12/17/2012 11:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Debate: After Newtown, Will Nation's Worst-Ever Grade School Shooting Spur Tougher Gun Control?

Police say the Newtown gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used a semi-automatic Bushmaster assault rifle, similar to the M4 carbine used by the U.S. military. He also had two handguns, a Glock 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and a Sig Sauer. The massacre occurred just miles from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the nation's second most powerful pro-gun lobby in the country after the National Rifle Association.

Democracy Now! hosts a debate on gun control between John Velleco, chief federal lobbyist for Gun Owners of America, and Christian Heyne, legislative assistant and grassroots coordinator for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. We're also joined by Paul Barrett, author of "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun."

"The United States, for better or for worse, is a gun culture. We are a culture that, uniquely in the world, sees value and significance in firearms. This has been the case since the founding of the republic," says Paul Barrett on Democracy Now!, author of "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun," one of the weapons used in the shooting. "What we saw is yet another one of these hugely disturbing mass killings that I think is the almost inevitable outcome of a society that's permeated by firearms--some 300 million guns in private hands right now--the intersection of a society like that with mental illness, which is almost inevitable in society."

Barrett continues, "The Second Amendment is scorned by many people, but it's been there since the beginning, enacted in 1791, and it's very, very meaningful to millions and millions of people in this country. And firearms represent not something evil to many Americans, but something associated with individuals and self-reliance, the American profile."

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