The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is one of the deadliest school shootings in American history, along with Virginia Tech shooting and Stoneman Douglas High School shootings. This paper aims at providing an overview of the tragic case, addressing the events leading to the incident, and discussing legal considerations associated with the shooting. The report will analyze the causes and outcomes of the shooting and draw a conclusion from the findings.
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The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. The murder was 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who had also killed his mother earlier that day. The young man used two semiautomatic pistols, the AR-15, and a shotgun to kill 20 children, six adults, and, later, himself; moreover, he injured two other staff members (Ray, 2018). The shooting happened around 9:30 AM, and law enforcement personnel arrived within minutes; however, the murderer was already dead. The events leading to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are unclear, as there are many opinions on why Lanza decided to engage in such an action. However, the article by Engel (2014) presents the information about the shooter’s mental health issues and states that he had Asperger’s Syndrome. Notably, Lanza was not open to therapy and did not respond well to medication, which means that the symptoms of his disorders were not treated or controlled properly (Engel, 2014). Thus, it is possible to say that the major cause of the event is Lanza’s mental health state; however, it is unclear why Sandy Hook Elementary School was his target.
It is clear that the event could have affected more students if the measures of mitigation had not been implemented before it. For instance, it is evident that teachers knew how to protect children’s lives, as some of them told their class to hide in the closets (Ray, 2018). Moreover, one of the teachers, Victoria Soto, told Lanza that children were not in the class, trying to distract his attention from them. Moreover, the police were notified about the shooting seconds after Lanza entered the building, which also shows that the facility was prepared for this kind of emergency situations (Ray, 2018). However, unfortunately, mitigation strategies and the preparedness of schools to possible massacres may not be enough to prevent similar events in the future.
There are several possible legal considerations associated with the shooting. For instance, the event was catalytic for the debates about gun control in the U.S. Both at the time of the event, and now, the public opinion on gun control has been in favor of stricter policies (Benton, Hancock, Coppersmith, Ayers, & Dredze, 2016). Currently, all individuals have the right to carry and keep arms according to the Second Amendment. The information about the shooting reveals that the guns the murderer used were purchased by his mother legally (Ray, 2018). Thus, from the perspective of laws, the murderer had the right to bear arms. It can be considered a problematic issue because Lanza, like other shooters, had free access to the weapons he used to kill his victims.
Notably, the shooting resulted in changes in gun policies, especially on the state level. For instance, after the event, four states added background checks for firearm sales, and seven states expanded check laws they had had before the shooting (Keneally, 2017). Moreover, within five years from the event, 210 laws were enacted to strengthen gun safety, which meant that, in 2017, around half of Americans lived in the states that had expanded check laws. However, the changes to legislation have not been implemented on the national level. It means that, currently, educational facilities are not fully protected against shootings and other similar events. Moreover, it is possible to conclude that even the background check could not have prevented Lanza from having access to the weapons. The reason for it is that the firearms were bought by his mother; there is no evidence of her having mental health issues or other conditions that would stop her from purchasing the items.
The analysis presented above shows that the implementation of background check measures may not be enough to minimize the number of shootings in the U.S. It is evident that the inclusion of stricter gun control measures would be more significant for preventing mass shootings from happening. As mentioned above, the public opinion relates to this viewpoint, as the majority of individuals in the U.S. agree that the current gun policies are concerning (Benton et al., 2016). Thus, it is vital to continue working towards prohibiting carrying and keeping firearms on the national level.
Another legal issue associated with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is that some companies selling weaponry may have used an incorrect approach to the promotion of their products. For instance, one of the manufacturers of the firearms Lanza used was sued for inappropriate marketing strategies after the event. The family of one of the victims alleged Bushmaster Firearms of promoting the illegal and offensive use of weapons, including those used in the massacre (Langer & Freiman, 2019). It is unclear whether the shooter was inspired by the advertisements the company published, but it is possible to say that the promotion of firearm use in commercial purposes should be banned. Manufacturers may develop their marketing strategies with the purpose of motivating more individuals to purchase their products without considering the possible adverse effect their advertisement may have. People, especially those prone to violent behavior, may get inspiration from manufacturers’ messages, which may result in severe consequences. Thus, it is vital to develop legislation aimed at stopping companies from promoting the firearms they produce to the general public.
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The case of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012 reveals the existing problems in American legislation related to gun control issues. During the event, the 20-year-old shooter had free access to firearms and a right to carry them; moreover, the weapons had been purchased legally. The massacre reveals that the measures the school had implemented to mitigate the adverse effects of such events were useful, as they allowed for saving many lives. Teachers knew how to act in case of emergency, and the police were notified about the shooting immediately. However, it is possible to say that the existing measures are not enough to prevent mass shootings in the future. The U.S. government should implement laws on the national level, which would make background checks for firearm sales obligatory in all states. Moreover, the discussions on making the gun control measures stricter should continue to minimize the number of events similar to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Benton, A., Hancock, B., Coppersmith, G., Ayers, J. W., & Dredze, M. (2016). After Sandy Hook Elementary: A year in the gun control debate on Twitter. Web.
Engel, P. (2014). Why extensive mental health treatment didn’t stop Adam Lanza. Web.
Keneally, M. (2017). How gun laws have changed in the 5 years since Sandy Hook. Web.
Langer, R. M. & Freiman, J. M. (2019). Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International, et al. expands scope of CUTPA. Web.
Ray, M. (2018). Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.