PM Note: On Guns and How This Tragedy Is Different
We don't know the details of what happened in Connecticut, what kind of weapons exactly were used, and we don't know how they were bought or if there were background checks or a history of mental illness.
But already there is something that seems to set this particular tragedy - the second gun rampage in a week - apart from some of the other recent tragedies. Dead young children.
It is hard to believe this will not be a watershed moment when we start to talk about, deal with and even perhaps legislate on guns.
Politicians who support stricter gun control legislation - even before all those details about this tragedy become known - are seizing on it immediately and in a way not seen before to call for tougher gun control laws.
They include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a bunch of other Northeast politicians who already support more gun control.
"President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress," said Bloomberg on Twitter. "We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after VTech, Tucson & Aurora. Now we are hearing it again," he added. http://abcn.ws/Z6gSaC
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a mass shooter and who has been one of the foremost gun control advocates told Politico Friday she warned the White House before the election that if President Obama didn't do more on gun control, she'd build a large scale public campaign that would "embarrass" them. http://politi.co/SX1bw9
For the record, President Obama does support renewing the Assault Weapons Ban, but he has also not made it a priority. He steered clear of talking about guns in his own statement of condolence.
"As a country, we have been through this too many times, whether it's an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin or a movie theater in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago," the president said from the White House after the shootings. "These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children, and we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." http://abcn.ws/WckB0L
Here's a just-posted Washington Post editorial that seems almost as a rejoinder to Jay Carney's initial reaction that "today is not the day to talk about gun control." http://abcn.ws/UY84iJ
The Post opinion is titled 'Time to Talk About Gun Control." http://wapo.st/SqGxba
"Yes, 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," write the Post's editorial board.
"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."
It is not entirely clear that tougher gun laws would keep guns out of the hands of people who would commit heinous crimes. The Assault Weapons Ban, for instance, was signed by President Clinton five years before the Columbine tragedy. And as Pierre Thomas pointed out Friday, there are already 300,000,000 guns in the United States.
Here is a statistical look at gun laws in the United States from Thomas and Jack Dates. There are more licensed gun dealers in the U.S. than grocery stores and three times more retail gun sellers than McDonald's. There were more than 8 million new guns either imported or manufactured in the U.S. in 2010 - http://abcn.ws/WcwjZk
Connecticut, reports Chris Good, already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, although gun laws in this country are not that tough, according to gun control advocates.
"Laws in Connecticut require licenses to purchase firearms. It also provides for record keeping and retention of handgun purchases, police inspections, and extended three-day limits on background checks for gun buyers, according to scorecards for Connecticut and New Jersey published by the Brady Campaign… New Jersey bans large-capacity ammunition magazines, while Connecticut does not."
Here's a round-up of national laws by Elizabeth Hartfield - http://abcn.ws/UMXUNz
Republicans and gun-advocating Democrats (of which there are many) have in the past said that there are enough gun laws and the answer to solving gun violence is by using the existing legal infrastructure and education.
"We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place," Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a top House Republican told C-SPAN on Friday. "I think we have to be careful about new, suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we're enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again," she said. http://wapo.st/12e2ax4