Gun control: The USA has a longstanding history of a gun culture

Aurora shooting and Sikh temple shooting happened in less than three weeks.

Questions:

Would you expect some debate on the gun control? Should America have this debate or would you say there is no link between the gun laws and recent and past cases of shooting?

Answers:

Ryan King, Associate Professor of Sociology, University at Albany, SUNY

I think we will see some political debate, but it will be minimal and short-lived.  The Republicans will be against any gun control measure, and since they control the House of Representatives it is foregone that no large scale gun control law will get through that chamber.  The Democrats are not eager to have this debate in an election year because most independent voters are skeptical of gun control measures.  In short, there will certainly be some discussion, but I don’t foresee any serious changes in our laws.

You also asked about the link between gun laws and the recent shootings. It is impossible to answer this with any certainty.  I would, however, add the following.  At this point in time there are more firearms than adults in the United States.  As such, any incremental change in gun laws will unlikely affect future shootings of this nature.  There are simply too many guns and they are easy to get, either legally or through the black market, and ammunition is even easier to come by. I don’t think any change in U.S. law (within the bounds of our Constitution) would have much of an impact one way or the other.

Mathieu DeflemProfessor, Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, Author of the book  The Policing of Terrorism

There already is a renewed debate on gun control in the United States since the shooting in Colorado and, indeed, I’m sure that the most recent shooting will accelerate this debate again. However, the gun control debate has been going on for many years now and it has not brought about much concretely. In fact, in most recent years the popular debate for gun control has decreased, so there are now fewer people interested in having tighter gun laws. This is due to the fact that such laws are seen as restrictions on the rights of all citizens to have a gun, rather than a measure against criminals. The relation between gun laws and crime is unclear, with several diverging opinions. More important is the fact that the USA has a longstanding history of a gun culture. No law can change that.

James Nolan, Associate Professor, Division of Sociology and Anthropology, West Virginia University

Yes, Americans should have a debate/dialogue about gun control.  It is very difficult to do this because there are well organized and well-funded lobbying groups in the U. S. such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) which aim at protecting citizen rights to “keep and bear arms.”   If a political figure, such as a legislator or governor, broaches the topic of gun control, the NRA will label the person “anti-gun” and launche an aggressive campaign against him or her.

The position of the NRA and its supporters is that “good people” should be able to protect themselves with guns against “bad people.”  By promoting this inaccurate and grossly simplified view of reality, the NRA is effective in limiting the national debate about gun control and making the United States a very dangerous plac

J. M. BergerInvestigative Journalist, Specialist on Homegrown Extremism, Author of Jihad Joe

The issue of gun control is very divisive and controversial in the United States, and with the presidential election in full swing, most politicians have been very reluctant to open that debate. However, this second shooting, just weeks after Aurora, may very well change that dynamic. Regarding the second part of your question, I am always in favor of reasonable conversations about national issues, but it can be hard to find reasonable people in politics, especially around election time. Gun control is a particularly difficult and complicated issue, which goes back to our founding principles. Unfortunately, our national debate about guns tends to be of a very low quality, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Stephen SloanLawrence J. Chastang Distinguished Professor of Terrorism  Studies, University of Central Florida

The debate has been going on for quite a while. Given that it is politically charged in an election year coupled with the tragedies it will be intensified. As of now while both candidates have clearly stated they they abhor the act, neither  has come out forthrightly at this time for gun control. Besides  from the issue being both politically and emotionally charged  the power of lobby groups, particularly the National Rifle  Association cannot be ignored given their financial power and ability to mobilize supporter in support of anti-gun control candidates.

James Jacobs, Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts, Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice, New York University, Author of the Book: Can Gun Control Work?

There is very little for us to debate. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The Court approved traditional limitations, e.g. it is illegal for a person who has ever been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. There are 300 million firearms in civilian hands in the U.S.. There is also a black market that provides firearms to criminals who are ineligible to purchase firearms on the legal market.

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