A little more than a month after Neil Heslin’s little boy was shot and killed along with 19 other first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Heslin sat before a group of Connecticut lawmakers and wondered aloud why any American needed the kind of firepower used in the killings.
“Is there anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question, why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips?” Heslin said. Heslin paused for a moment and looked around the room. “And not one person can answer that question or give me an answer.”
“Our rights will not be infringed!” someone called out. “Second Amendment!” yelled another.
Only weeks had passed since Heslin’s son, Jesse Lewis, 6, and his classmates were gunned down. But already the nation’s collective heartbreak was beginning to spiral into hostility and angry debate over America’s deadly obsession with guns.
After Newtown, there were calls for stricter gun-control measures aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of people like Adam Lanza, the killer.
The pendulum of the gun control debate has swung back and forth. There have been victories and failures for gun-safety groups, whose efforts have been largely supported by President Barack Obama, other Democrats, and a broad movement that formed after Sandy Hook. But there’s also been more bloodshed.