Although the Second Amendment has taken a slight bruising after Sandy Hook, unlike other controversial social issues such as gay marriage and drug legalization, which are gradually becoming more accepted by society, gun control is not gaining ground.
There is concern across America that the Sandy Hook mass shooting has given gun control efforts significant – and unwarranted – momentum. Governor John Hickenlooper ofColorado signed new gun control legislation this week, and President Obama is again pushing Congress to pass additional federal gun control laws. Although it is a sad week for Second Amendment supporters inColorado, that state is an outlier. What happened in Newtown was a tragedy, but heightening gun restrictions is not the right response.
Governor Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed into law on Wednesday legislation that expands background checks on gun purchases and limits the sizes of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. Colorado used to be more of a purple state that could go either Democrat or Republican, but in recent years it hasturned into a blue state. It was home to the1999 Columbine school shootingand theAurora movie theater shootingthat killed 12 people last summer. These tragic incidents, combined with Sandy Hook, created an emotional climate to pass gun control legislation.
Contrast Colorado with nearby Arizona. Arizona experienced the tragic, high-profile shooting ofCongresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011. Yet there is no chance any new gun control laws will be passed. In fact, Arizona is nowconsidered the most gun-owner friendly statein the country. The state’s legislature and most top political offices are held byRepublicans, whereas, the reverse is true in Colorado. This is evidence that a high-profile mass shooting is not enough to turn the tide in favor of gun control; the political climate is more determinative.