The 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, during which nearly 30 people were fatally shot, seemed to be the turning point for national gun control advocacy and policy. The three years since have proved that this is not the case. States are enthusiastically embracing the NRA’s maxim that only more “good guys with guns” can stop mass shootings.
In Kansas, a license is no longer necessary to carry a concealed weapon. According to recent reports by the Crime Prevention Research Center, in states where you still need a concealed-carry handgun permit, the number of permits tripled from 4.7 million to 12.8 million over the last 7 years. Georgia and Arkansas allow concealed weapons in bars and churches. Dozens of state laws have made it easier to obtain and carry guns, sometimes even without a license or training.
This rise of the “good guys with guns” mentally has proven worrisome to gun-control advocates. Some gun-control supporters say that their movement has been emboldened by the growing influence of Everytown for Gun Safety (a gun-control group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) in some state capitols.
The debate over gun rights in the states began in 2013 after Congress rejected a bill that would have expanded background checks to all gun sales. The argument is expected to intensify during the upcoming year, following the string of 2015 shooting massacres. These include the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, the office holiday party shooting in San Bernardino, California, the community college shooting in Oregon, and Dylan Roof’s shooting rampage at a South Carolina church.
Public opinion seems to mirror the NRA on the importance of “good guys with guns.” On the day after Thanksgiving, U.S. gun sales hit a terrifying record. More than 185,000 federal background checks were initiated, which is the most in the program’s entire history, according to FBI data.
Mike Conway, a salesman at Bullseye Sport near San Bernardino, which is almost out of guns, said that he has seen:
“A lot of first-time buyers. A lot of people that realize that they have to be responsible for their own safety.”
Since Sandy Hook, only six states have expanded background checks.
Featured image via Flickr