JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Police are saying Adam Lanza was carrying hundreds of rounds of deadly ammunition -- enough to kill just about every student inside Sandy Hook Elementary School if he'd had enough time. In the wake of the tragedy, some lawmakers are now on a mission.
"No single law, no set of laws, can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can't be an excuse for inaction," said President Barack Obama.
The President made it clear Sunday night in Newtown, Conn., that the nation must do more. Some are already taking action. A California senator is introducing new legislation to limit the number of bullets per gun clip. But what about our local leaders? Action News reached out to every local legislator in our region to ask whether they think gun control is necessary.
"I think putting that on the table and having an honest debate I don't see a downside to it. If we can keep from finger pointing and name calling about it, it will probably be a healthy discussion," Representative Jack Kingston told Action News via phone.
According to a spokesperson for Senator Bill Nelson, "Senator Nelson is a hunter and supporter of the Second Amendment. But he's voted to ban weapons like AK-47's because he believes they're meant for killing, not for hunting."
Congressman Ander Crenshaw tells Action News, "I fully expect that the policies and laws around gun control will and should be part of the national conversation that follows."
We received this statement, in part, from Representative Cliff Stearns, "Legislation alone will not stop these tragedies; we also need to identify those individuals who are mentally ill and help them with psychological support."
And Senator Marco Rubio's spokesman tells us, "The challenge with gun laws is that by definition criminals do not follow the law." He added, "Nevertheless, he supports a serious and comprehensive study of our laws to find new and better ways to prevent any more mass shootings."
Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said "First and foremost, I send my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the school shooting in Newtown. This terrible tragedy and the other similar mass shootings in recent years should cause us to pause and take stock. After 9/11, we came together to see what we could do to prevent another attack. The work of the 9/11 Commission made flying safer and has helped us prevent another hijacking of a U.S. plane by terrorists. We should evaluate in a thoughtful process gun safety, mental health, school security and all other components that contributed to this horrendous act of violence."
We also reached out to Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss as well as Representatives Corrine Brown and John Mica. Our requests for statements went unreturned.
Statement from Rep. Corrine Brown
"My heart and prayers go out to the victims and families of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Certainly, words cannot console the people directly affected by this tragedy, but they should know that we stand with them in their unimaginable grief."
The level of gun violence in our nation has reached a level that is simply unacceptable. Over the last few years we have witnessed Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, the Sikh Temple shootings in Wisconsin, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, and now Newtown. There is also unabated gun violence on the streets in every American city, whether that is in Jacksonville or Miami, Chicago or New York. Every year in fact, an average of nearly 100,000 people in America are shot and killed with a firearm.
In response to this endless spiral of violence, our nation needs to commit itself to review and strengthen our national gun laws, as well as focus on the importance of mental support services. In the past, both in 1994, and in 2004, I voted to close gun show loopholes and to ban assault weapons, and I will certainly vote in favor of any future legislation that comes to the floor of the House of Representatives. Assault weapons are designed to be used in times of war by members of our nation's armed forces; not against young children in our schools, or in movie theaters or our streets or shopping malls. This is not to say that all guns need to be banned entirely or that hunters should be disallowed to practice the sport of hunting. However, continued legalization of these high caliber weapons will only lead to future tragedies. Moreover, crimes committed with these types of assault weapons put our law enforcement officers and First Responders in grave danger, since even the officers themselves are often times overpowered.
Amidst all of the violence and hatred, our nation desperately needs to stop for a moment of inward spiritual reflection. In the Bible (Hebrews 16:19/Psalms 39:7), the Lord says 'We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…(and) it leads up through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary.' The people and leaders of this great nation need to embrace this 'inner sanctuary,' the moral compass one finds when one comes to know God...the compass which has guided His people for centuries, and blesses everyone around the globe who is open to God's eternal love."