Passion Fuels Both Sides of Gun Control Debate

By KBJR News 1

December 17, 2012 Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 7:11 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)-- Both sides of the gun debate are responding with passion to the future of firearm control in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut.

President Barack Obama called for change in the disturbing trend of mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut Sunday.

"These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change."

Leaders of the Northland Chapter of the Brady Campaign say the way to achieve the change President Obama spoke of is through stricter gun control.

"No parent should have to bury their 6-year-old child. That is beyond the pale," said Joan Peterson with the Brady Campaign.

Following the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, many gun control groups are calling for reform including a ban on military style assault weapons and stricter background checks.

"We have private sellers at gun shows that sell guns and they don't require background checks'" said Peterson. "We have internet sales, we have private sales in people's homes. It's very easy to buy a gun without a background check."

Above all, Peterson says the county needs a cultural change.

"We have a gun culture that allows too many people to have access to too many guns."

Not all agree with her.

"To me the gun laws are strict as they already are," said Scott Vanvalkenberg of Fisherman's Corner, a retailer that sells guns.

Polling from Gallup shows that 44% of Americans support for keeping gun laws as they are, compared to 43% of Americans who want to see them tightened.

Retail vendors of firearms say the demand for assault weapons is high.

"Now, guys shoot competition as well as hunting, varmints hunting. I tell you what they are wonderful guns," said Vanvalkenberg.

Gun owners are more likely than ever to own multiple weapons.

However, overall gun ownership is down.

A study from the University of Chicago's national opinion research center shows a drop over the last 40 years, from almost 50% who owned a gun in 1973 to just over 32% today.

The statistics in this report were gathered before the Sandy Hook shootings.

Historically, in the aftermath of mass shootings, Americans have not supported beefing up gun control laws.

Zach Vavricka

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