The gunman who shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown carried three weapons on him. Among them was a Bushmaster .223-caliber, a high-powered rifle that he used to repeatedly shoot the children and staff, some at close range. The gun is popular with law enforcement and those in the military. It was also the type of weapon used in the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper shootings.
The other two weapons were a Glock 10 mm and a Sig Sauer 9 mm, which is generally used for elite military purposes and by police units. According to ABC News, the gunman committed suicide with a handgun, and had multiple high-capacity magazines with him.
The gunman's mother reportedly had five weapons registered to her, including at least three of the weapons found at the scene.
As the nation reels from the shooting, politicians and organizations have called out for gun control. As President Barack Obama pointed out during a service for the Sandy Hook shooting victims on Sunday night, he has attended four such memorials in his four years in office. Yet, gun control laws remain about the same. If anything, they've become less restrictive at the state level.
As The New York Times noted, Michigan lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday allowing people to carry concealed weapons in schools, and Ohio lawmakers passed a bill allowing guns in cars at the Statehouse garage.
The debate over gun regulation is always highly charged and yet it rarely yields any meaningful changes. Here's a look at some of the top reasons:
1. America's Relationship With Guns
The relationship between Americans and their guns appears to have grown tighter. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 47 percent of American adults report that they have a gun in their home or somewhere on their property.
And according to Gallup, only 26 percent of Americans favor a ban on the possession of handguns by citizens. When Gallup surveyed Americans in 1959, 60 percent favored a handgun ban.
On Black Friday of this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a record number of requests for background checks for gun buyers. Since the FBI does not track the actual number of firearms purchased, that number may be even higher than the background check requests.
Mass shootings can actually trigger an increase in gun sales as people worry about self-defense and the possibility of tighter gun restrictions. According to the Christian Science Monitor, gun sales in Aurora, Colorado increased by more than 40 percent following the movie theater shooting there.
2. The NRA's Powerful D.C. Presence
The National Rifle Association has one of the most powerful lobbying presences in Washington, D.C.