Saturday, December 05, 2015

San Bernardino and Gun Control Policy

The FBI is now investigating the San Bernardino massacre “as an act of terrorism”.  The attacks on Wednesday claimed fourteen lives and wounded twenty-one.  FBI director James Comey said perpetrators Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik appear to have been radicalized.  Authorities have found more than 4,500 rounds of ammunition, twelve pipe bomb-type devices, and other tools capable of making bombs with in the couple’s home.  Farook and Malik were carrying more than 1,400 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition and more than 200 9mm rounds while fleeing the scene.  This has reignited the gun control debate, which is permeating national security concerns since the attacks are being considered an act of terrorism.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing – again.”  This is a popular sentiment in public opinion on the gun control debate.  As of October 2015, 55-percent of Americans believe currentlaws on gun sales should be stricter.  Shootings in recent history – such as Sandy Hook – have caused slight upticks in public opinion favoring stricter gun sales laws.  However, the general trend of public opinion has stayed consistent in the last fifteen years as people have clear-cut views on the topic.

Laws Covering the Sale of Firearms -- Americans' Preferences Since 2000

On the other hand, only 27-percent of people believe that handguns should be limited to police possession.  This has changed drastically since 1959, when 60-percent thought handguns shouldn’t be legal for ordinary citizens to carry. 

Support for Ban on Possession of Handguns, 1959-2015

These statistics show that American citizens generally believe that protecting the second amendment is important but some form of stricter gun sales law should be implemented.  The attacks in San Bernardino have already stimulated the controversial gun control debate. President Obama was quick to politicize the attacks in favor of increased gun control, which met backlash from the other side of the aisle, as expected.  It is clear a line is being toed in regards to gun control.  People want the ability to protect themselves but also want to limit the threat of excess guns in society.  Gun control is an increasing national security concern due to potential for terrorist activity on American soil.

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