Tom Harvey (L) and his wife Pat Powers, of Rockville, Maryland, hold a gun control banner in front of the White House, December 15, 2012, in Washington, DC, in the aftermath of the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 dead, including 20 children. The gunman, Adam P. Lanza, 20, killed himself at the scene. UPI/Mike Theiler | License Photo
In the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown, calls for stricter gun laws began coming in.
"Today is not the day," to talk about gun control laws, press secretary Jay Carney said on Friday. But more that 140,000 Americans--and rising--vehemently disagree.
A petition, posted by David G on the "We the People" website on Friday quickly became the most popular petition since the site's 2011 launch.
"Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress," it says. "While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths."
By mid-afternoon Sunday, the petition had gathered more that 120,000 signatures, enough to knock the previous record holder--a request from a Texas man to allow his state to secede from the United States--out of the top spot.
The White House promises a response to any "We the People" petitions to gather 25,000 signatures.
President Obama and several legislators may have already issued a response, however, although not directly to the petition site.
California Sen. Dianne Fienstein announced Sunday she would introduce legislation for an assault weapons ban at the beginning of the new term, and numerous other Congressmen have echoed her sentiments.
Outgoing Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman called for a commission on violence, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he'll push for stricter screening to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
But most critically, President Barack Obama appeared to throw his support behind renewing the assault weapons ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004. In his emotional speech at the vigil Sunday for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, Obama said the country has failed its children and failed to protect them.
"Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?" he asked. "I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change."
If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.
In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama may also be considering a ban on high-capacity magazines, the devices that make it possible for guns to fire 10, 30 or more rounds without reloading. The shooter in Aurora used such a device in his attack that killed 12 people and injured 58 in a matter of moments, and it's believed that the Sandy Hook shooter may have done so as well.
Polls taken since Friday's shooting indicate that public sentiment may be moving back towards support of gun control.
A Huffington Post/YouGov poll found 50 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws, while 43 percent say they should remain the same. Those numbers diverge from the trend found in Gallup's long-time tracking, in which support for more strict laws has fallen from nearly 80 percent in 1991 to 44 percent in 2011.
The full text of the We the People petition is as follows:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.
The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.
Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution's intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.
The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.