[Image: Pete Souza/The White House]
“How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”
To our knowledge, no one — not even the NRA — has proposed a national database of the mentally ill. Since similar databases of sex offenders have done little to protect children from sex crimes, that seems unlikely to help. Also, few organizations have done more than the NRA to block the registration of anything, as they work vigorously to defeat gun registration databases wherever they find them.
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This weekend, a state-sponsored cash-for-guns program in Camden County, New Jersey, saw the return of 1,137 firearms — the most successful buyback in state history, and not the only record-breaking return haul since Friday’s massacre.
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Nate Silver has brought his trademark data analysis to the newfound gun control discussion today, breaking down what gun ownership in this country looks like numerically. Using data from a 2008 national exit poll—the question was not included, he explains, on 2012 exit polls—some of the details in his chart will likely strike you as obvious: for instance, that Republicans own more guns than Democrats and that there are far more guns in rural areas. What might be more interesting, as Silver points out, is that gun ownership is not necessarily tied to being religiously devout, despite Presdident Obama’s 2008 suggestion about communities that “cling to guns or religion.” Also, the chart reveals that gun ownership is “highest among the middle class,” as Silver writes, with people making $50,000 to $100,000 per year more likely to own guns than their counterparts in other wage groups.
Today is Monday, the first school day since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed so many young lives last week. Like millions of other American parents, I sent my kids off to school today knowing that the difficult family discussions we had over the weekend will continue in the classroom, as educators and students address yet another tragic outburst of violence in our schools. Today, the first of many funerals will take place in Newtown, after a weekend of vigils and mourning. President Obama visited Newtown on Sunday, speaking before an auditorium of grieving parents. “We can’t accept events like this as routine,” he said, “These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change.”
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Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries; in every other country, the gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.
The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children. They have made a clear moral choice: that the comfort and emotional reassurance they take from the possession of guns is, placed in the balance even against the routine murder of innocent children, of supreme value. Whatever satisfaction gun owners take from their guns—we know for certain that there is no prudential value in them—is more important than children’s lives. Give them credit: life is making moral choices, and that’s a moral choice, clearly made.
All of that is a truth, plain and simple, and recognized throughout the world. At some point, this truth may become so bloody obvious that we will know it, too. Meanwhile, congratulate yourself on living in the child-gun-massacre capital of the known universe."
“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” Obama said during a brief address from the White House, where he repeatedly wiped away tears.
“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. Each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent. And that is especially true today.”