Gun Control Headed to the Supreme Court in The Wake of Sandy Hook Shooting

While some Americans call for a conversation on gun control, and others insist that the weapons used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting had nothing to do with the violence in Newtown, Connecticut, a gun control case is already on its way to the Supreme Court.

Just a few days before the deadly shooting in Newtown, an appellate court in Illinois struck down a statewide ban on concealed weapons. The ruling is at odds with other federal court rulings, which have generally upheld state laws, including restrictions.

The 2008 case, District of Columbia v. Heller, concluded that people have the right to have a gun to protect their homes, but neglected to touch on the issue of guns in public. 

"Legal scholars say the competing appellate rulings mean that day is drawing near for a new high court case on gun rights,” reported the Associated Press. They also quoted a UCLA law professor, Adam Winkler, as saying that the Heller case left it inevitable that the Supreme Court would have to address "whether there is a right to carry guns in public."

If the competing rulings and lingering questions were already enough to send the question of concealed carry permits to the Supreme Court, the publicity around the shooting at Sandy Hook should surely be the extra push needed.

The issue of gun control is already an extremely volatile one, with passionate arguments on either side. Reconciliation seems impossible between one side's insistence on their right to arm themselves and the other's conviction that fewer guns would mean less violence. But now the topic has moved to center stage. 

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that she plans to introduce an assault weapons ban bill on the first day of the new Congress. 

"I'm going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House — a bill to ban assault weapons," Feinstein said on NBC's Meet the Press.

Feinstein is one of many Democrats that have unsuccessfully called for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban signed by President Clinton that expired in 2004. There hasn't been much progress on gun control in years, but with the recent increase in mass shooting, advocates of restriction have the extra motivation and attention they need to make a real push. 

"It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively," she said. "The purpose of this bill ... is to get weapons of war off the streets."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also been very vocal about the need for immediate action on gun control, questioning whether the eloquence of Obama's promise of "meaningful action" was going to be backed with any real steps.

It's clear that this conversation is going to be had in earnest now, and hopefully people won't forget the outrage and sadness of the last few days. 

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Lilly O'Donnell

Lilly O'Donnell is a freelance writer, currently working on her first book.

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