was arrested and strip searched after his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in her kindergarten class. Apparently, after his young daughter drew a picture of her daddy holding a gun to fight off bad guys and monsters, the teacher became concerned and the school administrators called Family and Children’s Services, who then called the police. Should America follow the Canadian example and be more vigilant by encouraging reports by people at work and in public places that will require more police investigations of suspicious activities in the schools and public places?

Is it time to repeal the U.S.the second amendment’s affirmation of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms?” The American “right to bear arms” was developed at the time of the Revolution. It grew out of the duty imposed on the early colonists to keep arms for the defense of their isolated and endangered communities. Is this law still applicable for the American public in 2012?

Should Americans have the right to bear arms even if it means that it can result in the shooting small children and teachers at schools, students in college, or innocent people at a markets, shopping malls or movie theaters? Would gun restrictions actually curb violence in America? How can rampant mental health problems be addressed in our society? Why is there a greater incidence of disconnection and violent crimes in our society now than 30 years ago? How and who do you notify if you feel someone exhibits symptoms that indicate serious mental health problems that could lead to violent acts?

We as individuals, parents, school administrators, public officials and lawmakers have a responsibility to delve into these questions in order to increase safety in homes and public places.

Click here for the Fema Resources for Active Shooter Response

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