Sandy Hook, Memphis tragedies shift gun debate - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Sandy Hook, Memphis tragedies shift gun debate

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Three days after one of the worst school shootings in American history, the Newtown, Conn., community started the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to 20 first graders and six school administrators from Sandy Hook Elementary.

THe White House said President Barack Obama will be engaging the American people on the issue of gun violence over the next few weeks as he wants a comprehensive solution.

Lawmakers from across the country are also calling for new gun laws.

"If this moment passes into memory without action from Washington, it will be  a stain on our nation's commitment to protecting the innocent including our children," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

This issue is on the forefront in Memphis as well after two police officers were gunned down three days ago while they were serving a drug warrant. Officer Martoiya Lang was shot and killed during a drug raid, while Officer William Vrooman was injured in the leg.

Bluff City leaders say gun violence is a major problem that needs to be addressed.

Mayor Bloomberg and a coalition of mayors, that includes Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, are pushing for a national plan to prevent gun violence. The group is calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
They are urging The President and Congress to move these issues to the top of the agenda.

After Officer Lang was killed in the line of duty, Mayor Wharton said the city needs to address gun violence. He said he will be redoubling his efforts to get guns of the city's streets.

"I dare anybody to come up and say, well the Second Amendment right," he said. "Nobody has a Second Amendment right to load up and kill a police officer."

Officer Lang was shot with a 9mm handgun with a high-capacity magazine. City police say it's a common gun on the streets of Memphis. After Friday's fatal shooting Police Director Toney Armstrong said gun violence is an issue that needs to be addressed.

"It's a problem, it's a problem," Director Armstrong said. "I mean we glaze over it and we can try to politicize it and say that it's not a problem. But at the end of the day if there's no weapon for that suspect to arm himself with, my officer is still alive today."

City officials say Mr. Wharton will be releasing more details on his plans to fight gun violence later this week.

The question still remains. Are assault weapons and high-capacity magazines too easy for the public to get their hands on?

Depending on who you talk to in the Mid-South, assault weapons are extremely common in the region, and they are selling extremely well in gun shops.
One of the assault rifles the killer used in the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary was a Bushmaster AR-15, The gun had a 30-round magazine and was loaded with .223 ammo, all of which are common in Mid-South gun stores.

"I think the government or president or somebody needs to do something about these assault weapons so people can't get their hands on them and destroy our young children," said Robert Lee Matthews of Olive Branch, Miss.

But truth be told, since the Sandy Hook killings, the sales of AR-15s in the Mid-South have skyrocketed because of a fear of a ban. Gun stores are experiencing record sales of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and ammo.

"We have probably sold 20 times more than we usually do, we can't replace what we are selling," said Daniel Brown, owner of the Double Barrel Guns and accessories shop in Olive Branch.

Some Second Amendment advocates say we as a people have a right to own assault weapons and to be almost as well armed as our government.

"Our forefathers knew this, and saw what government interference would do, and what would happen if we lose our guns," Brown said. "Nazi, Germany, that's how Hitler did it when he got started."

There is an argument even among gun owners as to where the limits are, and  not high-capacity magazines and assault weapons are covered under the Second Amendment.

"Why do we need this? We are dying every day, said Chris Benson of Olive Branch. "Just like in Memphis, an officer got killed serving a drug warrant. It doesn't make sense. You have a right to protect yourself, you have a right to own a gun, but why an assault weapon? It doesn't make sense."

Some Second Amendment supporters say new laws won't make a bit of difference and argue that if gun laws stopped shootings, the murders in Sandy Hook would have never happened.

"You look at where it happens, and they have strict gun controls and you look here in The South, where there really is no gun control and everyone has one, and not a lot of shootings happen," Brown said.
"There is nothing wrong with protecting yourself," Benson disagreed. "But you need an assault weapon to protect yourself? You are not fighting a war inside your own house."

A North Mississippi gun store owner told FOX13 News he has sold on average at least seven AR-15s a day since Friday's massacre in Newtown, saying his store has been having record sales because of the fear of an assault rifle ban.

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