What They're Saying About Gun Control After the Newtown Shooting
Here's a tally of public figures who've called for a change in the wake of the tragedy. Or not.
After a gunman carried a Glock 9mm pistol, a Sig-Sauer pistol, and a civilian version of the military's M4 carbine into a Connecticut elementary school and conducted one of the worst mass shootings in history, many voices — big and small, elected and unelected, but all loud — reached out across America Friday, insisting that it's not, in fact, too soon to talk about gun control. And as you might expect, most people talking about more of it. But not everyone. Here's a tally of public figures who've called for a change — or not— in the wake of the tragedy. We've included the parts that explicitly or implicitly address gun policy.
President Obama said this at the White House:
We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed in a 1993 mass shooting, told Politico she spoke to White House chief of staff Jack Lew before the election and promised to fight for more gun control. On Friday, she explained:
I said, ‘Jack, I know the president is going through an election and I’m telling you after the election I’m coming out full force... I was just giving the White House a heads up that the gloves are off on my side and I was going to do everything I possibly could. … If that meant embarrassing everybody, that’s what I would do...
I want to talk to the White House. I know that they can’t give me an answer tonight, but I want to know what they’re going to do. I need to know what they’re going to do.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement:
We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. 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. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on his official site:
While we don’t have all the facts and our focus must be on the victims, this is yet another senseless and horrific act of violence involving guns. 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. Let this terrible tragedy finally be the wake-up call for aggressive action and I pledge my full support in that effort.
Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, wrote on his Facebook page:
As we mourn, we must sound a call for our leaders to stand up and do what is right. This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws - and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait.
New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt said:
We can’t just keep saying, ‘Our hearts ache for the victims and their families.’ We have to bring gun violence under control.
Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes said:
I hope and pray that the flood of sympathy and condolences offered to the victims and survivors of this unspeakable crime will ignite the dedication and ingenuity of our nation to end this scourge of violence.
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg:
Americans are sick and tired of these attacks on our children and neighbors and they are sick and tired of nothing being done in Washington to stop the bloodshed. If we do not take action to address gun violence, shooting tragedies like this will continue. As President Obama said, we must act now ‘regardless of the politics.’
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer:
To senselessly lose so many innocent lives breaks your heart... Perhaps an awful tragedy like this will bring us together so we can do what it takes to prevent this horror from being repeated again.
New York Rep. Jerry Nadler said:
If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don’t know when is. How many more Columbines and Newtowns must we live through? I am challenging President Obama, the Congress, and the American public to act on our outrage and, finally, do something about this.
New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey:
Our expressions of sympathy must be matched with concrete actions to stop gun violence.
Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy.
Officials not calling for change:
Ari B. Adler, press secretary for the Michigan state House Republican caucus, said on Facebook that the shooting was not related to the bill passed the night before the shooting that would allow guns in schools:
Regarding the school shooting in Connecticut, our first concern is thinking about the families and the tragedy they have suffered at the hands of a criminal bent on spreading evil.
What happened in Connecticut, however, is not because of nor related in any way to actions taken by the Michigan House yesterday in approving Senate Bill 59.
In response to outreach from media and Michigan citizens, let me provide some background on the bill and why we have caucus members who supported it:
Under the proposed law, Michigan will have the most highly trained concealed carry licensees in the nation. In addition, statistics show that in a mass shooting incident, the average death toll is higher when civilians have to wait for police to arrive. In situations where a citizen with a concealed pistol is involved as a potential victim, the number of deaths is lower on average. Therefore, having well-trained individuals with the freedom to carry a concealed pistol may be considered a public safety asset that could act as a deterrent against such shootings or, if an evil criminal does strike, may prove to serve as protection for innocent bystanders.
It is the belief of many representatives in our caucus that it is criminals who have no intention of following any law that are the perpetrators of such heinous crimes as school shootings. Strict gun-control laws do not stop criminals from committing evil acts, they merely infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens who might be able to take action against evil if given the chance.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said it was not about guns, but about the lack of religious instruction in public schools. The ex-presidential candidate said on Fox News:
We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools... Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?...
We've made it a place where we don't want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability - that we're not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment... If we don't believe that, then we don't fear that.
The National Rifle Association, in a statement:
Until the facts are thoroughly known, NRA will not have any comment.
No matter which side you fall on, it's hard to ignore that this debate is happening, and happening now. A protest Friday outside the White House demanding more gun control started small...
...and grew as the day wore on, with an official protest at 4:30 p.m.: