WASHINGTON: Pro-gun groups are asserting that restricting firearms may not stop future massacres similar to the one that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, last Friday.
The Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms are both calling for the creation of a national commission to study the causes of violence and offer preventative measures.
“There is a lot more going on when a horrible crime like the one in Newtown, CT, occurs than just firearms,” said Dave Workman, director of communications at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “When a crime like a mass shooting happens, you tend to find the perpetrators have a background of mental troubles and many have refused treatment.”
This assertion comes as some media reports say Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter, was in the process of having her son committed to a psychiatric facility when he went on the mass shooting spree.
Making sure mental health is being discussed as people look for solutions to avoiding future shootings is imperative, even as the talk in Washington has turned to gun control, Workman said.
“It's a mirage when there are many other issues related to violence in America that seriously need to be discussed,” he said.
The commission would also look at violent video games, TV shows and films, and media reports that sensationalize violence.
The National Rifle Association has yet to be invited to work on the creation of the commission. While all three groups have worked together successfully in the past, reports that the NRA was not returning calls made the two other organizations decide not to reach out, Workman added.
The NRA, meanwhile, may make a similar recommendation this Friday during a press conference. In a statement posted on its website, the group said it is “prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
A representative from the NRA did not respond to requests for comment on the work being done by other pro-gun groups.
This week, retail chain Dick's Sporting Goods suspended sale of semi-automatic weapons, and Walmart pulled a Bushmaster rifle that is in the same group of guns as the one reportedly used by Lanza from its web store.
Laura Burgess, who founded a marketing and PR firm that bears her name, said that move will likely “confuse customers.” Her firm represents manufacturers of firearms and firearm accessories.
She questions whether further restricting access to firearms, via legislation or stores halting their sales, will actually stop other crimes of this nature from happening since consumers must undergo background checks to legally gain access to firearms in the first place.
“But if you've been seeing a [psychiatrist] or having some issues, there is no way to know that,” Burgess said. Also, “[Lanza] stole his mother's gun.”
Organizations like United Way and various psychology trade groups have also focused their messaging on the need for stronger mental health offerings in the US in the week after the Newtown shooting.