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Conn. Shooting Sparks Gun Control Debate in Mass.

The mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut is sparking more conversation about public safety, treatment of mental illness, and gun control, and the argument remains how state and federal will governments approach the issue.

John Rosenthal is Founder and Chairman of Newton, Massachusetts-based Stop Handgun Violence. He says that the common thread between the crimes in Newtown and others in recent history remains unregulated access to weapons.

But Jim Wallace, Executive Director of the Gun Owner’s Action League, Massachusetts’s firearms association, disagrees.

John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence said that mental illness is not something that can be changed, but gun policy can. And that would take action in Congress.

Massachusetts has some of the strictest firearms laws in the nation, and has a permanent ban on classified assault weapons. But Jim Wallace of GOAL says that since the Gun Control Act of 1998, the stricter regulations on obtaining weapons in the Commonwealth has not reduced crimes.

Wallace also says that the term “high-powered assault weapon” is often misused by politicians and misunderstood in the media.

Wallace says that affecting Americans’ civil rights as citizens by imposing stricter gun laws is not the answer. But Rosenthal said that the statistics should speak for themselves.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.