It seems unlikely that the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado will spark a significant cry for gun law reform. In the past, Democrats have taken a strong stance on firearm control and often felt the repercussions at the next election. Speculation on firearm reform made headlines after the national attention to the shootings last week. President Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney released the following statement in a briefing on Sunday. "I would say that the president's views on this are as he has stated and as he spelled out in the op-ed that was published in an Arizona newspaper," said Carney, "which is that he believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons."
Pro gun owners advocate restrictions on legally purchased firearms only put restrictions on law-abiding citizens. The President has stated the government needs to work under existing law. In the 1997 Survey of State Prison Inmates, among those possessing a firearm, the source was from:
- a flea market or gun show for fewer than 2 percent
- a retail store or pawn shop for about 12 percent
- family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source for 80 percent
After 1996, less than 10 percent of nonfatal violent crimes involved firearms. Only 2 percent of prison inmates used a military-style semiautomatic gun.
The FBI states "Offenders armed with handguns committed one in every eight violent crimesÂ—rape, robbery and assault-measured by BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey. The other violent crime victims were attacked or threatened by offenders who were either unarmed or were armed with such weapons as rocks, sticks, knives or other types of firearms. The most common violent crime, simple assault, by definition does not involve the use of a weapon."
If an individual intends to inflict damage on a mass level any means available is chosen. If an assault rifle is not available, then explosive or other vehicle would be chosen. This is an election year and firearm reform has not fared well the past 20 years. The renewed debate over the expired assault weapon ban and firearm reform will likely fade.