After the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, many in the American media insisted that the tragedy should prompt a “conversation about gun control.” These articles were written as if there had never been such a conversation. In fact, the issue had been debated for decades. Given the results, I argued, there was no reason to presume that a new conversation would end in more gun control.
That conversation has now come and gone. The result?
"Perverse as it may sound, the horrific mass shooting in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary produced a burst of state-level gun control bills around the country and then triggered a much stronger pro-gun backlash," Paul M. Barrett reports at Businessweek. “The counter-reaction has now reached its apogee in Georgia. In the past year alone, 21 states have enacted laws expanding gun rights, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Several states added piecemeal provisions allowing firearms on college campuses or in bars or churches. Georgia’s politicians, egged on by the National Rifle Association, have gone for broke.”
Read more. [Image: CB Agulto/Flickr]
[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."