It's time to have a real national conversation about gun control, and it's time to enact policies on a federal level that prevent the mass slaughter of innocent citizens.
We are in this life, it's been said, to help each other get through it. We do this with ritual and process. In the next days and week, there will be the rituals of wakes and funerals, memorial services and assemblies. They are there for a reason — they help, they are what we have, we must embrace them. There are few occasions as emotionally painful as a child's funeral, and few as necessary.The New Haven Register:
And then there will be process, starting with the law enforcement and medical investigations, and perhaps leading to changes in public policy. Or — looking at recent mass shootings — talk of change but no actual new laws or policies.
The first response to mass shootings usually has to do with gun control. With the country awash in handguns — 300 million by one estimate — it's not clear if guns can be controlled any longer. The National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists can take great pride; they've brought gun ownership within reach of every psycho and wing nut with a crazed rage to kill.
Yet we must try.
There is no explanation, only heartbreak at the massacre of innocent children, many in kindergarten, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Once again we have been reminded of the horror that the hateful and deranged can wreak upon the innocent. All too often it is a lone male who has lost touch with himself and the world who has the power with a gun to express his demented rage in the death of others. [...]The New York Times:
Calls for stronger gun control laws have been shrugged off after past mass shootings. In the past, President Barack Obama has avoided the political volatile issue of gun control. After Friday’s shootings the White House again brushed off questions about tougher gun measures. But, then the president spoke, not so much as the nation’s leader but as the father of two daughters. This time he promised action to stop such future slaughters. Again, he did not specify any specific action. But millions of parents hope he will act to try and make schools, movie theaters, offices a little safer. Children have a right to grow up, not be shot down in their classroom.
Mr. Obama talked about the need for “common sense” gun control after the movie theater slaughter in Aurora, Colo., and he hinted during the campaign that he might support a new assault weapons ban, presumably if someone else introduced it. Republicans will never do that, because they are mired in an ideology that opposes any gun control. After each tragedy, including this one, some people litter the Internet with grotesque suggestions that it would be better if everyone (kindergarten teachers?) were armed. Far too many Democrats also live in fear of the gun lobby and will not support an assault weapons ban, or a ban on high-capacity bullet clips, or any one of a half-dozen other sensible ideas.Steve Lopez at The Los Angeles Times:
Mr. Obama said Friday that “we have been through this too many times” and that “we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
When will that day come? It did not come after the 1999 Columbine shooting, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, or the murders in Aurora last summer.
The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly, it will not unless Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen.
In this country, you can legally buy assault weapons. What does that say about us?The concealed carry ban in Illinois was thrown out by an appellate court this week in another NRA victory. In Chicago, where violent crime has soared and shootings every weekend take the lives of children, The Chicago Sun-Times pens two editorials in the wake of the shooting, one about how "this is a moment that should shake America to its core" link and another about taking on the pro-violence lobby:
Think about it. We have a national legislative body that fears the clout of the National Rifle Assn. more than it worries about the consequences of allowing people to buy weapons designed for war.
Yes, the pro-gun forces have been winning lately.The editorial board at USA Today looks at the "moral imperative" of tightening gun laws and strengthening access to mental health care:
But their promises of a safer America based on more and more guns are proving to be empty.
Big change often starts with small battles, and we need to get aggressive about those smaller battles now.
We can approve an assault weapons ban.
We can write a stiff concealed carry law in Illinois in response to a judicial ruling tossing out our outright ban.
And we should keep going, developing and implementing new solutions until our nation is as safe as we can make it.
As Tom Mauser, father of a student killed in the Columbine High School shootings, says, “If you don’t start now, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
There are also ways to isolate and help those among us with delusional, threatening or violent behavior, even though only a tiny fraction will become killers. Laws in most states allow authorities, or even friends and family, to ask a judge to have someone like that treated. There are databases designed to keep deranged people from buying guns, but they only work if they are maintained and updated.The Washington Post:
America is grieving this weekend. As the president said, every parent will hug his or her children a little tighter. Nothing can truly comfort the parents in Newtown who can no longer do that. But the country can take steps, however imperfect, to make it more difficult for another Newtown to occur. After Friday, that is a moral imperative.
...we will argue again about guns, or, rather, about why our politicians are hardly even arguing about guns any more. There are those who will object, who will say gun policy has nothing to do with any single event, that tragedies should not be exploited for political purpose. We know many of our readers are among this group.Please sign the petition asking President Obama to help start a national conversation about gun control.
And then there will be others, ourselves included, who will say, whatever the facts of this case, that the country would be safer with fewer guns, that mass killings are more difficult with knives, that it is not the Second Amendment but political cowardice that precludes sensible regulation. That we are not supposed to exploit tragedy to talk about this issue, but that in the absence of tragedy it never gets talked about at all.
In the meantime new names will be inscribed on that peculiar American roll call of grief: Newtown, Connecticut. Sandy Hook Elementary School. Names so ordinary, so American, so unthreatening, that in their very recitation they refute what we all would like to believe: It couldn’t happen here.