In the aftermath of the slaughter of innocents at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Barack Obama and members of Congress are not the only ones urging a response.
The massacre has also spurred an outburst of petitions on the White House’s We the People page, where Americans can submit proposals to the president. Among them is a call for stronger gun control that has attracted record-breaking support.
Both the president and lawmakers have said the magnitude of the tragedy in Newtown demands action, and a sizable chunk of Americans seems to agree. A petition entitled “Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress” has so far garnered 147,746 signatures -- the most of any We the People petition.
That will require a response from the Obama administration, which has committed to answering online petitions that surpass 25,000 signatures within a certain period.
Several other petitions call for stricter gun control, including one urging Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips -- both initiatives Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he is considering -- and another titled “start the process to enact federal gun control reforms.”
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Gun control advocates are not alone in speaking out. On the other side, several of the petitions warn against trying to enact tougher gun regulations, including “Ensure the 2nd Amendment cant be infringed in anyway limiting citizens ability to defend against tyrannical governments” (sic), which garnered 4,367 signatures and “A gun in every classroom. Arm every teacher and principal to defend themselves and their students during an attack,” with 6,490 signatures.
There are also a fair number of petitions calling for a more robust mental health system in the United States. Details are still emerging about shooter Adam Lanza, but he reportedly struggled with mental health.
A few petitions take aim at the Westboro Baptist Church, a fringe religious group from Kansas that has said it has planned to protest the funerals of the slain children. Two separate petitions calling for the government to officially designate Westboro a hate group have picked up more than 135,000 signatures between them.