Two of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history took place in 2012.
On July 20, a man entered a theater in Aurora, Colo., and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding another 58. Mostly in their 20s—although some were children—the victims had been watching the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, “Dark Knight Rising,” when the gunman appeared in the theater and threw down two gas canisters before shooting into the audience.
Local officials said that the gunman, James Holmes, 24, used an assault rifle, a shotgun, and two Glock pistols, and that he was carrying 6,000 rounds of ammunition. The gunman also wore gear similar to that worn by police SWAT teams, a tactical armored vest, a throat protector, a groin protector, a gas mask, and a ballistic helmet.
On Dec. 14, the Connecticut school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary delivered another shock to the American people and left many deeply pained, as Americans learned that 20 children—ages 6 and 7—were killed, is addition to six teachers and staff.
The suspected shooter, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother before heading to the school that Friday. He also took his own life, bringing the death toll to 28.
With the school death toll at 26, the Newtown shooting was the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University that left 32 people dead.
We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. We must change.
—President Barack Obama
President Obama praised the community of Newtown for its resolve. “As a community, you inspired us,” Obama said. “In the face of unconscionable evil, you cared and loved for one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered.”
The recent shooting has left the country with some tough questions. “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. We must change,” the president said.
The White House has indicated that it would likely support legislation banning assault weapons, namely around 100 different types of semi-automatic weapons in addition to high-volume ammunitions magazines.
Some longtime opponents of gun control have said that they will reexamine pursuing legislative measures in response to the mass shooting.
In its first news conference since the Newtown shooting, the National Rifle Association (NRA) said that schools should have armed police officers to deter the threat of violence.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said Dec. 21, according to the Washington Post. Congress, he said, should act “to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school in this nation.”
LaPierre also focused his attention on the media’s coverage of the Connecticut mass shooting and similar incidents, saying that they are partially to blame for the attack. He also pointed to movies, video games, and music for the rise in America’s violent culture.
In the days prior to the NRA press conference, the association remained relatively silent, issuing only a short statement five days after the attack.
Many pro- and anti-gun petitions have since been posted on the White House’s “We the People” website, and efforts to propose or pass weapons-related legislation are expected to continue into 2013.
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