What should all gun control advocates understand

Pros and cons of gun law

Six weeks after the massacre at a Newton elementary school with twenty children killed, the US Congress is addressing the call for stricter gun laws in the US for the first time. Supporters and opponents of stricter gun laws appeared together for the first time before the Senate. President Barack Obama's Democratic Bill banning semi-automatic weapons is being discussed there.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, seriously injured in an assassination, told her former colleagues before the Senate committee: "Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying." She called on Congress to act. "We have to do something. It will be difficult, but now is the time," said the former Democratic MP, who was still struggling to express herself. Giffords was shot in the head by a young man at close range while visiting her constituency in the state of Arizona in January 2011. The politician survived seriously injured. Six people died in the attack, including a nine-year-old girl.

NRA rejects tightening

The vice-head of the influential gun lobby organization NRA, Wayne LaPierre, countered that one had to apply existing laws to check gun buyers instead of introducing new laws. Law-abiding gun owners would not blame violent or insane criminals.

"We also do not believe that the government should dictate what weapons we can legally own and use to protect our families," LaPierre said in Washington.

The round, with around two dozen participants, also discussed measures from the package against gun violence presented by Obama. While a mandatory check of every gun buyer for previous psychological illnesses achieved approval, some conservative representatives rejected a maximum number of cartridges for gun magazines or even a general ban on semi-automatic assault rifles.

300 million weapons in private hands

"One bullet in the hand of the insane is too many - six bullets in the hand of a mother trying to protect her nine-year-old children might be too few," argued Republican Chuck Grassley.

In the United States, the cinema attack in Aurora with twelve dead and the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown sparked a heated debate over stricter gun rights. The constitution guarantees the right to own weapons. It is estimated that around 300 million weapons are privately owned in the United States.

Approximately 11,000 people are victims of gun violence each year in the United States.

re / wl (afp, dpa, rtr)